Wednesday, March 05, 2008


I felt like a child again. Everywhere I turned, there was someone chastising me and the world I lived in. After an adult lifetime of work, I was being charged with representing evil. They even used the “M” word (to an Italian, that is the ultimate slur, to belong to an organized criminal enterprise).

Then I decided to try the game from my accuser’s perspective, work up empathy for their pain and suffering.

It happened when I was in California last month, there were some things I forgot to bring back. A week in wine country and how could I not remember to snag a few gems for the old homestead’s larder? This would be the perfect opportunity to put my plan into action. I would make up for the time lost, and late one evening I got online, credit card at the ready. I was going to go around the system, make a break from the conventional, go hog wild.

I had scoped out what I wanted to buy. There were pleasant memories from past transgressions of interstate commerce. Smoky flavors, mellow wood, something exotic, not your usual Limousin. There was a firmness to the body, a bold expression of flavors, with comfort and the forbidden, interwoven into a burst of flavor that I could not forget. In fact, this one was hard to shake off. I just had to get me some more. All the years of traveling, immersing myself in Italian counterparts had me all but renouncing where I had come from, as if I were in front of Savonarola at the Inquisition.

But now I was in outlaw mode. This would be no whimper of rebellion. I would stand tall with the other revolutionaries who were rejecting the accepted norms or procurement. How would this put me in the standing of my industry colleagues? Or the Italians who had fed me the finest from their artisanal confines? It might put me at risk, but it was a chance I just had to take.

I navigated on to the website, a thriving business located in California. There, a menu of selections with descriptions and sizes sent my head spinning. I could envision the pleasure at the table with some of these prized finds, my mouth watered at the mere thought of it. Was this euphoria from the forbidden fruit or was I entering an altered state over my turn to lawlessness? I don’t know and I didn’t care, I was going all the way.

I put my order in and proceeded to the online check out. But I kept getting sent back to the previous menu, only to enter the information again. After three or four times, I started to worry. Was my credit card invalid? Had someone hijacked it again? This only made me want it more, to embrace the dark side. Friends had told me there would be a thrill, but I kept getting knocked back. What was going on? I was befuddled.

I had heard that it was difficult getting what I wanted across state lines, but others had told me they did it, they were lawbreakers. I wanted to be a lawbreaker too. I wanted to be a rebel with a cause.

And then I saw a red notice pop up on the screen. AVAILABLE IN CA ONLY, it announced. I was busted, unable to break away from the conventions of tradition. Trapped in an Old World Order.

What was I to do?

And then I remembered. I could have it shipped to my mom in Southern California and pick it up the next time I was out there. Or if I needed it sooner, perhaps she could break the law too, and send it to me.

I decided to pick it up next time I went to visit. After all, moms love to cook for their sons. Who doesn’t love an old-fashioned country breakfast of lacy fried eggs, biscuits, fresh California orange juice and the ultimate jailbait, mahogany smoked bacon?

This time it isn’t wine that is illegal to ship over state lines. It’s bacon. And I am “utterly remorseless and resolute” with “brazen disregard” and cultivating a “culture of lawlessness” over my dilemma. It’s enough to make one want to go after the NPPA Pork PAC with a vengeance, for they stand squarely in the path of a free market economy.

This is the United States and the year is 2008. Time to let me make my own decisions about the bacon I eat and where I get it.

Are you with me or agin’ me?

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