Journey to Disappointment

What’s Panera without the bread? No cure for a hangover, that’s for sure.

As it unfailingly does at this time of year, fall has come to New England, and so this morning Mr. Slattern and I rose before dawn to head north for a squint at the leaves. As the alarm sounded at 6 am, it occurred to me that undertaking a 500 mile drive just a few hours after returning home from a festive evening wedding was perhaps ill-advised, but we were committed to this course, and so there was no question of not pursuing it, hangover be damned. And I had one goddamned hangover, let me tell you.

Cinderella’s slipper by Christian Louboutin. Sadly, not exactly what I was wearing.
Via Get Dressed with Robin Fleming.

Of course, at a wedding — especially one that involves two superbly matched, uber-fun queens of fabulosity like our pals Robin and Jen — the champagne should flow like water, and though Mr. Slattern refused a tipple from my slipper, a good time was still had by all. I even allowed myself a big old slice of wedding cake (an indescribably sinful and delicious homemade coconut confection with cream cheese icing, sigh) in direct contradiction of the Feelbad diet plan, aka dinner at Gitmo. I figured I’d probably be incapable of eating for a couple days anyway, so what the heck, I had a brownie and an éclair too.

So anyways, by about 11 am, Mr. Slattern and I both felt like we’d been up for about a week and decided that a little sustenance was in order. Unfortunately neither of us was fit for public view for reasons previously alluded to, so a leisurely lunch at the Old Port Sea Grill was out of the question. Besides, we were in a hurry. So we decided to drop off the highway and go foraging for reasonable fast fare, which is how we ended up at Panera Bread at the ungodly hour of 11:30 am.

Mistake number one. Well two actually, since I guess you’d have to count my appropriation of a full champagne bottle from the waiter and subsequent request for a straw the night before as the first step on this particular trip to hell.

Pocket pal via How Stuff Works

In any case, it’s been a while since we were on this kind of meal schedule, like about sixteen years, which is why I guess we had forgotten that when you eat lunch well before noon your fellow diners will mostly be under five or over 90. Kids I don’t mind so much, provided they’re cute and silent, but as previously documented, the active seniors tend to get up my nose, unless they’re built along the lines of my Grammie Florence, who is still a head turner and party favorite as she approaches age ninety. But of course, she’s the exception rather than the rule.

We spent about eight hours in line behind a foursome with a combined age of about 420 who had lots of querulous questions about free refills and senior discounts. (They all ordered soup in bread bowls, the mere thought of which nearly made me vomit as wet bread disgusts me.) Finally though, we put in our order, received our complimentary Panera vibrator and picked our way across the dining room to a reasonably clean table by the window, which was a tad bright for my liking, but at least was well off the flight plan of the cookie-fueled preschooler whose mother was deeply involved in a phone conversation about what Stan was going to do with all that money and why he shouldn’t spend it on that whore he’d gone ahead and married even though his entire goddamned family had told him it would be a mistake verging on a crime to do so. Maine, the way life should be.

The road to disappointment ends right here with weird puffy egg yolks and transparent greens. Photo property WS Winslow.

Anyway, the vibra-pager eventually lit up and we retrieved our food. Mr. Slattern’s turkey and avocado sandwich was entirely acceptable, even tasty. It came with a pickle and an apple, which made for a satisfying lunch that left him fueled up and ready to drive the remaining three hours. My Panera dining experience, however, was considerably less spectacular, consisting as it did of chicken and avocado atop a Cobb salad made of previously frozen romaine, tasteless tomatoes and some kind of chopped egg product, in which the texture of both the yolk and the white reminded me more of Peeps than anything chicken-related I have ever encountered. Perhaps it’s a seasonal thing, putting Peep eggs into a salad; however, one would expect to see that at Easter rather than harvest time. And as the gag inducing egg bits were both indistinguishable and inseparable from the bleu cheese crumbles, I eventually just gave up and lunched on the chicken and avocado. Don’t even get me started on the “vinaigrette.” The apple, however, was delicious.

If Peeps laid eggs, would they taste like marshmallows?

As for the hangover, a day of green tea and Alka Seltzer eventually put paid to the nausea, which is a good thing because we’ve got party guests at the cottage, and they always stop at the wine store before they arrive.

Slipper, anyone?

About WSW

Writer, wife, mother. Toiler in the bottomless, black, soul-sucking coal mine of domestic life. Thank God for the portable bar.

Posted on October 7, 2012, in Life and times, The Slattern Speaks and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 28 Comments.

  1. Ah Maine. Where a man can love his sister–at least that’s what my husband tells me. He’s the New England expert. I’m merely a dabbler. I have to raise a straw-filled champagne bottle to the fact that you guys actually rose early to witness the leaves after a night of imbibing. Nothing makes me less sentimental toward the beauty of nature than a hangover and lack of sleep Frozen lettuce is a close third.

    • It’s all of a piece once you venture north of Boston. Toothlessness, dipsomania and entire towns where everyone has the same last name, but no one admits to being related.

  2. Aw, I almost called you Saturday and was going to visit.(as I was at Florence’s) But you may have been too under the weather for visitors.

    • We were still in the city on Saturday, getting in position to be under the weather on Sunday, as it were. Sorry to have missed you.

  3. Ouch! Sounds like a rough day, especially with round coming up in the evening with your guests. I have to say that I like how you guys do weddings though, the cake must have been fabulous!!

    • As a rule I’m not a big fan of weddings, but this one was a corker and a model for future events. The cake was sublime and would have been so even if I had not been off sugar for nigh on to a month. As for round two, it’s not whether you fall, but how you get up that counts.

      • I’m not a wedding person either, but champagne always helps with that. 😉 And I’m digging your outlook for round two!

  4. I never wish any pain upon my friends, but I’ll say that you did deserve what ya got there. Drinking a bottle of champagne is seldom a wise move and I’ve never seen any type of salad on the menu of Hangover Cures 101. You have to feed the beast!! 🙂

  5. Well, Peeps taste like crap, so I’m guessing that their horrid little offspring would too. Doesn’t the hangover/car ride experience make you nauseated? You know…with all that scenery buzzing by at lightning speeds and you trying desperately to focus. I’m making myself ill.

    • Happily most of the trip is now but a blur. Of course so is the last couple of days, but that’s what vacation is all about!

  6. Love the ‘dinner at Gitmo’ line.
    I’ve had brunch at this place on Clinton St. after a night of drinking and found that nothing brings you back to sobriety like sugar-cured bacon. But other than that, my best cure for a hangover is prevention. Coz nothing works except a glass of water with every drink, and not too many at that.
    Even the words ‘wet bread’ can put me off eating for a few hours.
    BTW I read online a trick this guy uses when he goes bar-hopping. He carries five pennies in his pocket. And whenever he tips the bartender for his drink, he adds a penny to it. When he’s out of pennies, he stops drinking.

    • Here’s the hottest hangover prevention tip you’ll ever get: dissolve two Airborne tablets in warm water before bed and drink to endrun the hangover — or at least take the teeth out of it. Works every time.

  7. I prefer my champagne directly from the bottle, no glass needed. That way the bubbles fizz directly up my nose. Panera is not my favorite place to eat, but will do in an emergency.

  8. Ka-Snort! Back in my drinking days, I joked about ordering a bottle of wine with a straw in it. It’s an honor to encounter someone who actually did it.

    I used to love going to parties where the hostess had the same taste in wine. That is to say, a box with a spigot.

    The only semi-rational reason I can imagine to explain your choice of salad for your hangover meal is that your brain cells staged a mini-revolt when you blurted your order. Bring on the carbs and Bloody Mary’s in a thermos.


    “Unfetteredbs” is the reason I plan to scroll up to link to the vibrator story. I may be stuck in link-land forever if you’ve cleverly hidden teasers in each of your stories. On my death bed, I’ll be saying, “it…was…the…kitchen…slattern….”

    • If you can dream it you can do it, of course the hangover is seldom worth the price of such a dubious achievement as champagne through a straw, but life is all about collecting experiences, is it not? I chose the salad as penance for the cake and champagne. Sort of a culinary hair shirt. It was far more effective than I had planned.

  9. mjcache (Mel Cope)

    Hey K.S… those peeps look suspiciously like a pale ochre version of doggie-doo… with eyes.

    Just sayin’.

  10. About two weeks back went to my elder niece’s wedding in Old Saybrook. The wedding ceremony was held in a room with a view of Long Island Sound. It was interesting. They had us wait in the bar while they set up the room and more than a few guests overindulged. Being sober I got a chance to watch the festivities without falling into the center of the schmoozing and pick up attempts. And the Murph was along for the ride. There were a few ladies that a touch of alcohol on my part would have made them potential escorts. I admired them tattoos on ankles and calves sheathed in black nylon supported by stilettos that caused nosebleeds. You see,your time at the wedding was normal and getting up before noon to leaf watch is for tourists. those of us who live here go at off peak times so we don’t have to deal with out of staters who don’t appreciate our local driving rules. You did good going leaf watching because it’s a calming exprience. As to cookie fueled rugrats, a hypo with a mild sedative seem to do the trick. Just distract the parents stick and return to enjoying your brunch.

    • Lacking a syringe, I’ll stick with the strategically placed foot. Sure the crying is unpleasant, but a good trip seems to slow them down long enough for me to get through my meal and out the door. 😉

  11. if peeps laid eggs I bet they would taste more like that awesome sugary coating and not yet too marshmellowy..
    thanks for shooting me out to the funniest vibrator story ever. haa Hope your hangover subsided by the time the wine arrived(smile)

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