When I moved in across the street from Early Bird Biscuit Company, I knew there'd be a problem. I couldn't possibly afford to visit the biscuit shop every morning and still have a savings account. I promised myself I would only go if they had a biscuit flavor I could not resist. (So everyday?)
If you don't know, Early Bird is a local Richmond eatery specializing in freshly baked biscuits and Blanchard's coffee. Each morning offers up a new special sandwich flavor and unique biscuit flavor. My roommate, who moved to Richmond this summer, immediately fell in love with them. She became my Delilah who tempted me at every sunrise with suggestions of biscuits and iced coffees. She soon dreamed of a time when she'd be recognized as a regular at the eatery. She wanted them to know her name and greet her every morning with, "Good morning, Katherine! Do you want the usual?"
That dream fell flat when the cashier messed up her name three days in a row and said she looked like some other regular.
"Why did my parents name me Katherine, the most generic 1991 name ever?" she fumed over tinfoil wrapper and biscuit crumbs.
Early Bird also offers lunch specials. Some time ago I grabbed their pimento cheese lunch biscuit. It's a warm biscuit housing a voluminous scoop of chunky, warm, gooey pimento. Now you've got to be into that sort of thing, but I totally am. I Instagrammed that ish while licking grease off my fingers.
Each night, Early Bird posts on Instagram the next day's flavors. Yesterday morning I awoke to news of a pimento cheese omelet biscuit. This had happened twice before, but in both instances I had been out of town. Lo! My day had come. Victory was footsteps away.
I sprung out of bed and pounced to the biscuit shop. At 7:06 am, I was the only customer. Honestly it was overwhelming - four biscuit makers versus one lone biscuit eater. The staff there recognizes me (Katherine hates this), but at this minute, they didn't know my name (they're about to know my name). They asked if I had come from a run. Since I practically am always rolling out of bed to get there, I always look like I've just come from a workout. I don't know what that says about my sleep.
"No, I'm going for a run later," I lied.
"What can I get you?"
"The pimento cheese omelet. It's only what dreams are made of, and I'm fulfilling mine today."
"And what's your name? I don't know it, do I?"
"Is that your first name or last name? It's not fake, is it?"
"No, that's my name."
I returned to my lair, biscuit in my hand, ecstasy in my veins. I plopped onto my bed (laptop screen open to my dissertation!) and unwrapped the glorious sandwich - only to not find the voluminous, gooey pimento cheese from the lunch biscuit. This biscuit certainly looked delicious - cheddar and an egg patty with red peppers - but where was the pimento cheese? Had a mistake been made? Do I say something?
Katherine emerged from her bedroom ready for the work day. Just like any Delilah, she said, "I'll go with you if you go back. I'll get a coffee."
On the walk over (which is a hundred feet), I fretted whether I was being an a-hole or difficult or maybe I was wrong. Or maybe this was the soccer mom inside me acting up. But no, this biscuit wasn't pimento. But I would eat it. But I really wanted pimento.
"Do you think they'll let me keep both?" I wondered.
Inside, Katherine and I were the only customers. I felt so bad, but I explained my situation, and they profusely apologized. "I wouldn't have come back, but I just really wanted pimento," I tried to reason with myself. They nodded sympathetically.
A new biscuit appeared in my hands. I offered up the old.
"Are you sure you don't want it?" they asked.
"Heck, I'll eat it!" I declared.
While Katherine waited for her coffee, they asked what I did for a living and if I really lived across the street. Yes, do you make home deliveries?
Outside, Katherine grumbled that they knew me far better than they ever knew her. "They know your name and your resume," she said. "I'm just the doppelgänger of another regular."
Sucks to suck.
At the kitchen table, I unwrapped both my bounties, prepared for the best Instagram ever and some pimento cheese. I stopped dead in my tracks. An identical biscuit stared back - cheddar atop an egg patty containing red peppers.
"Oh my God, that's hilarious," Katherine declared.
"What do I do?" I hissed. Had a mistake been made again? Was this actually the pimento cheese omelet? But no, the precious pimento cheese sandwich from my previous lunch had been so luscious and flowing with just that - mayo and cheddar and pimentos swirled together. This was some other creature - similarly gorgeous and savory, but a cousin, not a twin. Were there biscuit buckets mixed up? Did they not know the sins they committed? Could I save other unbeknownst customers from the same tearful conclusion? Do I go back?
Delilah: "I mean, think of the blog post."
I mean, yeah. Think of the blog post!! You're reading it right now.
"Will you come with me?" I bartered.
Katherine told me she had to go to work. Okay, alone I would fight for my common people. This would be awkward, but they meant no ill will, I meant no ill will, no one was out to get anyone. I just was out to get some gooey pimento cheese.
Across the street, I walked. Actually I jogged because a bus was coming - and my phone fell out of my pocket onto the pavement. I deserved that.
"Cazey," the biscuit makers breathlessly said. "Back again?"
I began unwrapping my bounty. I had to show evidence. "I'm not crazy," I whispered.
"Cazey," the biscuit maker began.
No, I didn't say that.
"I hate to break it to you..."
"That is the pimento cheese biscuit."
At that moment, I was shook.
I stuttered: "I just thought...one time I got pimento cheese for lunch...I just...I am so sorry. I don't know. Where is the pyre to burn myself? How many martyrs have gone before me? Where do I throw myself into the pile of rubbish biscuits forevermore?"
It dawned on the biscuit maker:
"The pimento cheese lunch biscuit is a different type of pimento," he kindly said. "We can put a scoop of pimento cheese on one of your two biscuits (you ungrateful, conniving customer)."
"No. Oh my God, no. I will enjoy this biscuit the way it's meant to be tasted. I feel so bad. Seriously, I am so sorry. I am so embarrassed. Do you want one of these back? I only tipped one dollar. I don't deserve this. I am an asshole, not a martyr. Oh my God, where do I go to die?"
My face said all that.
Out on the sidewalk, two biscuits in hand, embarrassment in my veins, Katherine/Delilah drove by on her way to work. "What happened?" she asked.
"Pimentos are a red pepper," I tried to explain. "And this is pimento."
Shock washed over her face just as the light turned green.
Inside my apartment, for a third time I sat down to face my pimento biscuits. But really they were now penance biscuits. Yet they still tasted good.
And, I remembered, they don't know Katherine like they know me; she can still return to Early Bird unlike me.
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