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True Tale of Bacon Shame

February 7th, 2009 by Mike Nelson · 73 Comments

shameLate in day 6 of Bacon Stupidity I stopped to stock up, approached the check out and dropped eight pounds of various brands of bacon on the conveyor. The clerk, an attractive middle aged woman, smiled wryly and asked, “Cooking breakfast for everyone, no?” with an accent I guessed to be Eastern European. For reasons that should be obvious I didn’t feel like explaining that I was on a quest to eat nothing but bacon for the month of February and instead said, quite truthfully, “It’s kind of a taste test.”

“You are taking a test?” she said, clearly puzzled. The first wave of bacon shame hit me as I replied, “No, we’re going to see which of these tastes best.” She gave a little shake of her head and smiled again. “Oh, this package does not look so good,” she said of the eighth pound, pointing out to me how the wrapping appeared to have been breached.

She called out to a clerk, an elderly, silver haired gentlemen with a quiet, dignified mien. When he spoke it was clear that he, too, was not native born. A second wave of bacon shame hit me as this fellow shuffled off to get me a replacement for my flawed bacon so that, you know, I could continue to eat nothing but bacon for the month and report about it on the internet.

As I moved toward the door to wait, a teenaged clerk said robotically, “Have a nice night.”

“I’m actually waiting for the guy to bring me a replacement for my bacon,” I said, somewhat apologetically.

“What’s that?” he asked.

“My bacon had a hole in it. The guy just went to get me another.” He nodded. Thirty, forty-five seconds pass. The woman checks out a well dressed couple buying dessert and coffee. They look wonderful. Clearly they are in love. I still have no bacon. The check out lady says loudly, “Where is he with the bacon!?” She stands on tip toes to see over the magazine racks. Another thirty seconds passes. “Here he comes,” says the teen.

The silver-haired gentleman approaches me almost obsequiously and says, “Sir, I am so sorry. You must have taken the last one. I looked everywhere. I could not find it.” He held up two pounds of bacon, one in each hand. “This,” he said, referring to the bad package, “is thick slice, and this is thin. But they are the same brand. I looked everywhere.”

“It’s fine,” I say, now overwhelmed with bacon shame. “Thanks so much for looking.”

“I’m so sorry.” The check out lady walks out from behind her station, “Let’s see if that’s the same price,” she says, showing a little irritation. I follow her back and she scans it several times without result, flattens the package, tries again and gets it to scan. “Ah, yes, same price. Have a nice night, sir.” Sir, she called me.

The elderly man does not look up as he repeats, “I’m sorry, sir.”

I reassure him again and hurry out of the store.

These two, they endured unknown hardships, perhaps war and tragedy, yet through grit and determination made their way to this country where they were lucky to find themselves employment, working nights at a grocery store, probably sending money back to their families in their home countries, those who are still alive. They hope someday to bring other family members over — their hearts ache every minute they are separated — but it is so difficult, so expensive. Just living day to day, in Southern California, what with the high rents, the taxes, rising food costs, it is a struggle. But they are blessed and grateful for it.

Me, I am eating bacon for the month of February and writing about it for my blog.

Tags: Month o' Bacon · RiffTrax · bacon

73 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Steve R. on Feb 7, 2009 at 11:19 am

    So after all that Mike, which brand did taste best?

  • 2 Aaron on Feb 7, 2009 at 11:33 am

    You are a chamipion for these people. These people who fought to live in the land of the free and the home of the brave should admire you for living the American Dream. You are free to eat whatever you want, and if you want to have 7 or 8 or 9 different brands of Bacon, you should be able to have that. You are the reason these people wanted to come and live in this country.

    I feel the only shame that was felt at that store was of the clerk. He knew that even though the brands were the same, you as an American are entitled to thick cut Bacon if you wanted it.

    You should have put your hand upon that man’s shoulder, and told him “It’s okay my friend, I’m sure you have been through enough, I forgive you and this establishment.” And possibly invided him home for a feast of Bacon.

  • 3 AJ on Feb 7, 2009 at 11:50 am

    This story made me cry. I raise my glass to those wonderful retail clerks. Sigh.

  • 4 Mark on Feb 7, 2009 at 11:56 am

    Next time, ask them where they shop for bacon themselves. I bet they point you to a fantastic Eastern European deli that sells the most incredibly smoky rashers for a good price.

    Failing that, just look for German or Polish delis in your area. You’ll find offerings that make the packaged stuff taste like baloney. If you’re going to eat nothing but bacon for a month you might as well go with the really good stuff.

    BTW, don’t let the bacon shame affect you. After all, I’m sure you write much better than those good folks working at the grocery store. Be true to yourself — bacon blogging is your destiny.

  • 5 Houndstooth Mind on Feb 7, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    Should we feel more or less shame for simply reading about your bacon quest?

  • 6 Darth Chimay on Feb 7, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    It’s funny… the exact same thing happened to me when I was purchasing Rick Springfield’s run on General Hospital.

    Question: will you be getting your hands on any of that bacon beer?

  • 7 Nick Fechter on Feb 7, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    Is that Southpark’s Sexual Harassement Panda in the picture?

  • 8 Chris Hughes on Feb 7, 2009 at 1:46 pm

    My mom used to buy huge quantities of mayonnaise–not because she was made lots of bean salad, egg salad and the like, but because things in our household were fundamentally off-kilter. I always used to hang back just a bit when she was checking out, in the hopes that the cashiers wouldn’t be able to link us genetically.

  • 9 OxfordProle on Feb 7, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    I think this post proves you can take the man out of the Midwest, but you can’t take the Midwest out of the man.

    Yours is a noble quest, sir. It truly is.

  • 10 Paul on Feb 7, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    “My bacon had a hole in it.”
    Could this be the most wistful sentence ever created by mankind? You know, I think it just might be.

  • 11 OmegaRowsdower on Feb 7, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    “There’s no shame in Bacon” I heard it on the news

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_LnBJM4KrV4

    (Having the clerk help you find the 2nd Harry Potter [ for RiffTrax purposes] because they moved everything holds a bit more shame, for me anyway)

  • 12 jennifer on Feb 7, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    Oh great, I now have the old timey singing type voice guy going “Sexual harassment…paaaaandaaaa” in my head on an endless loop….

    *insanity just that much more likely*

  • 13 Jmaes on Feb 7, 2009 at 3:15 pm

    wow. this actually brings a tear to my eye …

  • 14 valdisfox on Feb 7, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    Sorry guys, I have to point out that the fur suit in the “Shame” poster is in fact a Husky. A popular species at certain conventions I’ve attended. And yes, before you go there, I AM filled with shame. ^.^ Mike, I loved your piece, and I love bacon. I read it while listening to “Dirty Work” by Steely Dan. I almost wept too, Jmaes (or James, if you’re dyslexic). Rock on, Mike. Rock on, poor old grocery clerk guy. Rock on, America.

  • 15 valdisfox on Feb 7, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    And, most of all, rock on, bacon…

  • 16 j. cunningham on Feb 7, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    hang your head in pork-strip shame…. eat some corn

  • 17 jfe on Feb 7, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    You have forgotten that you were kidnapped by mad scientists and shot up into space to live with robot friends and be tortued with cheesy movies. That must account for something, doesn’t it?

  • 18 Ryan on Feb 7, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    I always imagine Mike having nightmares,waking yelling “jumpsuits, no!”

  • 19 Kim on Feb 7, 2009 at 4:58 pm

    That was beautiful, Mike. To echo a previous sentiment…Rock On.

  • 20 Henry Slinkman on Feb 7, 2009 at 6:15 pm

    “Don’t say this
    Don’t touch there
    Don’t be nasty, says the funny bear”

  • 21 jfe on Feb 7, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    That’s right Mr. Nelson, you have endured much yourself, in a jumpsuit no less, so hang your head in shame no more.
    Actually just acknowledging these people and where they may have come from releases you from any shame you feel you need to feel.

  • 22 NanoRiffite on Feb 7, 2009 at 8:28 pm

    But think of how better off those store employees are that you’re doing a month of eating bacon. Imagine if you were doing a month of eating celery — they’d go through all the same trouble but only make 2 cents in profit.

  • 23 michael on Feb 7, 2009 at 10:20 pm

    Moments of clarity hit in the strangest places, don’t they?

  • 24 norgavue on Feb 7, 2009 at 11:05 pm

    Sir… Sir Michael of Nelson Earl of Bacon

  • 25 Lord Bob on Feb 8, 2009 at 9:38 am

    That was… weird. I genuinely did not know Mike could write like that. I feel like I just saw J.R.R. Tolkien’s long-long standup comedy routine or something.

  • 26 Lord Bob on Feb 8, 2009 at 9:42 am

    That should be “long-lost standup comedy routine”.

  • 27 Houndstooth Mind on Feb 8, 2009 at 9:57 am

    I honestly don’t think the hard working immigrant folk would begrudge you your honest living. Let’s face it, the bacon stunt is prolly bringing lots of good traffic to the site. If eating bacon for a month helps you bring home the… well you know. Then I don’t think there should be any shame in your game! Even hard working immigrants like a good laugh!

  • 28 G DuVall on Feb 8, 2009 at 11:27 am

    You simply MUST include this on your bacon agenda:

    http://www.mredepot.com/servlet/the-364/Yoder%E2%80%99s-Celebrity-Canned-Bacon/Detail

  • 29 Valdsifox on Feb 8, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    Lord B, if you like Mike’s meatier written musings (bacon pun aside), I heartily recommend “Mind Over Matter.” Contains many sizzling, smoky slabs of Nelson humor, with just that right amount of crisp, practical Midwestern flavor. ^.^

  • 30 New York City : Dining News Elsewhere: The Great Peanut Dip, Frozen Fare on Feb 9, 2009 at 8:56 am

    [...] A month of eating only bacon: day six. [Rifftrax] Published Monday, February 09, 2009 11:54 AM by BuzzEditor Filed under: Dining News [...]

  • 31 London : Dining News Elsewhere: The Great Peanut Dip, Frozen Fare on Feb 9, 2009 at 8:57 am

    [...] A month of eating only bacon: day six. [Rifftrax] Published Monday, February 09, 2009 11:56 AM by BuzzEditor Filed under: Dining News [...]

  • 32 Best of the Buzz : Dining News Elsewhere: The Great Peanut Dip, Frozen Fare on Feb 9, 2009 at 8:57 am

    [...] A month of eating only bacon: day six. [Rifftrax] Published Monday, February 09, 2009 11:56 AM by BuzzEditor Filed under: Dining News [...]

  • 33 Boston : Dining News Elsewhere: The Great Peanut Dip, Frozen Fare on Feb 9, 2009 at 8:58 am

    [...] A month of eating only bacon: day six. [Rifftrax] Published Monday, February 09, 2009 11:57 AM by BuzzEditor Filed under: Dining News [...]

  • 34 Chicago : Dining News Elsewhere: The Great Peanut Dip, Frozen Fare on Feb 9, 2009 at 8:58 am

    [...] A month of eating only bacon: day six. [Rifftrax] Published Monday, February 09, 2009 11:58 AM by BuzzEditor Filed under: Dining News [...]

  • 35 Los Angeles : Dining News Elsewhere: The Great Peanut Dip, Frozen Fare on Feb 9, 2009 at 8:59 am

    [...] A month of eating only bacon: day six. [Rifftrax] Published Monday, February 09, 2009 11:58 AM by BuzzEditor Filed under: Dining News [...]

  • 36 San Francisco : Dining News Elsewhere: The Great Peanut Dip, Frozen Fare on Feb 9, 2009 at 9:00 am

    [...] A month of eating only bacon: day six. [Rifftrax] Published Monday, February 09, 2009 11:59 AM by BuzzEditor Filed under: Dining News [...]

  • 37 Washington D.C. : Dining News Elsewhere: The Great Peanut Dip, Frozen Fare on Feb 9, 2009 at 9:00 am

    [...] A month of eating only bacon: day six. [Rifftrax] Published Monday, February 09, 2009 11:59 AM by BuzzEditor Filed under: Dining News [...]

  • 38 MonkeyCheezPants on Feb 9, 2009 at 11:21 pm

    Now that makes me a saaaaaad panda.

  • 39 MonkeyCheezPants on Feb 9, 2009 at 11:22 pm

    It’s like Hemmingway’s “For sale: Baby shoes, never worn.”

  • 40 Mike Nelson on Feb 10, 2009 at 3:59 pm

    Thanks, I’ll feature it soon!

  • 41 jfe on Feb 14, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    Wow a shelf life of ten years! Mr. Nelson can save this for his future second round of bacon stupidity and not have to go to the store right away.

  • 42 Kelly on Feb 17, 2009 at 10:24 pm

    Best comment I’ve read in a looooong while.

  • 43 Zagat Buzz - Latest Restaurants and Nightspot Openings, Dining Trends, Events and Industry Buzz on Mar 21, 2010 at 6:38 pm

    [...] A month of eating only bacon: day six. [Rifftrax] Share and [...]

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