Toast the Victors, to Whom the Spoils Go

French ToastIt is 1984.

I am in Fresno at a journalism conference with The Viking, student newspaper of Long Beach City College. It is the morning after the awards ceremony and we are in bad shape.

We had been informed we couldn’t use our Macintosh 512s in the competition. No other schools had them. It wouldn’t be fair.

But there was nothing in the rules stipulating we use typewriters, let alone prohibiting computers. And the industry has begun using computers.

They decided we could use the Macs.

They may not have helped us write better, but they enabled us to rewrite faster. Regardless, the result was the same:

We. Kicked. Ass.

We stumble into breakfast late. Most of the others have eaten and are packing. We walk the line of near-empty chafing dishes for the last scraps of sausages and eggs. Dr. Richard Gordon joins us. Dr. Gordon is a real doctor – a Ph.D. in PoliSci. He joined the staff hoping to make a living writing about political science instead of teaching all over Southern California at three different schools.

He is brilliant. We co-wrote an editorial about the U.S. bombing of Libya that was echoed detail by detail in the New York Times’ the following Sunday. Not bad.

He sits down and slathers butter on a stack of toast. He douses the pile with syrup as he listens to us bragging about our win. He cuts into the stack and forks a couple of pieces into his mouth. In about two seconds they reappear, accompanied by retching. Conversation stops. All eyes turn to Dr. Gordon, who looks like he’s about to spew all over the table.

He gestures at his plate. “That is the worst French toast I’ve ever had in my life!” He gulps water.

“There wasn’t…any…French – “

He points towards a group of now-empty chaffing dishes. “It was in one of those over there. I took the last pieces.”

Coming in late, Richard took the pieces of toast remaining in the dish that had held the bacon – the slices that had soaked up the grease.

Victory tastes sweet, but even butter and syrup can’t make THAT breakfast taste good.