In celebration of National Noodle Day, Noodlebox is having a deal on their flagship dish, the spicy peanut noodle box. It’s just $5, plus the varying extra cost of the protein. I can’t pass it up, so I head over as soon as I get a minute to myself.

In line, my excitement is contained but my brain is working hard on deciding what to get. Normally I would add chicken, but I have enough leftovers from a homemade peanut chicken curry in my fridge, so it feels like the right time to branch out a little. I eventually settle on the $2 tofu as my macromolecule selection, and breathe a sign of relief. Just in time, as I’m at the front of the line, and I order the meal like a total pro.

While waiting for the takeout order, I feel more than a tinge of regret for not choosing the $3 pulled pork. I know, I know, no regets is the only way to live, but choosing the wrong protein can follow a person around for a lifetime if they’re not careful. And I’ve been described by more than one astute observer as careLESS (i.e. the opposite of careFUL). I’m a bit frozen, trying my best to let it go, serenity now and all that jazz, but I can’t help but kick my own butt for neglecting to get that tasty shredded pig, in favour of these suddenly unappetizing bean curd cubes.

On arriving home, I open the box with apathy, resigned to my boring meal.

But wait.

Keep waiting. It’s worth it, I swear.

I pull the cardboard flaps apart to discover that, hallelujah!, the restaurant made a grave but delightful mistake. My meal, this meal we all now care so deeply about, does in fact contain pulled pork! Did I will this change? I assure you that I did. It was tofu going in, but the walk home and my internal disappointment led to this fortunate transmogrification. I perform an unrehearsed dance and shout out my windows like an old movie character. It’s a wonderful Noodlebox, indeed.

But wait again. The ebbs and flows of this situation have not yet evened out.

I begin eating the noodly box, but this pork – this pulled pork I so desperately wanted, enough that the gods did a little magic to get it to me – it’s just, kind of bland. I keep eating it, hoping beyond hope for improvement, but it remains mediocre. Oh no. It occurs to me that I would’ve preferred the tofu, in every way. But how do I reconcile what has happened?

Should I be mad that the restaurant gave me the wrong order, or happy that they gave me what I thought I wanted, even if what I actually wanted was not what I really wanted, or furious that the only time the dinner elves ever listened to me it ended up like did.

Besides my own described struggles, how upset would I be if I was a vegetarian or vegan or pescatarian or filled with A+ blood? Maybe I got some of this wrong and the restaurant mixed up my order. How blown apart is the guy (or, obviously, girl) who spent an extra dollar only to be given tofu instead of pulled pork, if that guy (or girl) exists?

Actually, you know what? According to the receipt in my hand and my notoriously unreliable memory, I probably did actually order the pulled pork to begin with. Ah well. Live to eat another day. Even without a stomach.

May 18 – Chantal Kreviazuk gets a noodlish tale of transformative proteins
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