Sad Millennial Mixtape for Dining at Farm-to-Table Restaurants and Ordering the Cheapest Menu Items

“Suspicious Minds,” by Elvis Presley

After being seated and quickly determining you can’t afford the craft beer here, you overhear the phrase, “I’m Hufflepuff.” The wait staff is arguing about which Harry Potter house they’d be in if they could choose. Your partner quips, “No one ever wants to be Hufflepuff!” Silence. “Wait, do they?” You mention JK Rowling is a trans-phobe. What bothers you the most is the entire wait staff, which looks exhausted, disheveled, and spurned, is your age — middle-aged and geriatric Millennials. The waiter comes to your table, suspecting you’ve been listening, and anxiously wrings his hands. “I regret to inform you we don’t have sparkling water.” This is a major Millennial faux pas: What could you possibly order to drink that isn’t $15? You ask for tap water “with lemon.”

“You’re the Voice,” John Farnham

The Millennial host sitting by the door wears a bright red jumpsuit and bites her nails in-between incessant phone calls from Boomers confused about reservation rules, mask-wearing, and whether or not it is actually Tuesday or Saturday. She begrudgingly seats a tiny old lady wearing a floral blouse and pink slacks at the table next to yours. The old lady is unassuming until she opens her mouth and emits a sound you’ve only ever heard in rural Iowa. She’s eager to remind her similarly geriatric table mates that she’s from the East Coast but is “fine with Chicago – that’s where I’m sending an unpaid intern this summer.” “That voice!” comments your partner, as you enjoy the complimentary bread and butter that you had to ask for twice.

“Dreams,” The Cranberries

You receive a small eggcup from the waiter, who has stuffed four slices of lemon in it and informed you it’s for your water since he feels terrible about the delayed shipment of sparkling water from their supplier. “They import it all the way from England.” You’ve been to England and wonder why this is a good thing. Premium sparkling water should come from a geyser in Bhutan, the ethereal tears of a fairy, or maybe Whistler, Canada, but England importing water seems menacing and unsound. We all know it’s most likely rainwater from Oxfordshire run through SodaStream and packaged in glass blown by Scottish sheep.

When the waiter returns, you order two appetizers: half a vegetable salad and a plate of brussel sprouts smothered in maple syrup and bacon. Your partner has eaten all the bread because you are on a half-hearted version of the Keto diet where you can eat all the vegetables and clean protein you want, but spend your spare time archiving Bon Appetit recipes for honey pie, pork fried rice, and tacos and tweeting about iced lattes featuring alternative milks. All of your dreams feature maple syrup and bacon; the donut – I mean hummingbird – hovering outside your window is the color of maple-soaked bacon.

“What Have I Done to Deserve This,” Pet Shop Boys

Your waiter returns now with your entrées: short rib ravioli for your partner and trout for you. You have an autoimmune disease where, at times, bell peppers and other night shades such as white potatoes bother you. It’s not difficult to sub out white potatoes for some other vegetable, but when you asked the waiter, he got very anxious again and contorted his face into the same expression he had when he thought he’d have to call England. “I’ll ask the kitchen; maybe we can just give you more peas?” Farm-to-table has suddenly become very British.

When it arrives, your trout entrée is swimming on a bed of spring peas: everything is green. The waiter is grinning because he thinks he’s done a fabulous job taking your “allergies” into account when really it’s not an allergy and you’re suffering from a great malaise – you’re a Millennial and your body is breaking down 20 years before that of your Boomer parents. You take a bite of the peas and quietly weep; your partner inhales his raviolis as you gaze out the window wistfully. “You don’t like mushy peas?” your partner jokes. “Maybe they knew you were Irish-American.” You are offended, but then again, you are a Millennial and offended by everything, including bad driving in Connecticut, email micro-aggressions, and unaesthetic kitchen appliances.

“Rainbow in the Dark,” Dio

Your brother’s favorite song. He hasn’t messaged you back in days, maybe because he’s gone off-the-grid to live on a table – I mean, farm – in rural Wisconsin.

“Every 1’s a Winner,” Hot Chocolate

The “chocolate bar” you ordered is literally a log of chocolate mousse lying next to a glob of whipped cream and cookie crumbles. Price? $9.00. You wondered why a chocolate bar would be that expensive but settled for it anyway because you won’t pay $14 for a frangipane raspberry tart you can make at home from groceries that cost 7 times as much. This is an example of Millennial shrewdness.

Morgan L. Ventura (they/she) is a Sicilian-Irish American Rhysling-nominated poet, essayist, translator, and ex-archaeologist from the Midwest. Their poems and writing appear or are forthcoming in Strange Horizons, Bending Genres, Geist, and Ghost City Review, among others. Ventura also is an editor for South Broadway Press. They tweet @hmorganvl

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