Saturday, October 02, 2004

The etymology of breakfast pastries

I stopped into Pax yesterday morning for a breakfast pastry, and this very large woman was taking a very long time to order and yammering on about some sort of discount, clearly to the dismay of the nice people behind the counter. I wasn't terribly impatient for a change, but the thing is, the woman was standing directly in front of the pastry case, and occasionally leaning her entire body onto it. Now, Pax (a chain that's growing in New York at the alarming rate of a Starbucks virus) doesn't necessarily have the same thing every day, so not being able to peruse the selection while I waited was a problem. But what do you say? "Excuse me ma'am, you're too fat for me to see my breakfast?"

She finally stepped back while waiting for her smoothie, and I passed her on the line and ordered a chocolate chip scone.

"What is a scone anyway?" she suddenly asked me. Her face, which I hadn't seen was nearly as frightening as her rear, and her voice cut through the music in my headphones like a very whiny knife.

"'s a pastry," I said, with a definite tone of duh. Not that everyone in the world should have intimate knowledge of scones, but there are several right in front of you!

"Oh. Is it like a cookie?"

"Not really. It's sort of dry and dense, but usually pretty sweet."

There was a pause and I prayed we were done. How long did it take to put a scone in a bag?

"Well why is it called a scone?"

I don't know where this came from, but: "Why is anything called anything? Why is it called a cookie? Or a bagel?"

Missing my point completely, she said, "Well I just thought you might know, since you're eating one."

"Nope. I just know it's tasty.'s English."

"Ah." Curiously, that seemed to satisfy her. At least until whatever she had ordered arrived so she could complain about that.

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