While at a Brittany restaurant to celebrate my birthday, the chef served buckwheat crepes to the guests and asked whether anyone would like fresh ground pepper. Everyone, except Yours Truly, said yes. Yours Truly said, “I once requested fresh ground pepper, then never again.” “What happened?” her guests asked.
“Once upon a time,” Yours Truly began. “I had gone out to lunch with a co-worker at a fancy shmancy restaurant. I ordered Tuna Nicoise. The waiter asked if I would like fresh ground pepper. I usually don’t ask for it, but on this particular occasion, I decided to be adventurous. He gave the grinder a twist, something made a noise, a part snapped off, and peppercorns sprayed out, all over the table, and raining down on my plate.
“I looked down at the hundreds of peppercorns and made a face. I gave myself a pep talk. ‘You can do this.’ I took a bite of tuna, and several peppercorns landed in my mouth. I told the waiter, ‘I can’t eat this.’ He removed my plate and promised to bring another. He did so because underneath it all, he knew I had grounds for complaint.
“And that is why, over eighteen years later, I have not requested fresh pepper since.”
Epilogue: A couple of years after the Peppercorn Fiasco, Yours Truly was in a not so distant locale waiting for the train. There were a few others on the train platform. One was a man who came over to her. “I remember you,” he said. “I was the waiter when you requested the fresh ground pepper.” They laughed and laughed, their conversation peppered by the memory of the peppercorns.