That Time A Panera Cashier Challenged My Masculinity

muffieI live in Astoria. It’s officially part of New York City but it has a smaller community feel with a lot of mom and pop-type places. Restaurants, coffee shops, clothing stores. If they do have brothels here I’m sure they’re run by adorable old Greek couples struggling to pay rent. The point is: chain establishments are harder to come by. So while my girl and I like supporting local businesses, every once in awhile we go to the Panera Bread down the street to get a fix of the good old fashioned Northern Virginia suburbia we’re used to.

So one day we decide to go. She orders a hazelnut coffee, her usual go-to. I’m in the mood for a chocolate chip muffin, the most underrated of all the baked goods. Panera doesn’t have that. What they do have, however, is a chocolate chip muffin TOP. Worthy substitute, right? Elaine Benes taught us that’s the best part of the muffin anyway.

Only it isn’t called a muffin top. It’s called a muffie.

Look: Panera Bread can call their products whatever they want. If they want to call the tomato soup the Kid Toucher Special they’re free to do it; it’s their establishment. But that doesn’t mean I should have to physically say the ridiculous name in order to get it. For whatever reason, I just don’t feel comfortable ordering something called a muffie. It’s embarrassing.

We approach the cashier and I settle on an internal compromise: I’ll tell the cashier I want a chocolate chip muffin. Close enough, right? I don’t say muffie, but I give her enough information to make an educated guess. Since Panera doesn’t have a chocolate chip muffin, I figure she’ll have no choice but to figure it out.

I smile politely and say, “Yes, I’d like one chocolate chip muffin.”

Furrowed brow. “We don’t have any chocolate chip muffins.”

She’s fucking with me, right? There is literally nothing else on the menu even CLOSE to the word muffin other than the muffie.

Now I half-heartedly mumble, “The muffin, y’know…the chocolate chip muffin” and limply gesture in the general direction of the baked goods in a last-ditch effort to not have to physically say that horrible word. If I can’t say it, the least I can do is point her in the right direction. It’s my way of meeting her halfway.

Another furrowed brow. “You mean a croissant?” She’s not giving me an inch. No one has ever mistaken a croissant fora  muffin. The words and objects are nothing alike. Clearly she’s going to make me work for this.

She walks over to the baked goods with a confused look on her face, drawing this charade out even further. Surveys everything, shaking her head the whole time, putting on a big show. This whole act felt like her way of saying, “Sir, when you’re in Panera, you WILL order EXACTLY how it appears on our punk bitch menu.”  It’s like a Starbucks barista who loses her ability to speak English and needs you to order your extra large latte as a venti. You know, in her native tongue of Italian.

Finally, I break.

“The muffie. The chocolate chip muffie.”

Her eyes light up like she just discovered the cure for ebola. “Ohhhh! You want a muffie.”

Here’s my theory: there’s no way this girl didn’t know what I was talking about. I think she picked up on how uncomfortable I was with saying muffie in public and for whatever reason, she wanted to hear me say it. It was like getting interrogated by a cop who knew I did it. “We got the evidence, now we just need the confession.” You win, Stabler. Didn’t even need to smash my head against the two-way mirror.

Another question: what pervert at Panera corporate thought it would be a good idea to name something on their menu a “muffie?” It takes like, a five second trip to Urban Dictionary to see why that’s a bad idea (see #3!). You’re telling me there wasn’t one person on that Alongquin round table saying, “Hey guys? We do all know that’s slang for vagina, right? Not sure how that’ll play in middle America. Plus there’s at least one guy in Queens who I know won’t be cool with it.”

Anyway, congratulations Panera Cashier. You got me to say the word “muffie.” Be proud. I’m sure the sickie vice president of operations who named the damn thing is.

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