Never is a word for young people. The word “never” is ridiculous and useless as one gets older. Anyone who uses the word in an absolute way, non-related to anything life-threatening, has consigned themselves to a life of inflexibility, restrictions and a certain smallness.
When I was younger, there were many things I swore I’d never do. Why? Because I had never done those things before, never tried them, and thus my list of nevers were easy to dismiss. Things I’d said I’d never do (in no particular order): eat raw fish, smoke, move to Asia, live in a shared house (again), have a one-night stand, wear pearls, tell people anything private about myself, date a guy who wears suits to work. The list of my nevers could’ve gone on and on (“’til the break of dawn”), as they changed with the years. I could’ve choked on my nevers.
One example: When I was a vegetarian, I despised pork more than any other meat. Why? 1) Because I think it’s a trend to hate pork 2) I had an extremely brief “I think I’m a Rasta” phase in 1999 3) Because I didn’t know then that my mind and will would be ever-evolving, flexible, and wholly subject to my desires.
Flash forward: A few days ago, B and I went to Hatos Bar in Naka-Meguro. B told me that, “Hatos is Southern Americana; an indulgent haven for pork lovers.” Hatos Bar seats only about fourteen people inside and four at an outside table. The first time I went with LD, as I’d reported in a previous post, we were offered a table outside. (It was freezing that day, so that was a no go). Paintings and other artwork cover Hatos’s walls, and its tables, chairs and bar area all have a rustic feel. The menus are slabs of board with food on one side and drinks on the other; the choices are few: pork belly, pork ribs, pulled pork sandwiches, mac and cheese, chili, french fries, chili fries, imported beers and other beverages. There are no greens on the menu, nothing that could be considered remotely healthy. (Ironically, enjoying a pork feast with no guilt is very “healthy” for me).
Over the weekend, we walked into the small space that smelled like slow-cooked ribs, family barbecues, and childhood summers. Unfortunately, when we tried to order the ribs, they were sold out; so, we ordered and shared everything else on the food side of the menu, except the chili. The pork belly (the first I’ve ever tried) was rubbed with spices, dribbled in bbq sauce, and served with a spicy potato salad. (To think, I said I’d never…).
Here I sit in Asia, on a warm day, with many others who’re enjoying this blast of sunshine, on an outside step overlooking the water, reflecting on my pork never and so many nevers that came before. Nevers I need to explore. What else have I missed out on?