While eating a pumpernickel bagel with cream cheese, a young man entered the Manhattan Bagel in Studio City. He was wearing a plaid shirt with suspenders and had super cool hipster hair. He began talking to the purveyor of the establishment and the two obviously knew each other quite well. They spoke for a while until the young man said, “I’ll have the regular.” He was himself a regular at this bagel shop. I did not meet this man, but this is the conversation we had while he waited for “the regular.”
ME: What exactly is “the regular”?
REGULAR: Jalapeno cheddar bagel. Half toasted. Half untoasted. The toasted side gets peanut butter and tomato. The untoasted side gets hummus and a fried egg.
ME: Nothing to drink.
REGULAR: Strawberry Yoohoo.
ME: That is an amazing breakfast. Is that some sort of hangover recipe?
REGULAR: On the contrary. That little concoction will get you as high as a kite.
ME: No shit?
REGULAR: I shit you not.
ME: How did you come across this combination?
REGULAR: I was backpacking through the Ukraine and stumbled across this gathering in the middle of the forest. Bonfire. Black robes. The whole nine. Some sort of secret society. They caught me and force-fed me this little recipe. Best night of my life.
ME: (jaw on floor – no response)
REGULAR: Got to have to strawberry yoohoo though. Do not try to substitute chocolate. That is not a good scene.
ME: Good to know. So how often do you eat it?
REGULAR: Few times a week. I’m a musician. So it helps me write.
ME: How long would you say you have to come to the same place and order the same thing to be a regular?
REGULAR: Depends on the frequency of the visit. If you go to place 5 days a week, then it only takes 2 weeks. If you only go once a week, it could take 6 months or so. But if you go once a week, you have to go on the same day. If you go randomly, it is very hard to be a regular. Even if you go often.
ME: I’ve always wanted to be a regular. But I also always want to order something different.
REGULAR: Regular is regular. You can’t be a regular unless you are regular. It takes some dedication. It’s much easier if you live close to the place and if it’s a mom and pop type establishment. Also, it should be easy food - bagels, coffee, sandwiches. Stuff like that.
ME: I’m semi-regular at a Chinese place.
REGULAR: Chinese is good. But it’s actually easier to be a regular if you order take out and then go pick it up.
ME: Yea. Yea. I see that.
REGULAR: Hey I got to run. Been a pleasure. If you ever want to get high, you know where to find me. I’m here all the time.
ME (to the bagel guy): I’ll have his regular.