Everything is a disappointment waiting to happen. Bobby remembers being disappointed by the Eifel Tower and wondering what was wrong with him, how could he be disappointed by something that everyone finds so everything that is the opposite of disappointing? Was he incapable of wonder? He went to the Cirque du Soleil and found it boring. As a Montrealer this seemed especially wrong, like admitting you didn’t like hockey. The first time he saw the Statue of Liberty, he started humming Is That All There Is? not as some snarky reaction to what he thought was, essentially, a simple statue, but because he had felt so underwhelmed by it. He was underwhelmed by spectacle of all sort, by the skylines of cities, by the cathedrals of Europe, by a bridge that he was told would be breathtaking, or by an elephant, or by a sunset. The only thing that never disappointed him, for whatever reason, was a mountain, mountains were the definition of grand, and the more mountains the greater his awe. That and the perfect pork bun. Not quite Char Siu Bao, but the Korean-Japanese hybrid. The sandwich kind. The marriage of pork belly and hoisin and coriander and hot sauce perhaps and the soft doughiness of the perfectly steamed bun. He’d always thought if he could eat the perfect pork bun from the base of a mountain, he would have his moment, a kind of perfection that he could then recall forever, a kind of mountaintop of perfection, but he had yet to have this moment, because he’d discovered his feelings about pork buns relatively recently, and hadn’t yet had a chance to test his theory.
But then he’d read about a new food truck, serving nothing but pork buns with various toppings, and that it was parked at the base of the mountain, on Parc Avenue, and he thought, well, it’s kind of on the way to Abbie’s thing, I should try it at least, I owe myself that, and he made the small detour above Mimi’s complaints and parked behind the truck, all the while Mimi was imploring him not to get his shirt dirty and to hurry up, being late for Abbie’s opening was irresponsible, she used that word, and he promised he’d order just one, and he did, he ordered one, covered in kimchi and pickled daikon, with coriander and topped with hoisin sauce. And he walked to the monument and looked up at the cross atop the mountain and, well, the mountain was always underwhelming, or maybe he was just too used to it, but it wasn’t a mountain, it perhaps aspired to be a mountain, but the thing in the middle of Montreal was a hill, everyone in the city knew it too, but were too afraid to say something like that out loud, for fear of offense, like admitting your father is insane and not just an inveterate drooler. And so he turns his back on the mountain and he bites into the pork bun and closes his eyes, and imagines a mountain, a real one, capped with snow, he imagines a cool breeze flowing off the mountain like a current of down pillows, and he takes another bite of the pork bun, and then he’s admitting that maybe the pork bun isn’t the best he’s tasted. Because it isn’t.
“You look disappointed,” Mimi says, because she knows what he’s thinking, what he’s trying to conjure, and Bobby opens his eyes.
“Want to try it?” he says, holding the bun toward her.
“I want to go,” she says.
“I don’t know that I want to finish this.”
“It’s food from a truck.”
“It’s food from a kitchen that happens to be in a truck.”
Bobby pops the rest of it in his mouth. “It’s better than nothing,” he says, chewing. The pork isn’t soft enough, it should be fluffy, it should be as fluffy as the bun itself, and in its texture he can taste the reality of cooking inside a truck.