The Yearbook Office
Writings on staying alive
 

At Paradise Cove, bet on Fishbone and Annette.
Party Over Here will live up to his name at Ascot.
Shia LaHoof at Standing Downs is this week's best bet.

Double Dragon, "Orange Soy Curls Banh Mi"

Portland has this thing where every bar is required to serve food, which has given rise to barstaurants where it's hard to tell on first visit whether you are meant to wait for a server or walk up to the bar. You can sit at a table for ages before realizing nobody is coming to take your order, and at the bar you won't know where to stand, and it can be a little overwhelming if you're hungry. Do you pay now or when you get your food? Do you tip the bartender or is there a jar? Do you make a joke about how awkward you feel in this new situation in this new pace, or just let your stammer and lack of eye contact speak for themselves?

This sandwich costs eight dollars and the bread will cut the roof of your mouth but the soy curls are chewy and soaked in some kind of salty-citrusy bath. You enjoy going into a bar in the middle of the day, and it helps that Double Dragon is in the same building as your therapist's office so you can cry about your inability to maintain intimate relationships and then stuff a convenient pile of fried down your throat.

Rating: Three wadded-up tissues in a jacket pocket.

Best Baguette, “Vegetable Sandwich”

Some nights you are hungry an hour before leaving work, and you will yourself to make it through the long commute without stopping at the Five Guys off Exit 6, but when the highway drops you off in your own neighborhood, the glowing Best Baguette sign reels you in. Home is a mere nine blocks away, but it's one of those nights, like so many nights lately, where the moment you walk through the door your remaining energy will leave like a sigh, so you pull into the drive-through and order the old reliable and maybe you'll make it home and eat it at the table, or maybe you'll park your car on the quiet street around the corner from your house, and maybe that neighborhood teen will walk by and see you cram-jamming a sandwich in the dark, and in the past you might have felt embarrassed, but now all you feel is cold satisfaction because you are an adult and you made a conscious choice.

This sandwich is fine. The tofu shreds are greasy and the mayo is gluey but the vegetables are fresh and the bread is whatever and it costs three bucks and it's there and it's fast and you're so hungry all the time.

Rating: Two minutes down the road.

Jade Bistro Teahouse and Patisserie, "Lemongrass Tofu Sandwich"

This is a good place to go on a fourth or fifth date when you're still getting to know each other's culinary likes and dislikes because there's something for everyone and it's easy to pay separately. A year into the relationship, you can come back and argue about whether or not you've been here before.

You can insist that you came here after a trip to the Goodwill warehouse where he got a broken Nintendo light gun and you got a children's book called “That's Kittens!” He can insist that you came here after roller derby one time, and you can remind him that the only time you've gone to a derby bout together, you ate at a BW3.

You have a very bad memory for most things, but a steel trap for things like this. This is because you've never been in a real relationship before now, and he maintains friendships with several exes including a -wife, and when you first started seeing each other you could tell he was taking you places he had been with other women. You know this is normal and unavoidable for dating adults in a relatively small metro area, but the scales are a bit tipped in your situation, and you can be a real know-it-all sometimes. When he acknowledges, finally, that you were right, you will feel triumphant and ashamed all at once.

This sandwich is delicious, with a delicate aioli, tofu marinated in magic, and perfectly pickled daikon. You will want to crawl inside it and go to sleep.

Rating: Five seconds without trying to prove you're right.

Voicebox Karaoke, "Tofu Banh Mi"

The only reason to eat at a private karaoke place that specializes in sake cocktails and remote control disco balls is to ward off public tears. The food here is unacceptable except in a hunger emergency at a holiday gathering where your friends and your boyfriend's friends will meet for the first time. You were already a little cranky before you arrived, and then you forgot your wallet in the car a ten-minute walk away, and now you are in danger of breaking down in the middle of that funny “Santa Baby” you made him practice on the drive over. The food will arrive quickly and be very bad; get it over with and move on to singing and laughing and exchanging white elephant gifts. Later, people will tell you what a fun night they had, and you will feel silly for the near-tears, and grateful for the boyfriend, the friends, and the boyfriend's friends, all of whom are patient and loving and exceptionally good at sweet, sweet karaoke jams.

This is a garbage sandwich made of limp tofu slices in a pool of sriracha on sliced french bread, but that's beside the point.

Rating: One rendition of “Tubthumping” that seemed like a good idea at the time.

Dolicious, Grilled Lemongrass Tofu

You didn't know “pod” was the collective noun for several foodcarts in one location until you moved to this precious town, but now you frequent the pod 15 blocks west of your house. It's a good choice when you can't agree on a restaurant because you the two of you have such specific and disparate dietary needs. He can get a platter of assorted meats from the barbecue truck while you order coconut soup from one cart and a sandwich from another, and you can meet in the table tent and admire each other's choices.

This sandwich is okay. You won't remember anything special about it. You will remember sitting in a public outdoor space and crying about your family, and feeling like this crying was different because you're not paying this person to fix you, and you're not using this sandwich as a balm, and it's a new and comforting experience to cry freely and eat a sandwich across from someone you love.

Rating: Four off-leash dogs in a place where people are eating but nobody seems to mind.