Shira Bannerman // Brooklyn, NY
On one Thursday night in New York City, I was at a show at a small Lower East Side venue, one with a narrow staircase climb to the second floor which opened into a bar filled with Chinese karaoke videos on mute — a kind of background multimedia for the bands. I had recently (and bravely) emerged unscathed from an all-I-can-drink (well, a free-drinks) networking event, and I was relieved and excited to feel real again, as in free of business cards.
During a break from one of the sets, I kept my friends company as they smoked outside, when an energetic girl and a boy bounced up to us. They wanted a light. The boy was wearing a T-shirt covered in squiggly lines and a tough leather jacket. Comically-tough — more Hells Angel Halloween costume than Sartorialist. He introduced himself as Connor and we chatted and laughed together for awhile, before they returned indoors. When I followed them in a few minutes later, I sat at a table by the wall while everyone else danced.
And then, Connor came over to me because we had a secret to share. Moments before, I noticed him take a last swig from a whisky bottle he’d snuck inside that big leather jacket, and then leave the bottle on the table, when we had caught eyes. As the owners came over to inspect the situation, clearing beer bottles, but not touching that one contraband liquor bottle, he sat next to me to say thanks for not blowing his cover. We talked and joked, but the music was so loud that we were practically cheek-to-cheek, trying to shout in each others’ ears. It seemed a very natural transition to begin kissing. And then there we were, kissing.
When Connor and I went outside for another set break, my friends joined us, sweaty from dancing and ready for fresh air. That’s when it came up that Connor had been to culinary school. He pulled down his lower lip to reveal the word B-A-C-O-N tattooed along the pink inside of his lip, which he was holding down as if he were actually wielding a diploma, the lettering in the style of a bike-gang knuckle tattoo.
Boy was I surprised! My first thought:Well, now, THAT is the closest these lips have accidentally come to bacon. I said it aloud, too, fully aware that neither Connor, nor my friends, would understand how all those factors added up in my life. A second unanticipated pig-to-the-lip encounter — I wouldn’t have dared to dream it possible. But, I suppose, prepared as a Jewish girl can be to avoid bacon on diner griddles and in soup broth bases, it’s the unsuspecting spaces — the concert halls, the science rooms — that can really get you. Or that really seem to find me.
Shira Bannerman is the author of a previous Pork Memoir, An Unappetizing Temptation, in which a piece of formaldehyde pig fetus flies onto her lip at a Jewish high school. She writes, “…that day in science class is still the closest I’ve come to eating pig.” Well, a few years later and Shira’s lips have come just a little bit closer to the forbidden meat in an equally unexpected way.