Every week, L. and I go to salt hill, the local Irish-style pub. There's live music, a handful of friends periodically join us, and they have very good food. On the menu is a particular item, the Jake -- a bacon cheeseburger with a fried egg on top, with hand-cut fries on the side and mustard for dipping. Oh, it's good. It's damned good.
But the best thing about it is that I almost never order it. I make up my mind before going, nearly every week, "Tonight, what sounds really good is the Jake. I will have that." My arteries then groan in protest, but I ignore them. But then I sit down, and I have a good Irish beer, and I start to think to myself, "Self, maybe I'll be good tonight. Instead of splurging and having the Jake, I'll show virtue and restraint and instead have..." and then order fish and chips, Irish stew, cheesesteak, or any number of other things.
As good as the Jake is, then, its primary virtue is in being the worst thing on the menu, and yet an object of great desirability. It absolves guilt by its very presence on the menu, so long as you first give it its due respect - it would not do its job nearly so well if I did not walk in the door intending to order it every Tuesday.
This post is brought to you by the number 5: 5pm, that is, the time at which I started feeling hungry and remembering that it's Tuesday, and salt hill day. And what sounds really good tonight is the Jake. I will have that.