Bacon Pancakes by Mercury-Marvin Sunderland

I turned on the stove fan and opened the window. The kitchen was filling with smoke, and I didn’t want the fire alarm to go off again. Not like last time, when the whole apartment building had to go outside and the fire department came. That wasn’t my fault, but I don’t want to be the next guy to be berated by a cop for making a simple mistake.

I wanted to make the bacon pancakes from the TV show Adventure Time. There’s a scene where Jake the Dog fries up bacon, drowns it in pancake batter, and then fries it again, making bacon pancakes. He sings a song, “Bacon pancakes, making bacon pancakes. Take some bacon, and we’ll put it in a pancake. Bacon pancakes, that’s what it’s gonna make, BAAACON PANCAAAAAKES!” I don’t sing. I used to, but it made me feel too dysphoric. My voice eventually changed from my testosterone injections, but I haven’t picked singing up again.

While Jake the Dog and many people online have created those delicious strips of fried bacon covered in fluffy pancake, I was not one of those people. Granted, this was my first time trying, but the bacon was so cheap it didn’t even have stripes. It was dollar store bacon. It didn’t even sizzle in the way bacon was supposed to.

I also used way too much water in the pancake mix; it was so thin that the bacon couldn’t even submerge itself in the batter. I panicked and poured too much, until it turned into a giant pancake that filled up the entire pan with two strips of dollar store bacon inside of it.

I probably should’ve used a recipe. But, hey, at least it still smelled good. Pancakes and bacon. I made sure that the pancake was filled with bubbles; then, using lots of butter to oil the pan,  I flipped it neatly onto a plate.

When I got my next paycheck, I’d try to buy better bacon and be careful with the pancakes. It was hard being a culinary student on a budget. But, hey, in my defense, I didn’t know that bacon was one of the few things that don’t taste good when bought from the dollar store.

“Jake?” one of my roommates called from the other room. “You’re muttering to yourself again.”

Ugh. Of course I was. I’m a loud autistic, and I struggle with volume control because the sounds I make to myself don’t sound as loud to me as they do to everyone else.

The fluffy pancake in my dish didn’t look anywhere near as delectable as my usual homemade recipes for French onion soup or chicken parmesan or banana bread. We all have our off days. I slathered butter and maple syrup on the perfect golden-brown circle.

I stopped to open more windows. The kitchen sure got hot in such an already-hot city. I moved from Seattle to Los Angeles over a year ago, and I’m still not used to the heat.

I sat on the couch and turned on an old episode of Adventure Time. Though the show ended its run a long time ago, I grew up on it, and it’s always had a place in my heart. Picking a name after a cartoon yellow dog with a magical stretchy power was not what my parents would’ve wanted, but fuck them. They could whine all they wanted about me being a grown man instead of the girl they raised me to be. I’m still going to be Jake.

Sweet pancakes, fluffy and drenched in syrup. Soft on my tongue.

They may not be French onion soup or chicken parmesan or banana bread, but I’m going to enjoy my bacon pancakes.