03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Secret Michelin Man

"Michelin has gone to extraordinary lengths to maintain the anonymity of it inspectors. Many of the company's top executives have never met an inspector; inspectors themselves are advised not to disclose their line of work, even to their parents." -The New Yorker

November 23,

Arrived home from my "business trip" in "Kansas City." If my wife knew that I was really at the Double Tree Times Square, asking the concierge to book me into Y---- and Brasserie G----- under "my name," she'd be hysterical. After all, parent-teacher nights are pretty horrendous, even with the support of your partner. Thank god for the "inconvenient timing" of the "annual company retreat."

The intelligence I gained was hardly worth the effort: stunning ceviches at Y----. Unfortunately, less talent when real cooking is applied -- another risk I've taken, possible discovery at literally every intersection, for nothing.

Except the ceviche, of course, and the missing parent-teacher conferences bit. I suppose I have to be thankful for the little things - what else is there in a life as dark as mine?

December 12,

Discovered a clever new ploy to fend off my wife's increasingly prying inquiries into "what happened at work," and her evident frustration at my vague talk of conference calls and documents: an invented work enemy.

This "Evan," as I'm calling him, has already been worked into the last three nights' conversations, to great success. My suspicions that he has secretly been taking the pink post-its out of my desk during my bathroom breaks or trips to the coffee lounge, ones I specifically choose from each new supply shipment for color-coordinating purposes on quarterly reports, seem to have gone over especially well. Her commiseratory "gosh, he just sounds like the worst kind of sneak. You know, I wouldn't even put it past him, I really wouldn't!" confirmed her credulity very reassuringly.

What shall Evan do tomorrow in order to "keep me late at the office" while I go report on Chef B-----'s new venture, I wonder? Maybe he claimed to have faxed some important files for review to the Sioux Falls branch, but I found out at some point during the day that not only did he not fax them, he didn't even complete them? I've established that his kiss-assery allows him to weasel out of situations where the blame should be his and his alone, but will this seem like too much for even Debbie to swallow? Will consider overnight.

Excellent monkfish at La R-----. Will send a follow-up team to look into this development further.

December 19,

Fear a leak at headquarters. Can't go into details now, no time, but suffice it to say that Reviewer X45-BABS hasn't shown up for days. Could her family have discovered she wasn't, in fact, a licensed massage therapist? Did she crack under the pressure of this cruel double life? Or was she a Zagat in our midst this whole time, undermining the organization from within?

I shudder to even think of the last option.

January 2,

Close call today; while walking into F---- for a "business dinner" with an out-of-work actor I found on Broadway (I only told him his role, of course), saw my wife across the room, gobbling and gabbling away with an unknown male. Was able to duck out just before she looked towards the spot where I'd been standing -- her sense of self-preservation must be nearly as honed as mine.

Do I dare to dream that this could be a sign that I can finally reveal myself to her, that our carefully concealed footsteps are actually following the same mysterious pathways? A Mr. and Mrs. Smith story come to life?

No, no, it's probably just an affair. Can I even hold it against her, considering the depths of darkness I've plumbed in my pursuit for the perfect poussin? Do I even have enough of my soul left intact after this brutal life of constant deception and palate-cleansing sorbets to care?

A lucky break for the actor, though, luckier than he'll ever know. Even being seen with me there would involve him more deeply than he could possibly imagine. Sure, my cover has been solid up to now, but that X45-BABS incident has left us all shaken.

Incidentally, she finally turned up ... floating in the Hudson. Investigators are assuming some sort of love rivalry because of the slashes in her face -- if only they correctly read the Z that all of us at the office see there, they might start to find a hint of the truth ...

January 14,

Have just arrived home from a debacle at P---- on the Bowery.

When I sat down to a cozy dinner with my book of Joyce, leather elbow patches proclaiming my life of the mind, I sensed that something was off. Things were ... too smooth. My water tasted like Fiji, though I specifically said that tap would be fine, and the hostess, an attractive girl in a silk sheath, smiled at me lingeringly, a ridiculous action given her age and my twenty years of battles with foie gras.

And then it happened.

The chef sent me a complimentary appetizer, something "special for a very special guest."

Who could have possibly revealed me this way? Ever since my hasty departure, during that horrible flight down darkened alleyways, every drop from every window air-conditioner a veiled threat, I've been going over the last weeks and months in my mind, to no avail. The fact that I can't find a single incident, a single exchange, that could be the root of this awful betrayal is even more terrifying than it would be to know whose hand holds the gun now pointed right at my stomach.

Though it's probably already too late, I have to take as many precautions as possible, at least make a mummery of protecting myself, if only to help maintain my own sanity. No one must read this journal, in case I do somehow manage to escape with my identity intact. Therefore, in tribute to its station, I make of it a final, bitter meal ...