Some nights, I forget to eat dinner. Other nights, I forget to eat dinner, have a few beers, then venture, dangerously, into the sea of 18th Street establishments that serve up a slice of pizza roughly the size of my head and neck.
Last night, my foolhardy wanderings landed me at the Pizza Mart just south of the Diner. I was not unwise: I had convinced a companion to accompany me in the consumption of this “Jumbo Slice.”
We were to have pineapple on it.
My companion and I approached the pizza man who stood behind the counter. “One slice of pineapple pizza, please,” I said.
The pizza man had a companion of his own: a second man who sat, tapping his foot, behind the register. The two exchanged a sidelong glance before launching into a brief but fiery conversation that, I knew, concerned the pineapple.
“What?” I said.
The standing pizza man turned to me. “We don’t serve toppings beyond cheese and pepperoni past 9 o’clock,” the man explained.
I glanced at my watch. The time was approaching 10 p.m. “That’s fine,” I said. “I’ll take cheese, then, please,” I said.
The pizza man’s seated companion became agitated. “Of course not!” he exclaimed. “You’re a lady! We’ll do that! Pineapple, for the lady!”
“Thank you!” I exclaimed, instinctively. But then, as the pizza man prepared my pineapple pizza through the delicate and mysterious Jumbo Slice process, I began to consider the words of the pizza man’s seated companion. I was a lady. And my femininity, it seemed, granted me special powers in this establishment. I glanced suspiciously at my companion, a gentleman. Without me, he would go without pineapple.
The seated man spoke again. “Brussels sprouts!” he exclaimed, his foot tapping harder. “Have you ever tried brussel sprouts?”
“No,” I said.
“Have you ever had grilled brussels sprouts?”
“No,” I said.
“I’ve had steamed brussels sprouts,” claimed my companion.
“Grilled brussels sprouts—-excellent!” The seated man exclaimed. “Stick them in there!”—-he motioned toward the pizza oven—-“Five minutes! Very, very good flavor! Grilled brussels sprouts! I’m telling you! You must try them!”
I recalled the lady-power that I held over the pizza man’s seated companion. But how far did it extend? “When will grilled brussels sprouts appear on the Jumbo Slice menu?” I tried.
The seated man shook his head forcefully. “Never!”
We got our pineapple pizza and ate the shit out of it.