“What veggies do you want on your pizza?”
“All of them.”
The girl behind the counter at Positano’s looked at me blankly. I looked back at her blankly. Around us, the Friday night swirl of humanity packed into the closet-sized space of Positano’s writhed in the hot, stuffy air. At a table crammed up against the back wall, the Maestro, who hates small spaces with a lot of people almost as much as I do, looked on with quiet dismay in his eyes.
“Green peppers?” the girl asked.
“Yes. All of the vegetables.”
“Sun dried tomatoes?”
I looked at her again. “All of them.”
I looked at her silently for a moment, pondering what part of “all of the vegetables” had been unclear. Finally, I nodded.
I sighed, resigning myself to the fact that we were committed to this exercise, despite my attempt to short-circuit it with my “all of the vegetables” instruction.
Finally, when we’d run down the list, she looked at my order and said, “It’ll be about twenty five minutes.”
I blinked. I didn’t want to wait a half hour for my stupid pizza. I could just as easily have ordered a slice of cheese from the slices slowly rotating under a heat lamp on the counter. But, at this point, I figured I’d invested enough time in the simple ordering of the goddamn thing that I was obliged to wait for this masterpiece.
I trudged back to our table. Positano’s was one of those hole-in-the-wall pizza places that, yes, have a few, like, card tables set up in their cramped spaces and say that you can eat in as well as take out, if you really want to; but, c’mon, nobody wakes up in the morning and says, “Hey, let’s go eat at Positano’s!” They just don’t. Positano’s is a delivery place. It’s a carryout place. You say “Hey, let’s grab a slice from Positano’s on the way home!” The only reason the Maestro and I were here was because our first choice of pizza joint for the evening had been under renovation, requiring an emergency recalibration with the collaboration of Google Maps.
Which isn’t to say that Positano’s doesn’t have its charms, of course. It’s similar in vibe to Cuzco’s: a corner joint, which pins the success of its food on excess. Notably, excess of cheese. Positano’s correctly assumes that any problem with any food item, be it a pizza, a sandwich, a breadstick, or what have you, can be corrected with the addition of melted cheese. And, frankly, it’s hard to quibble with that argument. At least when it comes to corner pizza joints, cheese solves many more problems than it creates.
My pizza was hot when it arrived. Like, hot. Like, hot in the sense that Krypton was hot in the moments just after Superman was rocketed away from it on his way to earth. Hot in the way the Death Star was hot after Luke was done with it. Hot in the sense that Anakin was hot after Obi Wan was done with him. Hot in the sense that, had I used better judgment, I probably would have given it a few more minutes to cool, but I was already embarrassed that I’d ordered a goddamn half hour in the making pizza, and we were on our way to race go karts, and who wanted to spend any more time in this little cramped pizza place?
The bottom line being, my taste buds were inoperative for a day or two after our visit to Positano’s. Which was my own fault, to engage in a bit of self-reflective victim blaming.
“The only apps I ever use on my phone are the Italian dictionary and the metronome,” the Maestro was saying, as I was slurping lava-like cheese into my mouth.
“What color is the sky in your world?” I asked. A life without apps. I couldn’t really conceive of it. But then, I also couldn’t conceive of ever tasting anything again, having scalded every nerve ending on the inside of my mouth.
I think there was a cannoli after the pizza, but I honestly don’t remember. To be honest, this pizza outing happened, like, a month ago, before go karting, before the Maestro split town for a few weeks, and before my dad died, and right now my brain basically remembers anything that happened before my dad died in dim, almost black and white, silent-movie-esque frames.
But I do remember that pizza was hot.
Give your pizza a chance to cool down before you take a bite, kids. Doc’s orders.