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Pizzapalooza

pizza-705680BY Dobie Maxwell

Is there anybody on this planet currently among the living that doesn’t like pizza? Everybody I know does, but then again I don’t know everybody. I’m sure there are exceptions to everything, but somebody not liking pizza would raise a major red flag – kind of like somebody who doesn’t like sunshine or petting a puppy. Those freaks need to see a doctor while everybody else has fun.

While the vast majority of humankind does enjoy the pizza experience as a whole, the problem arises in that very few enjoy it in exactly the same way. There are options galore, and it becomes a challenge to find people who all agree on what and how to place an order at any given instance.

I always thought I was pretty middle of the road in my pizza preferences. I prefer a thin crust if possible, and as far as toppings go I’m pretty flexible. Sausage and mushrooms will work nicely if I am sharing it with a group, even though I like a lot of other things on it too. But I can bend.

The lesser number of people involved usually increases the possibility of getting the toppings I like. I was never good at math or geometry, but even I can figure out which half is which just by looking. It shouldn’t be all that difficult to please all parties involved, but you don’t live my life.

I would like to go on record as officially saying I am sorry for whatever I must have done in a past life to keep getting tortured in this one. I hope I am able to pay my debt to the universe so I can eventually join the ranks of those who live happily and without incident. I’m not there yet.

The other night I was asked to go out for pizza with a group. I wouldn’t call them friends, but they were nice enough people and I was flattered to get invited. We were all hungry and went to a pizza joint I’d never been to before. No big deal. It’s not like I was trying a new heart surgeon.

There were six of us total, and we sat down at a long table. I could tell there was going to be a problem when the drink orders got complicated. One guy fancied himself a beer genius and had to be informed in detail of every brand the place offered and how it would go with each topping.

Another guy couldn’t decide what kind of lemonade he wanted, and went through the complete list of every possible mixer from strawberries to iced tea. I was about to suggest strychnine, but it may have started a fight and I didn’t want to have to wait any longer. My stomach was growling.

A woman in our party had allergy issues and wanted to know every ingredient of everything up to and including the salt and pepper. I was about to suggest having a pepper mill inserted rectally but again I held my tongue. I didn’t know these people all that well, and didn’t need a skirmish.

All I wanted to drink was icy cold water, but I was told they only had bottled water and that it wasn’t free. This was becoming a lot more complicated than I ever expected, but it was only the beginning. Had I known what was ahead I would have excused myself and gone someplace else.

Ordering appetizers was next. I’m pretty simple myself; a nice greasy order of garlic bread will usually do the trick quite nicely. If I’m going to overdose on carbs, why not keep it simple? That way the hospital will be able to scrape it out of my aorta with a pipe cleaner so I can start over.

Not with this neurotic bunch. One of them wanted to “keep it healthy” and tried to order fried cauliflower without the breading. Clue phone, line one – it’s the Surgeon General. He wants you to ignore the warning on cigarettes and light up at will. One less idiot at a time will help us all.

The rest of the crew took a full fifteen minutes to debate the various items available, and after it came to a stalemate I suggested we just suck it up and order the pizza. We’d probably need more than one to feed six people anyway, so we might as well get started on hashing out those details.

Everybody looked at me as if I were the leader of the United Nations, but the reason I brought it up was because I was about ready to gnaw my arm off in hunger. I would have gladly eaten an entire order of lead paint chips with asbestos dip had one been placed anywhere close to my seat.

The ordering of the actual pizzas became an emotionally heated event that dwarfed the Israeli Palestinian conflict and made it look like a game of Parcheesi. Speaking of cheese, somebody in the group actually suggested there be a cheeseless pizza. Really? What’s next, a meatless steak?

Since there was no hope of everybody agreeing on one kind of pie, I threw conscience to the wind and offered up my favorite ingredients to see how they’d fly with the group. One at a time mushrooms, black olives and onions got both cheered and jeered, but when I dropped the bomb and threw out anchovies the table went silent. It was as if I suggested pork rinds at a bar mitzvah.

The woman with the allergy issues nearly fainted, and I thought we were going to have to put a call in for an ambulance. Hey, I wasn’t being unreasonable. I would have taken it on half of one of the pizzas, but that got shot down like a cross eyed crow on the first day of duck season. I was in enemy territory, but I was fully prepared. Those of us who like anchovies are like Navy Seals.

There are only a scant few, but we’re proud and vocal. I don’t know why I like anchovies, but I do. Somebody dared me to try them once and I didn’t flinch. Other than the salt drying out all of my inner organs, I thought they were delicious and have loved them ever since. But rarely will I get a chance to enjoy them with others. Such is life. Some people just don’t enjoy true delicacies.

After an intense debate we finally agreed on toppings we could all live with. But then came the next hurdle – crust. I grew up in Wisconsin and love thin crust pizza. There wasn’t much choice. Then I moved to Chicago and was force fed their thick crust style they are so proud of. Why they want to eat a cinder block with ketchup smeared on it is still a mystery, but I’ve never enjoyed it.

Those are fighting words in Chicago, as are “The Bears still suck.” I’ve been known to say those a lot more than any smart person should, but I can’t lie about how I feel. The only thing that sucks worse than the Bears in my opinion is deep dish pizza – with the possible exception of toll roads, but that’s another story for another month. Just because I live in Illinois doesn’t make me a F.I.B.

The argument raged about whether to order thin crust or thick, and I suggested one of each and thought I had solved the problem. As it turned out, thin crust would take twenty minutes to bake and thick would take six months to a year. Nobody wanted to wait for the other, so we eventually settled on thin. I was losing my appetite to be around this group of imbeciles but I was still ready to eat rat poison to stop the gurgling of my stomach. I just wanted there to be food within reach.

Finally after a wait that seemed longer than the Cubs quest to win a World Series, two pizzas showed up. One would think the arguing would be over but one would be WRONG. The server hadn’t even placed the second pizza on the table when someone started whining about the way it was cut. This numbskull was used to it being cut in squares, but it had come sliced “pie style.”

We all ate our pizza and went our separate ways. I haven’t seen any of them since. I don’t plan on it, but if I do we’re going to eat anywhere else…how about Kentucky Fried Chicken? Let’s see – is that original recipe or extra crispy?

To find the next live performance (aka Hell Gig) of stand up comedian Dobie Maxwell, visit dobiemaxwell.com

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