Prelude to Pizza

by Jeff Goode

copyright © 1998

Prelude to Pizza was originally written at the suggestion of Bill Taylor, the artistic director of Theatre Conspiracy in Fort Myers, Florida who was looking for a companion piece to perform with the one-woman show Lesbian's Last Pizza.

(Lights up on the Pizza Guy.)
I know you don't care about me.
You act like you're happy to see me sometimes.
An' it's the thought that counts, I guess.
But you just do it to hide how impatient you got from waiting.
Wondering if something happened to me.
Not that you care.
You're worried about the pizza.

And I guess I can understand that.
I mean, that's why you called right?
I don't remember anyone askin' for me.

So I'm gonna keep this short and sweet and get to the point and just say this:

(He takes out a pizza box. Stands there holding it in one hand.)
I'm the pizza guy.
I deliver the pizza.

That's it. That's my message.
Sometimes I think you think my relationship with the pizza is more complicated than that.
But nuh uh.
I don't make it.
I don't put the toppings on.
I just bring it.
I didn't take the order wrong. Or slice it wrong. Or make it get cold on the way to your house.
Well, maybe. But you also gotta blame the laws of gravity about that.
Because even in an ideal world. If the road to your house was a frictionless surface.
And it was the straightest distance between two points. And down a hill.
The pizza would still be mathematically colder from the time it left the oven to when it hits your mouth.
Which, by the way, it would also be accelerating at 9.8 meters per second per second when it did, so you don't want that anyway.

Truth of the matter is:
Unless somebody called to complain about how's my driving again.
And I had to cut through the kitchen on my way to the manager's office.
I probably never even seen your pizza before in my life. Or pie, sometimes we call it.
Really, it's just me an' the box on the way over.
The pizza is a purely theoretical.
So when you open it up and say:
"Where's my extra cheese?"
I honestly have no idea.
Check in the box would be my guess.
Cuz somewhere within the confines of this cardboard anomaly is where it should be.
But that's just a theory.
More a hypothesis, really.
Maybe we should run some tests.
Cuz for all I know there could be pancakes in here.
Or a raccoon. Smashed flat as a pancake.

(He feels the box.)
And he's still warm.

Of course, we both hope it's not a raccoon. But, if that turns out to be the case...
I think you understand why I don't think it should effect my tip.
It's not like I put him in there.
I didn't run him over and then stick him inside and leave your pizza on the roadside.
Although it would be funny if I did.
Not for you and me.
But whoever found the pizza.

(He pretends to find the pizza.)
"Look, pepperoni."
"...and it's still warm"
"Now how did that get here?"
(He pretends to look around.)
"Hmm. Animal tracks. Tire tracks. And they both end right... Hmmmmm."
(He picks up the pizza)
I'm not supposed to leave it on the ground like that.
That's one of the rules.
Don't let it hit the ground.
Don't store it sideways.
Wash your hands with soap.
Which is kinda silly, because this cardboard is acid resistant.
This box is so tough, you could store comic books in it.
You could pee right on it and the pizza would be fine.
In fact, I think the only reason we don't is because that would be bad.
And no one would wanna touch the box.
At least it's not going in my car.
But the pizza itself is completely sanitary. You could eat off it.
That is...
(Sly grin.)
If it's in here...
I'm teasing you, I'm sure it is.
(He shakes the box a little.)
There's something in there.

But I guess, that's my point is, you gotta always remember to don't blame the messenger.

Cuz it's like the Virgin Mary of the Freezer. Remember her?
I knew her.
I mean the lady that found her.
I didn't see the Virgin Mary in person till later when she was on TV.
She was the mother of a friend of mine, his cousin.
And she thought she saw the Virgin Mary in the condensation on a freezer door at Quik Trip.
They showed it on TV.
It was just this, ya know, condensation, and it was kinda Virgin Mary shaped if you look at it.
What's the word for that? Madonnic?
Kinda curved like a woman with a shawl over her head.
Peanut-shaped is, I guess, the word I'm lookin' for.
Or like half a snowman.
And these spikes around it from how the frost sorta crystallized and froze.
So it looked like she was glowing.
So, like a radioactive peanut.
Or the Virgin Mary.
Anyway, she discovered this vision. And they put it on TV.
And she took it as a sign from God that it was okay for Marco to be gay.
That's her son. My friend's cousin.
And also that she should play the lottery.
So since then, his whole family's been very supportive of his life style.
And they play the powerball.
So it's great that she was able to take something away from her experience with the freezer door at Quik Trip. But it's still a freezer door.
I mean, it still is. They didn't frame it or anything.
Somebody wiped it down, so you can't see the Virgin Mary any more.
But it's still there, keeping the Hagen Dasz warm.
And that's pretty much all it set out to do in the first place.

And that's like me.
I swear the way people treat me sometimes, you'd think I was a door to door salesman for Jehovah's Witness.
Believe me, if something jumps out of here and saves your soul, I will be as surprised as you. Cuz it's never done that before. I don't think my insurance would cover if I was driving around with a seatful of salvation.

The closest I ever came was one time I was making a delivery down over on.... Fuck.
Why can't I remember street names?
Well, anyway, what the point is, I was making a delivery and I rang the door and it got all quiet.
Cuz before I could hear yelling and hitting and stuff, and I rang the door and nothing.

And then this big guy came to the door. Opened the door. Bright red in the face and sweaty. And he's breathing kinda heavy, like he's gonna have a heart attack.
So, of course, right away my first thought is I'm thinking:
This guy is thirsty.
So I asked if he'd like a liter of soda pop with that.
Cuz that's one of the things we're allowed to do is suggestive sell on the soda pop.
Which they send us out with extra just in case.
And you can even, if you go to the bulk store, buy your own and sell them that and make a little extra that way if you don't report it. And it's pure profit. Except for what you pay for the pop, and gas and anything else you buy.

But I don't do that anymore because of one summer it was really hot and so I got some cases of root beer the night before, just in case.
And the next day when I was at my daytime job at the Walmart, it was 103 degrees in the parking lot and it exploded all over the back of my Chevette.
Not the parking lot. But the root beer.
And I had to sell the car after that.

Oh! Because I guess this was that night because he said:
"What? What do I look like?"
The guy.
And I said - and I wasn't just saying this - honest to God, he looked like a guy who could really use some root beer.
So that's what I said.
And he just started laughing. And kinda in my face.
And I know you're not supposed to do this.
But something came over me.
And I looked at him and I said:
"It's just 99 cents each.... Damn you."
Which, that made him laugh even harder.
But now, I felt like he was laughing with me, not at me.
And he said, "Okay. Get my wallet, bitch."
I guess that's what he called her. Because this woman, or his girlfriend, or whatever she was got up from sitting on the kitchen floor and wiped her eyes and went in the other room to get the money. So I went back out to the car.

And that's when I saw how all the root beers had exploded over the back of my car.
Because the pizza rides up front. So I hadn't even checked.
And I was just...
You know how when it's hot? And, like, you got root beer all over your upholstery. And you make minimum wage, and you drive a Chevette, and I just broke one of the cardinal rules of suggestive selling, which is... Don't say, "It's just 99 cents, damn you" to the customer. And he laughed in your face.
...and I just started crying right there in the drive way.

And the woman, the guy's woman came out of the house with money for the pizza and the root beer. And she put her hand on my shoulder, and she said... I don't remember. Something like... "Here's your money."
And I was gonna say "I'm sorry, I don't have any root beer", but when I looked up at her, I could see that she was pretty beat up. Y'know, like when somebody beats the shit out you. And she had a black eye.
And I looked at her and I said...
"I'm sorry, I don't have any root beer."

And she kinda went "Oh", like, ya know, when you don't know what else to say. And sort of stood there looking at the money like she didn't know what to do and you could tell she'd taken the time to get the exact change, which was eleven something, because of the coupon.

So that's when I said, "Are you okay?" And then she laughed. And she said "No."
Then she handed me the money, even the 2 dollars for the root beer and turned around and went back into the house. When she closed the door I could still hear the guy was laughing. And she was laughing. And I thought, ya know, if I hadn't come along right when I did with the pizza. And theoretically with 2 liters of root beer. And brought laughter into that house for one minute. ...he might have really hurt her, or something, or killed her.

Which is what eventually happened a couple days later from what I read in the paper.
At least, the address was the same.
Which, I guess I forgot to mention before, is why I had to sell the car. Not from the root beer.

...I don't know why I tell that story.