Pepperoni or Cheese? Simple Question For Some; Vexing, Mind-Blowing, Life-Altering Decision For Others
A couple of weeks ago I was asked to help out at Back-To-School night at Kira's middle school. This is a chance for the parents to meet the teachers, and the PTA and booster clubs at most schools use it as a fundraising opportunity to sell food and drinks beforehand. While the idea of putting on a pair of plastic gloves and dishing out five hundred pieces of pizza sounded daunting, I hadn't had a chance to volunteer at Kira's new school, so I agreed. Besides, knowing how tight money is in the system these days, one slice of pizza sold could mean the difference between my kid having paper towels in the girls bathroom or having to wipe her hands on her shirt like we make her do at home.
By the time I arrived the other parents had already set up a row of tables on which sat eighty pizzas in insulated carriers. My job was to stand at the first table and offer a choice of either cheese or pepperoni; I would hand out the cheese slices and send the pepperoni requests to the next table, and then to the next for salad and drinks. Easy enough, thank god, since I was anxious to make a good impression on my first middle-school volunteering assignment. I'd hate to screw up and have one of the other senior moms give me a wedgie and shove me into a locker.
Everyone was cooperative and the line moved swiftly. And why not? The decision to have pepperoni or cheese pizza isn't exactly a hard one. (Not like trying to decide whether to have your cappuccino dry or semi dry - sometimes I ponder that one for a good ten minutes.) I got into a rhythm, and soon was calling out "pepperoniorcheese" like it was one word, like the really cool pizza guys do. Why, I was beginning to see a future for myself in food services and was dreaming of what I would look like in a stylish hair net, barking out orders for my fry cooks to "Load up another rasher of bacon!"
But my nirvana was cut short right at at the busiest time, in the form of a sixth grade girl and her mother. I could tell there was going to be trouble as soon as I asked "Pepperoni or Cheese?" and the girl furrowed her brows, put her hands on her hips and tried to peer into the box. "What kind of pizza is it?" she asked, oblivious to the bright blue and red Dominos logo on the lid - perhaps she thought I had drawn it on all the boxes myself with a Sharpie. When I stated the obvious, she whispered something to her mother who then asked if her daughter could see the pizza. Sure, I said, and opened the box. I glanced at the forty people behind them in line and shrugged, giving them my "Aren't people just wacky?" look.
More whispering followed, and then the mother asked if she could see another pizza. I paused, but obligingly opened the lid of another box, hoping they'd both suddenly realize they were lactose intolerant and transfer to another school. And then? Even more whispering.
And the mother asked to see a third pizza.
Sure! I answered. But why stop there? Just step around the tables here and let me open up all eighty pizzas, so that you can carefully examine each and every one. Take your time! Find the one, perfect slice out of all six hundred pieces, and once you find the one you want, I'll pick it up with my platinum spatula, have it blessed by the Pope and then serve it up to you on this diamond-encrusted plate.
Actually, I refused. I pointed to the line behind them, now fifty people long, and told them they'd have to choose a piece out of the twenty pieces before them. I pointed out that they were all the same, and if she wasn't sure maybe a nice plate of salad and a bottled water would make a lovely meal for the two them this evening. After some heavy sighing by the girl and a dirty look thrown my way from her mother, they finally pointed to two pieces of cheese pizza. I had to seriously hold myself back from licking each piece and rubbing them on my butt before handing them over.
What the hell is wrong with this mother? Okay, your kid's a picky eater - I get it. I'm sure she spends hours at home just trying to find something her kid will eat, running herself ragged trying to make sure her pizza is just the right shade of orange, and her spaghetti noodles are arranged in a pleasing counter-clockwise pattern on her plate. But when you're in a public place, holding up a line, isn't it time to say enough already?
I want to warn the poor guy who takes this girl out on a dinner date in ten years. She'll be the one who has to inspect the kitchen first, grills the waiter about every ingredient in every dish on the menu before she finally settles on the vegetable soup, and then asks to have them remove every speck of parsley, serve the potatoes on the side and have the carrots cut into the shapes of the silhouettes of the last ten presidents.
And whatever you do, don't take her out for pizza.
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tags: middle school | pizza | all the slices looked the same to me