Because of a small genetic mishap with my kidneys, animal proteins aren’t really a part of my dietary regimen any longer. Long story, not really very interesting, and the pertinent details have now been established.
As this medical snafu was revealed to me about three months ago, I am still coming to grips with having to let go of certain things. Rare steak, hamburgers, chocolate ice cream, pizza…
I am convinced Capitol Hill, Seattle has more pizza joints per capita than any other city area I can imagine, except maybe Chicago or New York. I am willing to admit that this is because I am denied the culinary delight they produce and the heavenly aroma wafting from their open doors creates small fissures of ache in my heart every time I walk down the sidewalk.
Case in point: Mama’s Pizza. 700 East Pine Street.
I pass this establishment almost daily on my walk home from work, around 4:45 – 5:00 pm. Prime pizza-noshing hour. The torment is this: the way the facility is set up, not only do you get to catch a whiff of their menu when you come around the corner, but you get to see them making it, selling it, and then the counters are attached to the windows where people can stand, eating their large, greasy, flopped-in-half slices of pepperoni and sausage supreme supported on weak paper plates. Sometimes you even have to weave around patrons on the sidewalk as they pack their faces…it’s like a war zone. So as you can imagine I have made a mental note of Mama’s Pizza, 700 East Pine Street. And I have, to the chagrin of some of my friends, made them aware of my making a mental note of Mama’s Pizza, 700 East Pine Street.
I told you that story to tell you this story.
Random Friday evening, Boon and I are on Broadway in the vicinity of Pine when we are approached by a shortish, roundish, African American man who immediately engages in the official Capitol Hill Panhandler’s Spiel.
Boon and I immediately engage in the Official Capitol Hill Denizen Panhandler’s Spiel Shrug-Off Stroll.
“Hey, you got any change, just a couple quarters, so I can get a bite to-“
“No, sorry.” Walk, walk walk.
“Come on, anything will help, ya know, just anything, maybe I could get a bag of…”
Walk, walk, walk.
“Maybe even you got a dollar, I could get a piece of pizza, ya know, go around the corner, ya know, Hot Mama’s Pizza…get a-“
This is where Boon steps up. Because she knows.
“Niff…Niff, let it go.”
“Boon…I got this.”
I turn to the panhandler.
A glimmer of joy spreads across his face.
“I- I said I could maybe get a piece of pizza…at Hot Mama’s. You know where that is? It’s just down on-“
“Oh, I know where it is.”
I reach into my bag and grab a dollar. He looks hopeful. And slightly bewildered.
I hold the dollar up and prepare my tirade. A tirade fueled by anger at genetic destiny and two vodka sodas on an empty stomach.
“Now.” I said. “I am going to give you this dollar. But you have to listen to me before I give it to you.”
Boon sighs behind me and I’m quite certain she’s rolling her eyes.
“Yes’m, ok, I’ll listen…”
“I can’t have pizza. I found out three months ago that my kidneys are shot and because of that I can’t have things like pizza anymore. And every day…
(Here I proceeded to go into the rant I entered into above. And as I did so I also happened to notice he was intermittently casting nervous glances at Boon…probably because as I was telling it I was doing so in a rather paternal-lecturing manner complete with hand gestures and squinty eyes…)
“…so, since you said you wanted money for pizza, you are going to take this dollar, and you are going to go get pizza since you can have it and I can’t. And you are going to enjoy it and you are going to be grateful. Are we agreed?”
“Yes ma’am! I promise!”
“Ok then.” I place the dollar into his gloved hand. Slowly. While staring at him out of the corners of my eyes.
“I’ll know if you don’t!” I figure honestly through paranoia is a good tactic.
“I promise! I’ll go get pizza!” He’s backing away…slowly…like you do when you’re not sure if a dog is going to bite your leg off or not.
As Boon and I walk off I turn around and point from my eyes to him in an “I’m watching you!!” gesture, to complete the monumental hilarity of the scene and the terrifying impact I wished to have upon this poor man.
Boon: “Niff. You scared the shit out of that guy.”
“I thought I was being funny…”
“I think he’s crying on his way to Hot Mama’s Pizza.”
“Yeah, but he’s getting pizza dammit.”
Part II comes later. Because as it turns out, he didn’t get pizza. And I busted his ass.
Two vodka sodas on an empty stomach folks.
Voulez-voulez-vous to be continued.