Monday, March 12, 2012
Has this ever happened to you?
It’s a late afternoon that's swiftly turning into evening. You’ve been sticking to your diet like a champ in training, but damn it, the time for fun has come and you deserve a special treat! You’re in the mood for your favorite food. You begin to crave this food so much you can actually TASTE it on your tongue. You know its flavor by heart. It’s so mad-crazy-stoopid delicious, you’re actually salivating. It's sooo damned good, even your senses trip and begin hallucinating. This becomes your one and only preoccupation.
You just can’t WAIT to sink your teefus into this delectable meal. It’s… it’s even mo betta than great sloppy sex... on dough!
This object of desire could be most anything edible and mad luscious. In my case, it happens to be that once–a-month slice of mouth-watering NY-style pizza served up so spicy-hot with that tasty killa combo. Yes, that combo! It has become so familiar to the senses and to the people working within the establishment that it has earned its own shorthand nickname: “Pizza/ MOP.” M.O.P = Meatballs, Onions & Peppers. Oh my!
Luiggi knows how to do it up most righteously. It’s long ago become akin to witnessing fine performance art just to watch him flipping the dough and then making a spectacle of olive oil, tomato sauce, mozzarella, parmesan and shredded feta cheeses. There’s so much love in this cat’s work. There’s a sense of pride in knowing that he’s creating these edible masterpieces for the masses, sometimes cranking out about a hundred of them a day.
This place, this joint, this spot, this boite has become such a usual and perhaps even vital part of your world, your sphere, your lifestyle and your steelo, that you begin to think of it as your own personal Cheers. Yes, everybody there KNOWS your name. Sometimes, they even shout it out in unison when you enter.
And afterwards, the more somber, buttoned-up waitress addresses you as "Leonardo."
This is love, right? It’s like your second-home. This is your Valhalla and your Mecca. It’s your sweet spot and your ambrosia!
The atmosphere is friendly and clean, but not too ornate or fancy. It suits you. It invites you inside to partake in a variety of Italian cuisine and culinary delights. You like it here. You can kick back and exhale here. Ahhh yes...
So you turn that familiar corner, hungry, beyond hungry… just so damned anxious to taste that nirvana on your tongue... And then... you notice how the place looks somehow different and strange and unusually darker. Hmmm… you wonder: Are they going for a newer, dimmer ambiance? Then you attempt to open the door, this entrance to your second home, expecting to be hit by the smells of all those delicious aromas wafting up your nostrils, and that patter of friendly banter caressing your ears, and the employees there to call out your name like they tend to do, which both embarrasses and welcomes you… ONLY... the door never opens... those aromas never arrive... and the banter never materializes.
That damn door is LOCKED!
It’s closed, yo. Closed? No. NOOOOOOOOOOOO! Can't be. This is madness! Aiiight now… stop playin’ y’ all! I’m serious! Hey, its Lin, yo! Open up!
Only no one ever comes to the door, and no one is there to greet you.
This place, your second home; that dome of heavenly aromas is gone. Is no more.... is Poof! Is... ghost! Is... Out. Of. Business!
Pipe in that Esther Rolle as Florida Evans patented 1, 2, 3, 4 times with feeling:
"Damn! DAMN! DaMMMMN! Day-YUM!"
No one told you. No one warned you. No one ever gave any clue that this day was coming.
You feel all at once: ravenous and foolish. This feeling soon morphs into chronic states of disbelief, disappointment and then... betrayal. This suddenly shifts into curiosity, grief, anger and something like a death within your immediate family.
How could this possibly happen? Where the HELL will you get your pasta fix, now?
More importantly: What will happen to the workers, the cooks, the waiters and waitresses? What will become of the ambitious bartender who wanted to be an actor, and had once appeared in a bit role on an episode of Law and Order, and who never failed to mention it once you indulged in conversation that lasted longer than a minute or two? What would become of these beautiful people with their humble plans and their dreams, their ambitions and their families?
Yes, the hunger pangs are physical and pressing, but it’s the Bigger Picture that is haunting and much more overwhelming.
This economy is a beast that gobbles up the dreams of little people in one fell swoop.
This economy is a bitch that gnaws at the arms and legs and the vital parts of this collective body we call America.
This economy is taking the (fast) food from my mouth, and squashing the souls of those who once served it up with a smile.
Yes. They’ve turned off all the ovens, shut off the lights, and bolted the door shut to my favorite pizzeria.
Never again will I imbibe in the utter lusciousness of a 'MOP' slice.
Never again will I hear my name shouted in some slightly Italian accent as I enter that small piece of urban paradise.
This isht hurts so much… and not just within that gnawing empty space inside of my belly.
Nah. It's so much BIGGER than that!
This time... it’s gotten personal!
"Damn! DAMN! DaMMMMN! Day-YUM!"