TODAY’S DRINKING STORY:
Here we see Patrick Wensink discover the magic of being drunk and hungry and a picky eater.
Sometimes the Pizza Fairy sprinkles her magic dust on our lives like grated parmesan.
This garlicky nymph only appears maybe once in a lifetime, if at all. Your odds of spotting a sasquatch waterskiing behind a Nessie-powered boat are probably higher. Ah, but when the Pizza Fairy hits town, you never forget. Even if you are dangerously close to blacking out.
Technically, the mistress of all things cheesy did not visit me.
But, then again, technically she did.
Or, rather, the Pizza Fairy simply used me as a medium the way Beethoven used a piano. The Fairy actually handed over her fresh, piping-hot miracle to my college buddies.
I was 19 and drunk.
I can’t tell you what season it was because I spent most of that year drunk. Thursday through Sunday I felt like I’d failed if the room wasn’t spinning. And many Mondays were also drunk. Often Tuesdays for dime chicken wing night. Wednesdays, though, were for studying. Unless there was no test the next day, which meant keg stands.
But this particular story happened on a weekend. I’m sure of it.
While at an off-campus party, I got hungry and wandered back toward the dorms. Little did I know, the Pizza Fairy was watching from overhead.
Ah, but she doesn’t just improve life via Italy’s finest export without a little retribution. She’s a tit-for-tat kind of fairy. That evening, the Pizza Princess utilized a Mafioso-like cruelty before ushering in her kindness.
Staggering back toward the dorm, Domino’s commercials were buzzing through my brain. I was dreaming of something called the “Pizza Italiano”. I think I was swayed by the gondolas in the advertisement, to be honest. Which is a little embarrassing in retrospect.
That special treat was nothing more than a regular Domino’s pie topped with chicken and peppers and onions. You know, the authentic Italian way.
The way the Pope eats pizza.
This was exciting territory for 1999 in Dayton, OH. There wasn’t exactly a Spago serving up arugula and bean curd pizzas down the street. Poultry on a pie was about the craziest thing I’d ever heard of. I just cashed a paycheck that Friday and was ready to dive into a massive slice of Italian culture.
But paying Christopher Columbus back wasn’t so easy. See, I was a picky eater. And that’s where Pizza Fairy miracles start flying four-at-a-time.
“Hi,” my slurred voice said. “I’d like to make an order for delivery.”
Ask me anything I retained from college physics, English or even that remedial math class and I will draw a blank. However, I could recall Domino’s phone number with the room see-sawing, playing Madden 2K and carving a shotgun hole into a can of Milwaukee’s Best Light with the greatest of ease. Somehow I still know the number. It’s one of those things you can’t forget, like how mom always knows your birthday.
“I’d like the Pizza Italiano. Thin crust. No peppers or onions.” I do not hide the fact that I didn’t even eat salad until later that year, on a first date with my future wife. Not wanting to look weird, I struggled through a small pile of greens. Today, I love veggies. But not in 1999. That’s important to remember. Vegetables might as well have been made from Polio.
“So, like, you just want a chicken pizza?”
“Exactly.” My stomach was knocking around like a rusty lawnmower engine. This was going to be epic.
The wait, like with all late night pizza, was a breeze because I was drunk.
An hour later I brought a large Domino’s box up to the room and opened it, ready to cross the space time continuum of my culinary future. Chicken on a pizza! Holy shit. What next, fish in a taco?
I was adventure-ready. However, the Pizza Fairy’s first trick came swift and mean. I stared down at a thin crust Italiano, but with peppers and onions. Little green and white veggies laughing at me.
I nearly got sick. I’m about fifty percent sure it was from the smell of vitamins and nutrients wafting up and not booze.
“Hello, yeah, hi. I just ordered the Pizza Italiano. You guys got my order wrong…” I repeated the order: Thin crust, no peppers or onions.
They said they’d deliver a new one. In the interim I tried to pick off the gross toppings, but those nauseatingly healthy germs clung on each slice. Forget it.
Half an hour later, another pizza arrived. The exact same pizza.
I phoned again and explained the error, growing more frustrated and hungry by the minute. They said they would deliver the correct order, they were sorry.
I fell asleep drinking a beer when the driver called an hour later. This pizza, too, was wrong. No veggies this time, but it came atop original crust. Doughy, gross Domino’s original. Yuck! While this dish was perfectly edible by even my prissy standards, a personal vendetta had formed. I demanded they get one simple freaking order right.
So…you get the picture.
By the time the fourth and final Pizza Italiano arrived, it was late and I was tired. I opened the box, satisfied with the correct order and promptly passed out in a strange position.
Meanwhile, my three best friends were apparently returning from a night of heavy drinking. Equally hungry, but dead broke.
“We came home,” one of them will later tell me. “Ready to just eat some chips or something and pass out. We were really hungry. Starving.”
And then, the patron saint of tomatoes and mozzarella appeared.
“We walked in the door, griping about how much we really wanted a pizza, but couldn’t afford one,” he will tell me the next day when I wake to find four empty Domino’s boxes. “And there you were, snoring on the floor. You had one hand clutching a slice.”
The scene must have been like a sack of money falling out of a Brinks truck in a Depression-era movie. There was, from all accounts, an intense scramble for rejected Pizza Italiano.
“We had no idea why you were lying on the floor with four pizzas, but we really didn’t care. It was like the Pizza Fairy had visited. Wow!”