Since my darling wife does not care for cheese, it is common practice for us to order a pizza with regular cheese on one half and light cheese on the other. I suspect that if she thought she could get away with it we'd order a pizza with regular cheese on one half and no cheese on the other, but then it really wouldn't be a pizza, would it?
But that is a discussion for another day.
The other night she was working late and I was tasked with picking up a pizza for dinner. Normally I try to avoid errands of this sort because they never go well for me. "It's just a pizza. What could go wrong?" she said when I voiced my concern. What could go wrong, indeed, I thought.
As I approached our favorite pizza establishment I noticed that our regular person, Juarez, was not standing comfortably behind the counter like he usually is. He had been replaced by a rather surly looking lad who's name tag hung crookedly on his stained apron and identified him as "Cork".
"Hello, Cork," I said. "Where is Juarez tonight?"
"Not here," he said. "Married."
"He's not here because he's married?" I wondered.
I made a mental note to get a card for Juarez. Once you find a good pizza man you want to cultivate the relationship carefully,
I could see that Cork was a man of few words, so I tried to make my order a simple as possible.
"I'd like a medium cheese pizza with regular cheese on one side and light cheese on the other."
"We don't do half and half," said Cork.
"Yes you do. Juarez makes it for me all the time."
"Juarez is getting married."
"Yes, I understand, but when he's not getting married he will normally make a pizza with half regular cheese and half light cheese."
"We don't do half and half."
"Look," I said, getting frustrated, "it's not like I want half pepperoni and half sausage or half olive and half, um, lemon..." I don't know why I said lemon. It just came out. I knew it sounded stupid. Lemon? My God.
"We don't do lemon," confirmed Cork.
I began speaking slowly, the way I do when I'm about to lose my temper. "All-you-have-to-do-is-put-light-cheese-on-one-half." I tried to put on a friendly smile, but I'm afraid it may have been more like an homicidal sneer.
"We-don't-do-half-and-half," he said, equally slowly.
This could go on all night, I thought. Clearly it was time for intimidation.
"Look," I said, rather more sharply than I intended. "You don't treat a long-time, loyal customer this way." I pulled out my Frequent Pie Buyer Club card which had eight holes punched in it indicating that merely two more holes stood between me and a free pie.
I slid it across the counter.
"Do you know what this means?" I demanded.
He looked at it as if it were something the health department would close them for if it turned up during an inspection.
"No, I don't. But I do know one thing."
"We don't do half and half."
You know, sometimes Chinese food is just what you want for dinner because, you know, no cheese...