International Writers Magazine: Pizza with aliens
Merton and I had
been together for nearly a year, but have grown very close in
that short time. He was like a big, furry pet. I do not know why
it surprised me that he had never had a pepperoni pizza. After all,
he had never had vegetable soup before I introduced him to it. Nor had
he had steak, or lobster, or turkey sandwiches.Merton's tastes
were extremely unassuming.
G David Schwartz
Merton's dream was about to be fulfilled. The good Lord willing,
and a little bit of luck, Merton would have what he had been nagging
me about for the last twelve hours. Merton was about to be
satisfied. Why did I face the moment with such trepidation,
Once we had broken the difficult language barrier -- which was
a small matter for me, really, being a communications specialist --
we discovered as world of Merton's wants and needs which could
be satisfied with little problem. He was doing his best to adapt. He
awoke each morning from the mat at the floor of my bed and wagged
his ears eagerly for the lessons of the day to begin.
Not surprisingly, Merton's interests peak most, and his abilities
to comprehend succeeded best, around issue of food. Realizing
this fact early, I developed lessons around the edible and the
non-edible substances in the apartment. He had a particular fascination
with causations, so I picked u a book on clams and crabs and the
like. His fascination disappeared rapidly, however, when one day
he solved his curiosity about what was, and what was not edible
about a shellfish. Shells were not edible. Meat was edible, and tasty,
not at all like the foodstuffs to which Merton was accustomed.
It was as simple as that!
So yesterday he saw on television another item which living with
me had ntroduced to him, a pizza commercial. Although my tastes were
oriented toward the Discovery Channel and other science shows,
with an occasional dramatic production on P.B.S., Merton let me
know in no uncertain terms that he found these programs annoying.
He preferred cartoons. He liked the loudness, the swirling of
colors, the nonsensical plots. He paid particularly close attention
to the commercials. He liked the repetition. He liked the way
they filled him with desires, which his brain would not otherwise
invent on its own.
So, as I was saying, Merton saw his first commercial for pizza.
Although the commercial really did not show anyone eating the
pizza, Merton intuited that it was food. They showed a steaming platter
of the dough covered with inviting ingredients and Merton began
clamoring and howling like I had never seen before. When Merton was
a small bacteria, he whimpered quite a bit. But I had never heard him
howl in such a pitiful manner. I explained in the dullest manner
possible what a pizza was dough with various garnish, but this information
only whet his appetite.
When nothing else would soothe him, I promised we would have a
pizza sent in. His joy was unbound. He jumped up and down, as best a
creature of his sort was able, and insisted we order the pizza
"We cannot," I explained, "It is the middle of the night
and the pizza shops are closed."
I am not sure Merton understood the concept 'closed,' but he got
the idea that he was not going to have pizza that evening. He
was disappointed, but seemed to understand that he must delay his impending
gratification until the morrow. He spent as restless night,however,
and in the morning was begging for pizza. I explained that the
pizza parlors were not yet open, but he was not convinced. He made me
understand that he wanted a description of pizza, which better fit his
image than I had given yesterday (or did he simply forget the
object of his demands,). Inasmuch as I understood that I would be unable
to experiment on him unless and until he was satisfied, I described
pizza and listed a few of the ingredients, which may be added for taste.
He was especially excited when I pronounced the word 'pepperoni.'
He made me pronounce the word again and again, savoring the flavor
of the word. Pepperoni!
I explained that I could not adequately described the tart, tangy
taste of the treat, being a scientist and not a novelist. He made me
describe how pepperoni looked. No sooner had I finished than he made
me describe its appearance a second, a third, a fourth time. My
description did not change a bit, pepperoni being such a simple thing,
but the words seemed to fulfill a inner desire in Merton, and he became
more and more excited with each repetition he forced me to tell.
"Pepperoni is a short, round, almost brown, deliciously edible
Each time I used the word 'edible' his eyes lit and he attempted to
say the word himself. "Edible," I encouraged him, "You
can say it."
But he would become frustrated and gesture for me to repeat my
description. I did so, innumerable times.
"Pepperoni is a short, round, almost brown, deliciously edible
I thought noon would never arrive. Merton oozed to the cabinet and
slunk back with the telephone directory.
"All right, all right. I'll call."
I placed an order for a medium sized pepperoni pizza. "Edible,"
Merton said. It was his first word. I nearly dropped the phone. The
voice on the other end was telling me how long it would be before
the pizza arrived, but I was trying to get Merton to repeat the word
he had just said. But Merton would do nothing but stand by the
window and wobble in a circular motion on his six legs, and allow each
tongue to lick his lips. "'Edible', Merton. Say 'edible.'"
But he would not.
At last, the delivery truck arrived. Juan, the short, chain-smoking
kid who lived in the neighborhood, waddled up to the front door. He did
not even have time to ring the bell. Merton threw open the door, licked
his lips, shouted, "Pepperoni. Edible," and devoured Juan.
"Oh, Merton," I cried, "This is not right. This
is just not right." There was not even a pool of blood to indicate
where Juan had stood a brief moment before. Merton, meanwhile,
had kicked the pizza box into the bushes as he turned on the stoop
and burped in my face.
"Oh, Merton," I moaned.
"'Stuzz mee," he said.
G. David Schwartz - the former president of Seedhouse, the online interfaith
committee. Schwartz is the author of
A Jewish Appraisal of Dialogue. Currently a volunteer at Drake
Hospital in Cincinnati, Schwartz continues to write. His new book, Midrash
and Working Out Of The Book is now in stores or can be ordered. www.amazon.com/gp/product/1418489565/104-8454011-6722310?n=28315
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