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The International Writers Magazine: Pizza with aliens to go

Merton's Pizza
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,    

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.  

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 immediately. 
"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 meat."    
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 meat."              

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.
© DavidSchwartz
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.

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