‘Hold the Anchovies’ excerpt
‘The usual for Cynthia,’ Suzy, the phone girl, shouted across the bustle of the pizza shop.
The usual. Now what would that be? I slapped out the dough and tried NOT to think about Cynthia’s usual. Now 13 Brown St’s usual was a triple pepperoni with double sauce and double cheese. 25 Sullivan St was a Supreme with half olives. Big Barry’s was a beef, olives and anchovies! Uggh! The only thing I knew for certain about Cynthia’s usual was to Hold the Anchovies!
I threw the pizza down on the tray and poured on the sauce, making circular motions from the middle with the ladle, spreading the red mixture evenly, leaving a symmetrical edge all the way around. My hand hovered over the cheese. What would Cynthia say if I left the cheese off? There were other weirdoes out there who ordered pizza with no cheese. But where was the fun in that? I grabbed a handful of mozzarella and spread it over the pizza.
I decided to let my subconscious make the pizza and closed my eyes as I placed my hand over the row of ingredients. Pepperoni — yes. I opened my eyes between ingredients to make sure I was hitting the pizza base — but arranged the ingredients haphazardly — making sure the pattern had some distinction. I didn’t want to hear her say my life in the upcoming months was going to be boring and routine. Capsicum – the green strands making criss-cross patterns across the discs of pepperoni. Onion. Spicy pork and pineapple. Another handful of cheese and Alex stuck her in the oven, smiling at me.
‘I wonder what Madame Cynthia will say about this fine creation.’
I smiled back, melting like the mozarella.
‘You know, you just made the Alex special?’ He nodded back at the oven. And winked.
‘I laughed. Well, I made it with my eyes closed so it wasn’t intentional.’
‘Shame that. I thought you were trying to tell me something.’
Was he flirting? He turned back to the oven to retrieve the pizzas that were ready to be delivered. Slid the spatula in one quick motion, piled it into the box, and cut the pizza into quarters, and then eighths perfectly, avoiding any accusation of diet slices. I watched his tanned arms and his perfect butt. Boy, was he cute!
There was no time to stop and think about Alex. It was driving time. Delivery time. That was the time to think. To mull over how he’d been behaving in the last few weeks. It was Friday night and it was frantic. Five orders were waiting my attention before I took out Cynthia’s pizza to her for my regular pizza reading.
I concentrated on the pizzas, trying to get Alez’s sexy smile out of my mind. It was crucial to get the orders right, to hope the phone girls had written down the correct codes — ‘p’ was for pepperoni, not for pineapple. And it was easy for the new ones to get it wrong, with the pressure of the constantly ringing phones. But by the time the pizza reached its destination, and the person discovered that pineapple had replaced pepperoni, the driver would be halfway back to the store, and the irate customer would be on the phone demanding a replacement. Another pizza would be made and despatched to the customer.
For the last three months, I had no social life. Drongo’s Pizza was my social life. Uni by day, pizza deliverer at night. Almost every night. And invariably Friday and Saturday night – the traditional pizza nights of the week. But I couldn’t complain. I was earning good money. And spending it! And it was like coming to a party every weekend. I was working with a bunch of good looking blokes and gals. And they were all flirtatious and friendly. Because this was our Friday and Saturday night — stuck in a pizza place making pizzas –- this was our social life –- we flirted with each other, we turned every night into a party atmosphere. Coming to work was fun. The air was laden with sexual innuendo as we sized each other up. And even the customers were interesting.
Copyright 2008 Diane Curran