Saturday, July 17, 2010

Poignant Pepperoni

It's been hotter than Satan's mistress these last three days, and from all my extra TV time, it seems this is a trend across the country. I've had my three window AC units working overtime to compensate for my bun-in-the-oven hot flashes and have managed to stay busy making sure the couch stays put. My life hasn't been completely wasteful, in fact, I walked a WHOLE 5K for the third day in a row this morning. OH! Thanks for the advice on exercise during pregnancy, I will defiantly keep it simple. (And I sincerely hope my tiny baby is doing tae bo in there with me--really Sonia, I do--Oh and Ashley S. I WAS talking about you in Chick Filet, you are nice to me)

My girlie and I played "Catch me if you can" with the garden hose on Thursday--a terrible muddy mess but great fun. It was approaching dinner and I had no intention of digging through my kitchen mess to make anything, and I would NOT turn on the oven. So I did what any sensible lazy person would do: I ordered a carryout pepperoni pizza. I squelched the tiny guilt inside and loaded little girlie in the car to fetch my easy, greasy sustenance.

I don't know if you've noticed, but Dominos Pizza has changed their recipe, and unfortunately for me, it is REALLY good, really convenient, and REALLY inexpensive. They are all trying to kill me! When we arrived outside the red, white, and blue emblem, I hoisted Ally out of her car seat into the 102+ weather to walk to the double glass doors of my latest Sin Factory. I handed over my magic plastic and received my prize--a piping hot pepperoni pizza. As I walked outside with a firm grip on my dinner and on my toddler's hand, I noticed that the clouds were thickening and turning gray--it was a definite change from the beating sun a few minutes earlier, but I welcomed the possibility of rain.

With everything in order, I headed down the road toward home. It's a busy street with three-to-four lanes each way and a speed limit of 45. Out the right-hand window I saw the familiar orange trees with over-ripe fruit that someone did not bother picking--I guess they decided it would be cheaper to let the orbs fall to the ground rather than pay wages to have them harvested. On the left were other looming monuments to the current economic decline: rows of stucco shopping malls left to the elements--most empty but some with abandoned paint buckets and stirring sticks: the dust of someone's dreams.

About 100 yards beyond the orange grove, a young family caught my eye. I counted five children, the youngest in a stroller, probably 9 months old. The tallest child looked to be no more than 8 or 9. The couple looked hot and worried but determined to continue to wherever it was they were going. Despite the new cloud cover, I knew the heat outside my air-conditioned car was nearly unbearable. "Flip around and give them your pizza," I heard myself say. There was no oncoming traffic for at least a quarter mile and if I was going to make a U-turn, now would be my chance. With about 1.5 seconds to question my instincts, I flipped across the road, turned on my hazards, and walked toward the family.

"What are you thinking, this is the stupidest thing you've ever done, they are probably fine and just headed to the next bus stop, they're gonna think you're racist, naive, or rude for offering them food," I warned myself. But that little nudging in my heart could not be ignored no matter how silly I felt. I addressed the father and asked, "Do you guys have any plans for dinner tonight?" He glared at me a little. "Why do you ask that?" He said, with a commanding air of concern and protection. SEE, YOU'RE STUPID, THEY DON'T NEED ANYTHING, I said to myself. "Oh, I don't know," I stammered, "I just picked up a hot...uh...large, pepperoni pizza from the corner, and I was wondering if, um you might want it," I said almost shaking.

His shoulders dropped, and he wiped his head as if relieved, and his wife put her hand on her chest, looked to the sky and whispered something inaudible. "I'm sorry I came off like that at first," he said in a new, friendly tone, "See, people have been shouting at us from their cars all along this street for us to get the H*&% outta here, and when you turned around so fast, we weren't sure if you were just another angry person, or what you were doing." I took a deep breath and said, "I am so sorry I startled you. I know it must seem very strange for me to pull up here and offer you a pizza, but I saw you and your children and something told me I needed to stop." The wife whispered again to the sky.

"I really appreciate that," he said, a little unnerved. "Hey, uh, I'm Riki, and this is my wife Tanishia," he said offering his hand. "I'm Christina, it's nice to meet you," I said taking each of their hands in turn. The oldest daughter's eyes perked "OH! And my name is Christie, kinda like YOU!" I chuckled, "That's a great name!!" I turned again to the parents and said, "Would you like the pizza? It is pepperoni," I repeated stupidly, "I just got it a minute ago, I haven't touched it, I promise." Ricki nodded his head, "Yeah, that's really nice of you, you know it's funny you stopped cause we're really having a hard time, and just yesterday I had to sell most of my things." I nodded, "I know, things are really tough."

Meanwhile, my daughter began to sob in the car as if sensing their plight. "I'll be right there baby," I said. "Here you go," I handed the pizza to Christie who had the sweetest smile, and the parents thanked me again. "Well, enjoy, and you guys will be in my prayers," I said. Rickie nodded and replied, "Yeah, I really appreciate that."

I stepped back into the car, my eyes welling toward my cheeks. After I turned on the car my daughter said in sobs, "That was my pizza, I wanted that pizza for me!" In a broken voice I responded, "Sweetie, those children didn't have any pizza for dinner, it was so nice of you to share with them." She wiped her tears and seemed to understand. I drove home with a heavy heart and looked up to that familiar place in the sky feeling an overwhelming sense of gratitude. I laughed through the swollen lump in my throat thinking how humorously God chose to deliver me from temptation. It's my new diet. I call it the Friendly Fast Food Diet, and I highly recommend it.


  1. You are an excellent writer. I loved even more that you listened to that prompting!

  2. Best story ever. You got me all teary. So many times I "reason" my way out of things like this and end up regretting it. You are awesome!! Happy 240 days til your due date-WOHOOOOO!!

  3. You just put a lump in my throat. You need to reach more people! Like writing for a magazine or something. I just love you!

  4. That is an inspiring diet! Good work on your 5K's

  5. great story bina.

    in most parts of the world there is nothing wrong or strange about offering someone food. i bet that family really appreciated it. you are nice.

    it did make me hungry for dominos pizza, it's been about 1 1/2 yrs since i've had it. wait, it's sunday DOH!

  6. What a great thing to do Bina! It does take guts to get out of your comfort zone. It feels great to help someone else :-) Keep up the good work!

  7. Awesome story Christina! This really touched me and I had to hold back the tears while I retold it to me husband (I told you EVERYTHING makes me cry these days). I wish I had your bravery!
    And Congrats on the little one!