Last night, I had my worst pizza dream ever.
It's not news to anyone who knows me that I worked at Little Caesars pizza for a long, long, long
time...9.5 years or thereabout...which is admittedly a shocking number.
I can still recite all the pizza topping requirements. I could still
probably walk in to a location and do the job faster than anyone else in
the store. I in fact still regularly dream of the place. These dreams
now only happen every so often nowadays, but even just a couple years
ago, I would have a Little Caesars dream about every month.
these dreams inevitably involve me coming in and rescuing a
down-on-its-luck location...not unlike my real role in the company,
where I was a bit of a traveling enforcer, sent from location to
location to whip stores into shape. In these dreams, though, I am the
pizza equivalent of superman. I do the work of ten people. I fire,
hire, train, all in a heartbeat. I inspire everyone to work at 100%
efficiency. Stores that were unrepentant hellholes just moments before
my arrival become the epitome of pizza perfection within mere minutes.
night, I had another Little Caesar dream...but it was horribly wrong. I
came into a very busy store. Because of my vast experience, I was hired
directly into the management level. When I started my shift, however, I
noticed all kinds of products that didn't exist during my previous
tenure. There were these weird puffy pizza/sandwich-like things, for a
start. But no one told me how to make any of them.
they asked me to work ovens. It was okay at first, but more weird
products started coming out of the oven. 2" round pizzas. Baked
salads. Weird pudding-like baby foods. As I have no idea such products
even existed, I similarly have no idea what to do with them. The guy
who's working ovens with me didn't really try to help me out...he just
keeps saying "stack the things." So whatever I can't figure out how to
package--which is quickly becoming everything--just gets thrown on the
My "helper" on ovens, though, just isn't that good. Turns out,
he can barely keep up with the flow with a competent helper who actually
knows the job. With me, we just get further and further in the weeds.
Plus the oven, somehow, gets more and more full. Soon, there's no room
to even put the pizzas on the table. I start stacking food on the
floor. Stuff comes out of the oven faster than I can grab it. Pretty
soon, food is falling out, piling on the floor, flinging against the
walls, splattering on my legs. I howl in pain from the sauce burns.
Then I wake up and think of the Coen brothers.
It's also no surprise to anyone who knows me that I love The Big Lebowski.
This goes back to its release, when the ads were so weird, I had to see
the film. I dragged my dad to see it with me, which was hard, because
he kept asking what it was about and I couldn't tell him anything. By
the time we left the theater, both our sides were hurting from laughing
so hard. My first year up in Ohio, me and a friend of mine tried to
watch it many different weekends. Somehow, we always ended up at the
bowling alley instead. We did, however, keep quoting the movie
throughout our personal bowling/drinking binge.
the real gems of the film (there are many) is Steve Buschemi's character
Donnie. Donnie doesn't do all that much in the film other than bowl
and be silly comic relief. And when he bowls, Donnie is, as he says
himself, "on fire." Strike after strike after strike. Right up,
however, until he throws a split. Immediately thereafter, the main
characters get into a fight with a band of roving nihilist
musicians...and then Donnie has a heart attack...and then dies.
Everything is going well...right up until the point it isn't.
This is what I thought upon waking from my pizza dream.
it's been a rough week for me. I've come to the uncomfortable
realization that my life has reached a kind of sad milestone in that I
don't really have any close friends. Oh, sure, there are a lot of
people who would gladly hang out with me. The only problem? They seem
to live everywhere except where I am...literally scattered everywhere
from Romania to California, Florida to Wisconsin, all points in between.
There are more people in Kansas City who want to hang out with me on a
weekly basis than there are here in Bowling Green.
I have some friends. There are people with whom I spend time. But if
I'm to be honest, I'm the guy you call when you want to go to the
Farmers Market...or if you want to watch a wrestling pay per view...or
something like that. I'm more used to hearing about what people I know
did on a weekend than actually being invited along. And this all hit me
hard this week.
Honestly, while the antidepressants are
helping me remain somewhat even, the main things promoting any form of
stability are my wonderful family and my awesome band. But I'm still
more fragile than I'd like to admit. Part of my issue this week is my
band practice got cancelled, so I was sans my normal cathartic noise
So maybe my funk is just temporary. Maybe I'm
exaggerating my lack of close friends in the area. Maybe I'm seeing
social isolation where none really exists. Maybe my friends in the area
are just themselves overcome by events. Maybe this weekend, everything
will turn out just fine.
But then I think of the horrible
pizza dream when the rest of them have been triumphant. Then I think
of Donnie's one spare after a film full of strikes. I think of the
consequences for him.
I can't help but wonder.