Thursday, February 2, 2012

Parking Lot Pizza and Rock Opera Lessons

I don't know about you, but I am unable to resist a sign like this.

I'm not talking about the delightfully juxtaposed signs indicating the location of water.

Extra confusing when it is raining, as the water is also coming from above.

I'm talking about the signs beckoning all who pass into an empty parking lot with the promise of a tasty pizza.

Who can possibly resist so tempting an offer? Not me.

I parked there in that empty parking lot in downtown Colrain, Massachusetts and waited for quite some time.

My hope, of course, was that as I sat there, a swarm of olive-skinned attendants would emerge from the mysterious pyramid thingy in the background and deliver a non-stop stream of pizza to me as I sat in my car, listening to the cool, mellow sounds of Lamb of God thundering through my car's stereo.

I waited and waited, but there was no pizza.

Because, it was Wednesday and the pizza isn't available until Thursday at 5 p.m. But I wouldn't become aware of that fact for quite some time.

It could have been a long, cold night sitting there, awaiting my pizza, but even the siren song of parking lot pizza could not lure me to sleep there. I had things to do and schools to visit.

I was in Colrain for more than the mysterious pizza lot. I was there as the Artist in Residence at Colrain Central School.

So, as chagrined as I was about it, I made the difficult decision to abandon my parking lot vigil and head to the hotel so I could get a good night's sleep before embarking on my residency.  While in residence at a school,  I strut around wearing a crown and a sparkly cape, barking orders and acting all artistic. It's loads of fun, but requires a certain amount of mental alertness; alertness I would not have if I sat in a parking lot all night, eying the mystery pyramid and waiting for pizza.

I returned to my hotel and passed an idle evening using Skype to communicate with my loving family. The communication mostly consisted of watching Alex and Victoria make faces into the computer's camera, and, as diverting and entertaining as that is, it could not make me completely forget about the pizza.

I passed a troubled night, tossing and turning and dreaming vivid, garlic-scented dreams. When I arrived at the school the next day, Mrs. Looman, the principal, greeted me and welcomed me warmly.

"Yeah, yeah," I said, still clutched in the fevered grip of the mysterious pizza lot and unable to even converse politely, "What's with that pizza sign out there in the middle of town? Why was I not given pizza when I parked there?"

Mrs. Looman explained that the sign did not actually offer the promise of free pizza for any who parked there. It was indicating where one might park if one wanted to walk across the street to Mike and Tony's Pizza.

Mike and Tony's Pizza. They will not serve you in the parking lot, despite what the sign may imply.

I passed a lovely day at the school, relieved that the mystery of the Pizza Lot had been settled. After school, I drove back to Greenfield, MA, where my hotel was, in order to pass the time until I could return to Colrain when Mike & Tony's opened at 5 p.m.

I wandered around Greenfield, past the Academy of Rock, where I was barely able to resist the urge to rush in and sign up for their PhD program in Rock Awesomeness. I didn't see any classes on how to deal with unruly groupies, so I decided against enrolling.

I found a tantalizing old book store where the winding, serpentine piles of books formed teetering, precarious aisles that led into the spiraling bowels of the very earth itself. I could have spent many hours in the store and, indeed, at a few points in my visit, feared that I would spend the rest of my life there if unable to find the exit.

When I finally found my way out, a freezing spittle had started falling, making the roads slippery and treacherous, but even the unbridled fury of nature could not deter me from my return trip to Colrain.

I braved the elements, skidding and sliding around hairpin curves and perilous drops from thousand foot cliffs. My white knuckles clenched the steering wheel as I forged onward into the stormy night and toward pizza.

And the next thing I knew, I was at Tony & Mike's. It seems that only the regulars were willing to brave the mad tempest raging outside, for there were very few people there, and all of them were clustered around the bar watching the less than subtle fight underway between the teenage kid cooking the pizzas and one of the owners - Mike or Tony. I didn't buy a program so I don't know who was who.

The dinner theater was fraught with intrigue as the cook was evidently convinced that MikeorTony had lied to him about something.

Dialog such as this ensued:

MikeorTony: You want me to call him and he can tell you for himself?
Kid cooking my pizza: Yeah. I do.
MikeorTony: Fine. I will.

(Telephone call is made)

MikeorTony (into phone): Will you tell [kid making pizza] that you are [mumble, mumble, mumble]

(Hands phone to kid making pizza)

[More mumbling and angry mutterings.]

It had all the making of a brilliant Italian opera. An interesting cast of characters. Incomprehensible dialog. An eager audience. Except for the fact that nobody was singing.

My pizza finally arrived and I was delighted that it was, in fact, some of the tastiest pizza that I have ever had.

I lingered over it, casually watching the continuing drama in the restaurant as it unfolded.

Although I was disappointed not to see how the scene ended, I was eventually able to break the spell and, with my leftover pizza clutched tightly in my hands, headed back out into the storm to try to return to my hotel.

"At least I'll have something to eat if I careen off the road and go over a cliff," I thought.

The next day of my residency, although lots of fun, was somewhat anti-climactic. It did not feature death-defying rides, muttered threats of mild violence, or delicious, cheesy pizza. It was just me, visiting classes and giving an afternoon workshop to a room full of teachers who were eager to be set free so they could go to Mike & Tony's.

I'd like to know how everything worked out in the opera there. I'll have to go back and see what happened when I finally enroll in that PhD. program at the Rock College.


Luciferadi said...

The opera finale depends on who was the baritone and who was the tenor.

marty said...

I assumed it had to do with who had more cheese or something.

Along the Way said...

This whole adventure is absolutely fantastic, or maybe it's just the telling? MUCH enjoyed!