Two Fine Men at a Pizzeria


On a rainy afternoon two friend decided to weather the storm to meet at a pizzeria that served international beers.

It was a cozy area lodged under a stocky apartment complex, and it stood behind the spiraling staircase. The cement facade was painted blue, and the windows had a golden-yellow trim around them to match the sign on the window, Pizze. Inside the owner did an excellent job in rendering the Italian experience. All the furniture was wooden, the walls had an orange glow, much of the room was lit by candles except for the modern kitchen, which was lit under the disgusting French fluorescent lights. But trying his best to maintain the ambiance, they installed a brick furnace and a giant peel to cook the pizza on, always explaining to the inquisitive patron whether or not the furnace and the peel made a difference in how the pizza tasted, and surely they did, he would say, it gave the pizza that mature flavor, similar to how a touch of rum influenced chocolate cake or the sound of vinyl in a song lent it more texture. A little vintage created distance between reality and fantasy. Who would’ve known a chef-slash-entrepreneur could have some density when it came to philosophical matters. But the two fine men that were mentioned earlier, who were almost forgotten in our story, weren’t here for romance of the place but needed to be reminded they couldn’t just raise their voices when someone disagreed, and that they were part of a greater schema, participating in light conversation as well. Also, there was no place to gossip like a dimly lit area such as an authentic pizzeria.

Gossip was the embryo to all great ideas regarding the human tradition. Playwrights, novelists, and poets all had drew their stories from their friends at one point or another. For example, novelist Franklin Diaz was part of broken home in Boston, Massachusetts before he had moved to Amsterdam, Netherlands, with his partner, and he told him that his life could be the next Dostoyevskian masterpiece because he had a sister locked in an asylum because of her addiction to Oxycontin, a negligent father, and a lack of trust in her life. Drama is my life, he said, it really is. To which his partner had to encourage him to write or else the unwritten-masterpiece would manifest into a contentious argument. But the two fine men that we continue to forget were neither a novelist or a playwright. The young Slavic-Japanese man, Adam Yagi, was a literary scholar who was worked at Ryukyu University on international work-visa, and the Creoles American, Thomas Lenin, was a former nurse who had an affinity for whiskey. In their youth they argued a lot less than before. They didn’t have their college degrees to make the words in their mouths have any weight in the world. As adolescents, words were what they were, carbon-oxygen molecules in a gaseous state, as Lenin liked to think about their conversation. Well, he believed his words were more valuable than Yagi’s because Yagi had this terrible tendency to recite classical poetry as if it were a form of evidence, beautiful as some of it might sound.

Already Lenin could see where Yagi was going with his logic soon as he told him that their mutual friend Robert Faber was in the middle of a fourth marriage. Faber told both of them that he had never felt a love like this before. The feeling was reminiscent of middle school crush. Just the sight of her made him paralyzed, fired all kinds of neurons inside his head, and made him carefully select the right words amidst her presence. Yes, it made him feel alive, said Lenin, but it’s a stupid decision to think that this one could be the one, it’s like he never once reflected on his past marriages and thought he could just be addicted to the whole affair, look, Yagi, before we know it he already forfeited his power of attorney. Well, responded Yagi, as the saying goes, love is like a child, that longs for everything that comes by. Yes, I’m glad that you agree with me but he really needs to evaluate the value of this person, at least, he should give this woman two years before allowing her to live in home, I’m so surprised, with all his divorces, you’d think he would only have the clothes on his back and the drawers in his pants like the horrible cases that tend to happen in the media. He’s in love, that’s all. That’s very asinine because he is conscious all the time, he reads the newspaper everyday, watches Zizek discussions on the internet, and recently he has been constantly bombarding me with colonial propaganda, saying that life had to unfold the way it did or else we wouldn’t have modern technology, and I said to him, did Hitler teach me how install my router. But we must admit that he’s in love, Yagi retorted, and a man’s love is fulfilling although made of spiderwebs. Yes, he’s merely infatuated with a younger woman, could I even call her a woman, do you know her age. No, I don’t. I haven’t even seen her yet but I could already feel the repercussions of not seeing an old friend for another fifteen years. It’s tragic really, Yagi agreed. My solution, said Lenin, is that he should just go to a soap-house, express his orgasim, and leave women alone for the rest of his life, that’ll do it for him until the day he dies, he could still give inheritance to the right charity or allocate the money evenly amongst his children, like a good father, instead of another woman who would just use for her own gain. It’s good that his children are bright self-reliant kids, Yagi said, yet I think he should pursue the story to the end, so he won’t have any regrets in the future. What future, the man is already fifty years old. If he’s fifty years old, then why should we worry how he spends the rest of his life. I’m his friend as well, I enjoy his company, and I would like him to use the time wisely. Both of the fine men shook their head. Their blue-cheese pizza had came, and they ate them quickly so they could enjoy the Belgium beers served in glass steins.

After a beat Yagi continued the conversation. The whole affair reminds me of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, a boy will do whatever he needs to do to see his lover, Tut, I have lost myself; I am not here; This is not Romeo, he’s some other where. But that’s Romeo and Juliet, Lenin replied, it’s fiction. What do you mean. It’s illusory, plainly as that, you can’t use literature as a form of evidence, some people will recite articles, others will recite case studies, and some will memorize historical documents, but never should you use literature in debates. Yagi didn’t seem to get his point again. It is fiction the same way criminals use lies in their hearings, Lenin continued. Does my entire career serve no purpose for the community, Yagi retorted, I would rather entrust my life in literature than the psychologists do with their case studies, the lobbyists with their historical documents, and regular people with their lives. But you still don’t have any grounds to make an argument with literature. If you look at life through a psychologist, lobbyist, and person, measure them by how confident they are in their evidence, you’ll find that most of them wouldn’t find any comfort in it, let’s take a look at a psychologist’s vocation, for example, what used to be a philosophical analysis of the human mind now has transformed into statistics, and if you examine the case studies one by one, what makes you believe their subjects were honorable, relative, or truthful, people respond under different conditions, a man who’s being interviewed by a researcher in front of his wife will respond differently when she’s there compared to when she’s not, or the researcher himself might influence the conditions as well, there’s some private information you could share with a partner but can’t share with a stranger. I see your meaning. If you examine a lobbyist’s historical documents, how could you say that these documents have any psychological influence on him, especially if has never participated in some of the monumental events, we could use Marcus Antonius and Cleopatra VII Philopator to invoke the spirit of love, but I wonder if we should use it as evidence for true love, because their love birthed out of a political contract, similar to Bill and Hillary Clinton’s, yet when the scrivener puts it into words, doesn’t the words become the scrivener’s and not the characters,’ the fact that they were person made of flesh, blood and water on this earth doesn’t prove that their existence was more meaningful than the lives contrived from an artist’s mind. But we’re not trying to prove meaning but empiricism. Yet does your confidence come from the physical object or from the interpretation of that object, Yagi said, but before I answer the question, please let me address last my ground that is under inspection, the people’s lives, although you might think autobiographies can be stained with avariciousness, greed and contrivance, that it could be embedded with a narrow prejudice, perhaps in the process in trying to explain your life to others could be the most valuable contribution to the world, because if you explained something the best you can, whether true or false, stained or not, subjective or objective, it will be the critics to determine the veracity of it, the more that you confess, the better the world could decide whether matters were true or false, justified or unethical. But then that’s just you, Yagi, and no one will dispute who you are or what you feel. They might not convince me but they can convince others, and that interpretation wouldn’t be wrong, assuming we followed the Socratic evaluation of a valid and invalid argument, assuming we understood premise one, premise two and the conclusion. So it seems to me you’re guarding subjectivity, said Lenin. Yes, I am, and it saddens me that it is being rejected because it has no utility in the world despite that all decisions come from within, the motivation to murder someone doesn’t derive from all the objectivity which surround him but from the interpretation of those things, just think that murder isn’t absolutely evil because there are conditions of self-defense or inadvertence. Lenin wanted clarification, all I wanted to prove was that literature couldn’t be used to explain the world because it was contrived by a single person’s mind. To which Yagi conceded, it could to explain behavior the same way a simile or metaphor can explain behavior, just highlight a certain aspect of a situation. That I could agree with, said Lenin.

The fine men retreated back into their homeostasis, Yagi staring at the fire in the brick furnace, Lenin feeling the condensation roll off the bottle. Both men were nevertheless feeling the melancholy of losing another dear friend to a shallow marriage. Through the giant speakers that stood over their heads, there was the sound of cymbals gently playing under the bass riff of the cello. The rain was still aggressive outside, so it wasn’t a good time to leave yet.

John Tang
John Tang writes essays and fiction, and creates RPGs. He's also the production manager for Brev Spread. You can reach him at Queries@brevspread.com
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *