The medium pizza had been divorced for two years, and now lived alone in a studio in Long Island City, not two blocks from the subway stop. It paid much less for the apartment than it could afford, and really, it should have been living in a nicer place. Its career was stable if not boring. It dealt with informational capital. Its raises were predictable. But after the divorce the medium pizza had been momentarily taken with a new and zesty urge to do something incredible with its disposable income instead of squandering it on expensive restaurants, hardcover books, and coffee. (The medium pizza had once calculated that it spent $2,700 a year on espresso drinks (i.e. latte, cappuccino, iced cappuccino, frappaccino, etc.) alone.) Instead, it was going to save the money, siphon it off into a savings account, and one day it was going to do something fantastic, some momentous act of generosity that would inspire others to do the same, to give away everything they had for no reason. This would cause the world to turn upside down. It was a plan that the medium pizza knew had been cooking inside of its mind for years and years—perhaps since adolescence—and the one balm for the daily pain it felt without its wife was the rebirth of concern for social justice. The level of inequality in the city was incredible. One day, it would do something generous. Not yet, of course; there wasn’t enough money to do the generous thing yet. But one day…
The medium pizza felt in its heart that fundamentally, something was wrong with its country. It knew all the old arguments about the Cold War and détente; yes, we had killed and deceived and wasted lives, but what else could we have done? Truly? And besides, was it not better for the world, after all, that the Stars and Stripes still flew and the Hammer and Sickle had gone into the ash-heap? Really? Even if it had created this, now? What other way would there have been to survive the 20th century intact? How can you win if your opponent is willing to do things that you are not? And how could they not have thought that as well?
The medium pizza sighed often; this plain and inescapable ethical paradox had moved through its mind through the 80s and 90s like a stock car ceaselessly running laps at an old rural track, and it had happened so many times that it now evoked not passion, not even anger, but rather a very mellow nausea and the consciousness of obesity.
Remembering this argument, the medium pizza did not want to look in the mirror. All of the circles reminded the medium pizza of that other circular argument about death, the one about the alpha and the omega, about a very brief bright light before destruction, and the two arguments side by side seemed at best evidence for one another. Nothing mattered, not even pepperoni.
The walk from the N platform to the door of its building was another old and repetitive thing; there was the strangely happy and friendly man at the Subway shop, who never failed to make eye contact through the window and raise his plastic-gloved hand awkwardly in salutation at the medium pizza, even if, at that very moment, he was at work on a Subway Melt. The medium pizza tried not to look when it passed.
There was the watch-repairer, who was always reading a newspaper and reclining beside his cash register. The medium pizza had once taken its niece’s Swatch watch in to have the face polished. The man studied it for a moment and said, “Yes, I can do it, but there is a certain machine I need, and I will not have access to it for three days. Come back on Thursday.” When the medium pizza inquired whether there was something about the Swatch watch in particular that demanded this special machine, the man raised his eyebrows and frowned and said, “No, I just need my grinder.” The medium pizza wanted to say, “You sit here all day with nothing to do, and when you finally get work, you’re not prepared?” But the medium pizza said nothing.
And there was Andre the tailor, a very large man with a brown mustache and a stern, offended look to him. When the medium pizza brought in a pair of corduroy pants with an inoperable zipper, Andre picked them up and held them high above his head and said, “I don’t understand these pants, and therefore I cannot help you.” The medium pizza responded by saying, “They’re semicircular, but everything is in principle the same,” but Andre would have nothing to do with the medium pizza from that day forward.
Back in its apartment, the medium pizza would sit on the couch with the television off for long periods of time. It would sit quietly as the sun went down and the moon came up. It would wait for the phone to ring. There was no specific call the medium pizza was waiting for; all it wanted was for beauty to dial its number. Beauty could be Eveline, who was married again, or Julie, its little niece, or Sophia, its dead mother, the woman who had first molded its edges. None of these calls came. Every night the medium pizza reclined further and further into its plastic-covered futon as it waited, feeling its cheese sag and its crust soften. There would be no saving it. The only chance was some kind of cataclysmic economic event—every detail thought out, every implication extrapolated, totally permanent, ineffable, brilliant. The medium pizza’s greatest dream was to see the homeless and the brain-damaged in high-ranking government positions. It wanted the country’s most dangerous schizophrenics in charge of U.S. embassies around the world. It wanted total reversal. It wanted peace. It wanted an alternate universe, one where suffering was never rewarded, where the weak were not afraid. It wanted justice, and for justice to happen, this place would have to be different.
The only question now was whether the medium pizza could, in fact, make it real.