Nighttime Isn’t For Lovers

No, nighttime is for pizza boys like you:

  • making deliveries in a rattletrap hatchback that’s older than you are;
  • getting lost between two streets with the same name that jog and split like fighter jets evading Iraqi missiles;
  • putting a pizza box on its side in the back of your car, resulting in the cheese sliding down to one end of the pizza;
  • having customers refuse to pay you;
  • backing your car into a fire hydrant and having the engine stop, only to have the fender magically spring back into shape and the motor cough into life again, meaning you could actually continue to work for your tenth hour in a row;
  • cutting a pizza with strokes so uneven that your boss said he couldn’t sell it to anyone and deducted it from your paycheque even though it would taste the goddamn same, and then warned you that the owner was watching you on closed-circuit TV so you had to be careful, although you weren’t sure what he meant by careful, because you came back from one delivery around 2:30 a.m. and he was telling two hookers (or maybe just twenty-somethings going for pizza after a night on the town – you were too young to know the difference) how while you were away he had punched out some guy who was making a racket – those were his words, making a racket, throwing chairs around and shit – and the cops had come and taken the guy outside and beaten the living shit out of him, colouring the sidewalk outside the pizzeria crimson – which, by the time you arrived, had conveniently been washed away by the rain that was falling so very hard that night – then hauled him off in the squad car, his head resting against that portcullis-type metal grate and, like, obviously dripping;
  • breaking up a drug deal at your boss’s request by wiping the window outside by the participants, two sketchy looking men, one young, one old, one white, one black, and having the old black one get up and come outside and ask if he could kiss you;
  • mixing pizza dough by hand according to what the instructions said, which, sleep-deprived, you thought meant, like, actually by hand, like, dipping your hand in the cauldron and swirling it around, until the sixteen-year-old Mexican kid started laughing at you and asked you if you had a girlfriend, which you couldn’t lie about, and said, no, at eighteen you’d still had nothing but false starts, which you’d settled on as a line because it had a sense of mystery to it, like, maybe you’d had some torrid, sexual affairs that just never coalesced into a real relationship, not just that your false starts included a couple of girls that had seemed to enjoy talking to you, and then got freaked out when you showed any interest in them, and made up excuses for why they couldn’t go to a ska show with you, and when you did actually go on your one and only date of high school, to a movie starring Renée Zellweger, which you’d managed to corral Denise, recently arrived from Cayley, Alberta, into going to with you because she wanted to see it anyway and you thought it looked good, lying through your (now perfectly straight and braces-less) teeth, and you’d offered to pick her up in your shitty hatchback, but she’d said she had to run some errands first so she’d drive herself in her mom’s, like, Mercedes S-class, and so you met at the movie theatre and you sat together and when you sat back she sat forward and when you sat forward she sat back, all this while talking about school, about a certain drama teacher notorious for his attraction to a certain female student, pretty much the only topic of conversation that was universal at your school, and a topic in which you were particularly well-versed – you and your friends having produced a crew show after the end of that year’s musical’s run, a crew show in which you, yourself, had played that certain drama teacher, having stuffed a pillow under the plaid shirt you wore with the cuffs rolled up in his style, and having said Oh Andrea! many times, for Andrea was the girl’s name, the object of his affections, drawing out the A sound so it was more like Aaaaaaaaaaandrea while making vigorous pelvic thrusting motions, while simultaneously in the background, your friends, referencing Gene Wilder’s performance in The Producers, shouted Fat! Fat! Fat!, and after which, the certain drama teacher had come up behind you on the stairs and put his flabby arm around your shoulders and said, smirking, Do you want to live to see tomorrow? – this topic you discussed with Denise, and she laughed, but laughed nervously, and you watched the movie, and afterwards she said Thanks for putting up with seeing that with me, like she knew that you didn’t give a shit about Renée Zellweger’s plump but good-hearted character, wanted only to spend time with her, with Denise, to stroke her always too-red cheeks, to share the enormous pressure of wanting to love, and love selflessly, another person, but when you asked if she wanted to go to a certain Seattle-based coffee shop chain, having heard from her friend Tania, who had a nose like the keel of a ship, that Denise absolutely loved that particular chain’s dairy-based drinks, she had said, no, she had to do errands after as well, and that was that, and then afterwards just stopped talking to you, like, she would go out of her way to avoid you, and her friend Samantha, the one whose black nail polish spiralled down the drain like dark matter into a black hole, had at some point actually said to her (you heard second-hand) that she was ripping your heart right out and stomping on it by ignoring you, and Denise had just changed the subject, in the way your grandmother always did whenever someone brought up a Topic Nice People Didn’t Discuss, like The Way Your Uncle Was Managing Your Departed Grandfather’s Property On Robson Street And Whether It Was Or Wasn’t A Tax Dodge, and then on grad night Denise had given another guy blisters, you heard, a perma-stoned jerkoff from Michigan who happened to have almost the same name as you – not that you wanted blisters, but there was something kind of sweet about the type of earnestness that would result in failing to alter one’s technique despite visibly reddening skin – and then you hadn’t seen her since, high school having been over for a month by the time you got the job at the pizza parlor and your having no reason whatsoever to be anywhere near her person, though you had driven past her house once, being curious about how she lived, her mother owning an S-class she allowed her seventeen-year-old daughter to drive, and then immediately felt guilty, so goddamn guilty, because despite your bottomless self-pity you had never done anything in your life that you truly regretted, and so you had an excess of guilt to go along with your excess of love, straining at the floodgates of your body;
  • not telling the Mexican boy any of this but feeling, deep down, that somehow he could tell that your experience with romance was limited to going to one movie, that the only time a girl had ever touched your junk was when in grade four you were doing, like, sprints in gym class and you ran right into Morgan, who, somehow, in grabbing for purchase to prevent a faceplant, had grabbed a handful of your sweatpants that included your (obviously tiny, nine-year-old) penis;
  • listening to the Mexican boy laugh, laugh at you in your XL powder-blue pizza man shirt, laugh because at sixteen he was a better person than you would ever be, as he was talented at sports and making out with girls at parties.

But nighttime isn’t for lovers. Nighttime is for pizza boys, and now, you and Pablo have a job to do.

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Jeremy Hanson-Finger attended Carleton University, where he co-founded the literary erotica journal The Moose & Pussy and wrote his MA thesis on dirty bits in postmodern American novels. He now lives in Toronto, where he is the co-editor of Dragnet Mag (dragnetmag.net). He is currently working on a collection of short stories entitled Airplanes and Bad Things Happening to Women. Let it be known, however, that he likes women and doesn’t want bad things to happen to them.