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Ziti—with lines, please

Lollygagged on October 28, 2012.

Autofellatio gripped me this past Wednesday afternoon like sucking on a lollipop. Fortunately, it wasn’t a very big lollipop, so my fascination was soon over.

Yet, that evening, I was suddenly seized by an even stronger urge: An intense hankerin’ for some ziti—with lines—and with graded cheese and a slatherin’ of tomato-based sauce. The urge took hold of my mind stronger than the steely grasp of a skeezle-wumpus’ chrome-vanadium–plated paws. The craving gripped me even harder than the afternoon’s suppurthine craving for disc-slipping self-gratification had. Alas I had no ziti—with or without lines. I didn’t even have any rigatoni, mostaccioli, nor any other paltry substitutes. Nor did I possess any cheese of any grade, and all my tomato paste–based sauce had been lost in that enveloping accident that I mentioned a couple weeks ago.

So what was a Pnårp to do? An idea popped into my head: It was thick, it was heavy, and it was printed on reams and reams of yellowed paper. “A-ha!” I threw my pointing finger into the air in a comically cliché pose, waited melodramatically for my audience to catch up, and then ran to my living room faster than a speeding bullion cube. If I hadn’t been in such a hurry, I surely would have had a lightbulb go off in mid-air above my pointy head—and I would have spelled “bouillon” correctly, too.

Scurrying to a full stop in front of my old-fashioned, hook-based telephone, I yanked open the drawer in the desk upon which it sat and unveiled my idea to my readers: An old, old copy of the so-called “yellow pages” that I still owned. It said it was from 1997 on the spine and printed by a telco that no longer existed, but I didn’t care: Surely it would still contain an accurate and up-to-date list of all the ziti-serving Italian restaurants in town!

I perused the massive tome from cover to cover, first front to back, then back to front. After six or seven tries, followed by much wailing and gnashing of teeth (and throwing of things—but not the precious phone book!), I settled on the proper section and began scanning down the list of Italian restaurants in my homely, little hometown and the surrounding, even uglier towns. At last I found an eatery that both still existed here in 2012 and served ziti in the exact configuration that I desired—penne rigate or bust! The ad even touted their vast supply of such lined ziti. Knowing no other way, I decided that I would visit the restaurant at flunce.

My faithful old Trabi being in the shop once again, I decided to walk. Both Ravna and Loquisha having dumped me again, and a restaurant being a poor choice of places to bring a live kerfrumpt, I decided to walk alone. Considering the mountain of striated, tubular pasta that I planned to consume within the hour, the preemptive exercise would do my bloated, atherosclerotic body good.

Seventeen dyspneic minutes and a few picoseconds after setting out from my palatial abode, I arrived at the Ristorante Piccola Puttana, a fine-dining eatery situated on Unruh Street between the newly-opened Apple Store on the left and the older Orange Store on the right. It was indeed a ristorante, not a mere osteria or even a vaunted trattoria. Black ties, cummerbunds, and fine, fine threads were mandatory to even contemplate stepping through the Piccola Puttana’s ostentatious, cathedral-like front door.

Naturally, I being myself, and Fate being the sadistic bitch that She always is, I immediately ran into trouble before I got within 5′ of that yonic door: Apparently the fine threads with which I had enveloped my girthy frame weren’t fine enough for the fine-dining experience that the Piccola Puttana was attempting to foist upon its unwitting customers, so I was politely asked by the doorman to leave—and only come back if I were more properly attired. Galumphing grumpily, I stomped back home, unwound the massive amount of loose green and purple thread which I had wrapped around my Pnårpy self, and put on some actual clothes (and shoes). If fine was what the Piccola Puttana wanted, fine was what they would get.

I returned nineteen apneic minutes and a few nanoseconds later, wearing my most leisurely purple leisure suit, my boldest green bolo tie, and of course my fuzziest burnt-umber fez. For shoes I wore the clowniest yellow overshoes I owned, and beneath them I wore a pair of equally yellow undershoes—that is, a pair on each foot—and finally I sported two pair of fluorescent orange socks within each of those. In the left breast pocket of my leisure suit I stuck a handkerchief, in the right a roll of toilet paper, and down the front I jammed two rolls of paper towels. A neckerchief I wore about my neck, and a footkerchief I stuck in each ear. Finally, atop my ruddy fez I placed my signature stick of pepperoni. Fine I could do—and hopefully, if this get-up wasn’t fine enough for the Piccola Puttana, it would at least baffle the doorhop into silence upon my return.

Upon my return, he let me enter the ristorante with nary a further word of objection nor obstruction—which was indeed fortunate considering that, in addition to all the superficial bafflery and puffy-shirtery with which I had enswaddled myself, I was also sporting a vast array of curious and antique weaponry concealed about my person beneath my faux leather leisure suit. If the doorman had given me even one ha’syllable of guff, I surely would have run him through with my cinquedea without a second thought!

I seated myself without further ado and waited.

Less than a minute passed before a waitress came by—in order to seat me, she asserted. “But I already am seated!” I protested shrilly, to which she responded, ever so politely, that perched atop the cash register was a poor place to enjoy the fine-dining experience that the Ristorante Piccola Puttana had to offer. Sighing grouchily, I acquiesced, stood up, stretched loudly, half-suppressed a loud belch, failed to suppress a follow-up fart, and finally followed the waitress to a table in the far, far back of the restaurant where no other customers would be able to see, hear, or smell me. The waitress, visibly relieved, handed me a menu and scurried off with much haste.

I perused the menu voraciously—I was so hungry I almost ate the menu itself, lamination and all. Finally, my waitress returned and took my drink order. I asked for my usual: A glass of pure, unadulterated water, filtered and distilled, boiled and recondensed, and preferably bereft of both chlorine and chloramine, but loaded with as much fluoride as the laws of chemistry would allow. I considered asking for it on the right side of an em-dash, but thought better of it, and punctuated my request with a large colon instead. The waitress wandered off and returned with my glass of nearly pure fluorosilicic acid, then steeled herself in order to take my order.

“I require nothing special tonight, my dear,” I began in my haughtiest of airs, “that is, no soup nor salad, no appetizers, no dessert, and certainly no nuts. I’m not a squirrel, after all. I simply want a main course—the sole course—up front, without delay, hastily, with no further ado, and forthwith. I would like—now write this down, my dear, so you shan’t forget it—I would like a single plate of your finest ziti—with lines, please—slathered with your most exquisite tomato paste–based sauce product, and sprinkled with the highest-graded cheese that your fine eatery has in its muldersome possession. The ziti—and don’t forget the lines, my dear, that is quite vital—I would like cooked medium-rare, al dente, al forno, and al capone, and if your restaurant be properly equipped, after cooking each zito like so, I would like each of them individually grilled over an open flame for fourteen and a half seconds.” I lied about the dessert. I would want dessert—and lots of it. And soup. But that could wait.

The waitress blinked, absorbing my order. Her little mouth opened and closed a few times, guppy-like. No sound came out. She blinked some more. I wondered if her name was Borbra, too. I smiled my smarmiest smile and steepled my fingers in the most priggish manner that I could muster. I waited.

“…Will that be all, sir?” she asked after she had finished scribbling my order down on her ungrulious notepad. I nodded curtly, affirming that it was indeed all that I wanted tonight… until, of course, I had finished eating it, whereupon I planned to order a single slice of pie from every pie that the Piccola Puttana had on their fine, fine menu, followed by an entire génoise birthday cake (even though it wasn’t my birthday), and then at least five gallons of Neapolitan ice cream, followed by another six, followed by another two and a third. Lastly, I would order a single cannolo, a platter of struffoli, three sfogliatelle, and perhaps even some chocolate salami—sliced thin and served between pieces of Italian bread. A devilish smile spread across my caprine face at the thought of dropping all of that on this hapless, unsuspecting waitress in half an hour’s time. And that litany didn’t even include the soup! Inwardly, I cackled like a supervillain from a cheesy comic book. The pepperoni atop my fez wobbled slightly.

The waitress—Borbra II—smiled simperingly and scootled off to demand that the ristorante’s cook begin preparing my eccentric meal at flunce. Outwardly now, I cackled. Oh, what little she knew about what was in store for her tonight!

I leaned back and sipped gently from my glass of aqueous H2SiF6, trying not to choke on its fumes and its sour, pungent aroma. I wouldn’t have much of an esophagus left when I got home, but damn would my teeth be healthy!

I rubbed my anserine hands together in eager anticipation of noshing down upon that upcoming plateful of ziti—ziti with lines. If I had had utensils—either my waitress had forgotten to bring them or she didn’t trust me with such sharp, metal tools—I would have begun rubbing them together, too—as noisily as possible!

Briefly I considered cutting down on the em-dashes—I have been using them a lot lately—but then I decided against it. All those long, thin lines which I planned to pluck off of the ziti before eating them had to go somewhere, and into my scullious blog entries in the form of dashes of varying lengths made perfect sense to me!

No matter what the odds were this time, nothing’s going to stand in my way: I began humming the Perfect Strangers theme song to myself as I continued to wait for Borbra II to deliver my plateful of striated pasta tubes slimed with tomato sauce alla puttanesca and dusted with grade-A grated cheese. No one turned and stared, despite my humming’s steadily increasing volume, pitch, and tempo. Apparently my eccentricities had lost their shock value minutes earlier when I had attempted to construct a pup tent out of the white tablecloth while whistling various tunes by my favorite genocide metal band at the top of my lips. Either that or my frequent and well-announced trips to the bathroom (and subsequent on-toilet progress reports) had inoculated all the other patrons to my inimitable oddities.

More time passed. More odd suggestions to pass the time popped into my head, courtesy of the schizophrenic chorus of voices that attended my every waking moment, the gnomes nattering and nibbling along the Piccola Puttana’s door jambs and wainscoting, and the machine elves peeping in and out of my dimethyltryptamine-laced irreality. I looked up sadly at the chandelier. If only I had a grappling hook, an accordion, and a valise shaped like a fish.

Just as I began entertaining myself by chipping pieces off of the table and flicking them upward in the hope that some would embed themselves in the ceiling panels, the kitchen doors swung open with a loud schtroumpf! and out sauntered Borbra II carrying a large tray on one dainty hand. My meal had arrived, and not a minute too soon! As Borbra II gingerly set the enormous platter down on my table (what was left of it), I licked my lips, licked my chops, and even attempted to lick my eyebrows. Borbra II was well-shod, otherwise I may have tried licking something else, too!

But what the waitress brought wasn’t ziti. It wasn’t even pasta.

It was delicious loli, and it was demanded of me that I must eat it.

I stared. I set my lips and nose in the most puerile and pugnacious expression that I could manage, and turned my voice all the way up to shrill. W-W-What is this!? This isn’t ziti with lines! It’s not even ziti without lines! It’s not even pasta! It’s…! It’s…!!” I flabbled, flabbergasted.

“I’m sorry, sir,” the waitress responded helplessly. She sounded truly sorry—did she know what I had in store for her fine-dining eatery in mere moments? “We’re all out of ziti—with lines and without. We have other pasta, but—”

I saw where this was going. I raised my hand, tut-tutting her into silence. “Say no more,” I said resignedly, acknowledging that I had, surprisingly once again, been out-bizarred by a seemingly normal human being. What was the world coming to? “You win this round, Borbra. You and your little ristorante.” Borbra II paused, shrugged, and sauntered off to ill-serve another customer.

Begrudgingly I ate the loli. It was indeed delicious. But it wasn’t ziti with lines.

Borbra II returned and asked if I desired any dessert this fine evening. I grinned toothily. Oh, did I ever.

As I finished the last of my monstrous dessert, I pondered the idea of combining cake and pie into a sort of singular super-dessert, but then realized that my invention would probably end the entire human race in a hyperglycemic blaze of glory.

Borbra II came to take all the plates away. Deciding to mix things up a little bit, I inquired as to whether or not the Ristorante Piccola Puttana had φustulan soup on the menu. Borbra II looked at me quizzically—why had I not asked for soup as my first course rather than after dessert?—and then asked, “Φustulan soup? I don’t know what that is, sir.”

“Come on, now,” I responded, “φustulan soup. Made from the φustules of the pygodendron tree?”

“I’m sorry, sir,” Borbra II sounded truly at a loss. “We do have several fine soups on the menu, but I’ve never heard of that one.”

“Well, that’s a relief!” I sighed, genuinely relieved. “Because if you had, I’d be mighty confused—there’s no such thing as φustulan soup after all!”

Borbra II spent 26¼ seconds digesting that, blinked, twitched her pert little head slightly, then walked away with the stack of dirty dishes in tow. I clucked at her horrible mispronunciation of my favorite fictitious soup, but then reminded myself that only a man of my indefatigable nature could accurately pronounce uvular-bilabial trills. I rolled back in my chair, both anserine paws resting gently on my bloated gut and a look of pure, unadulterated satiety spread across my caprine face. I now knew what my plump ol’ kerfrumpt must have felt like a couple weeks ago!

I resumed whistling my favorite Murderdeathcock tunes, then upgraded to outright singing them. People turned and stared. Looks of shock, appallment, and disgust broke out on the faces of nearly every (remaining) patron in the Ristorante Piccola Puttana. A-ha! Even those completely inured to the eccentricities of yours truly couldn’t withstand a top-o’-the-lungs belting-out of “Gang-Rape for Hitler”!

Only then did I notice that Mr. Van der Woobie, my nemetic across-the-street neighbor, was seated about 26′ and a few ear-lengths away from me. I grinsped with glee: A new way to entertwain myself! I watched him intently for a moment; he refused to make eye contact or even glance in my direction. If a man had ever put up a hardier effort to wilfully ignore everything going on around him (or one person in particular, perhaps), I hadn’t seen it. I stopped singing and staring, and stood up. I waddled—wobbily and Weeble-like—over to Mr. Van der Woobie’s table. I wasn’t drunk, but after 64 ounces of fluorosilicic acid, a whole loli, and six pounds of sugar got to reactin’ in my gut, I sure looked like it. I knew I would soon be dead—and in a massively exothermic way, no doubt—but more important things were on my mind right now.

“Hey, Woobo,” I slurred. Ol’ Woobo bared his teeth and winced, trying to pretend I wasn’t there or perhaps wishing that he wasn’t. But I was. And he was. And come Hell or high heels, I was determined to stay right there until the Ristorante Piccola Puttana security forces removed me.

The wizened old coot continued to ignore me. His waitress—another Borbra, I realized, and this one was even wearing sandals—sidled up to his table and delivered his meal: A single snail, still in its shell, floating upside-down in melted butter, in which was also sprinkled some sort of green herb. It was not loli, and it looked far from delicious.

I made motorboat noises with my lips while Borbra III perfunctorily asked ol’ Woobo if he needed anything else, then pranced away on her daintily be-sandaled feet. I pined for Loquisha and her sandaled delights, but that was neither here nor there now. What was here was Mr. Van der Woobie!

His head suddenly jerked in my direction. “What do you want, you blithering nincompoop?” he hissed through clenched teeth. No doubt his buttocks were clenched, too.

I remained dapper and dandy as ever—Mr. Van der Woobie’s crotchety old mannerisms wouldn’t get me down today! “Well, Wiebe,” I began eructationally, “I just thought I’d stop by at your table here and say ‘frunknupten-klackheimer-geflugt!’ to you. So… frunknupten-klackheimer-geflugt!” I waved effeminately to drive the point—whatever point I was trying to make—home.

“Let me… enjoy my dinner… Phil…” Mr. Van der Woobie ground out in tones that spoke of imminent death, increased taxes, or even a massive meteor impact that would rival the one that killed off the Dinosaucers.

Okay then! I shouted loud enough for people all the way over in the Apple Store to hear. Off in the distance, a car alarm went off. “I got it! I can take a hint! If you don’t want to chat with your dear old across-the-street neighbor over a plate of snails—well, snail—” I glanced at the curious dish before him “—I understand! Don’t worry, I’m not offended, Wee-Bee! I’ll just mosey on off, now, if you like! That is, I can z—”

Go away!!!! Wiebe van der Woobie howled like a man possessed by every demon from Pazuzu to Helcmodion. I flinched, winced, and almost cranched.

I turned on my heel, took two steps back toward my table, but then remembered why I had actually gone to harass and harangue ol’ Woobo so: “Oh, one more thing… can I borrow your tablecloth?” I simpered sweetly. “Some moron went and made a tent out of mine.” Before the wrinkled old codger could even open his wrinkled old mouth, I grabbed the corner of his tablecloth and pulled. Hard. With no more than a slight clinking together of the few dishes, glasses, and utensils atop it, the tablecloth slid smoothly off of his table and into my goosey hands. I tittered fluppantly, triumphantly, and turned again to waltz merrily away, billowing tablecloth in hand and smarmy smirk smeared across my smooty face.

Unfortunately, for a 6′ man with two left feet, the act of waltzing off with an 8′ tablecloth in hand poses many challenges, and sure enough, I only took three steps before I tripped on the fluttering corner of the cloth, got it hopelessly bound up around my ankles all the way up to my groin, and fell forward like an idiot child who had just learned how to walk. Arms and legs flailing, lungs rapidly and vocally expelling air as fast as they could, I hit the floor, then floundered about like a gaffed carp. And then the H2SiF6 burbling away in my stomach decided it was now the right time to detonate.

The world went white and my corpse went ballistic.

Astoundingly, I landed on my big, clown-like feet—no small feat considering I wasn’t the least bit feline. Before I could skitter out of the way, Mr. Van der Woobie’s shattered table landed on top of my head, pushing me down onto my ample buttocks. The table was quickly followed by various other comically heavy or fragile things that had taken to the air as a result of the underbuffalous, fluorian accident. Mr. Van der Woobie was gone—certainly dead, or at least blown to Kingdom Come. Last to land was my own bolo tie and leisure suit; the bolo beaned me right in the forehead and the naugahyde suit landed in a crumpled, leathery heap beside me. Both my underwear and my underunderwear were nowhere to be found. The few customers remaining (alive) in the restaurant fled in a flurry of black ties, bow ties, puffy shirts, and cummerbunds. I shook my goaty head, dog-like, and looked over at the dumbstruck waitress.

“Check, please.”

The next morning, upon waking I pumbled to my refrigerator to fetch myself a glass of ice water. I filled the glass from my fridge’s built-in water dispenser, then added a handful of these icy, cubey things that I believe are called “ice cubes.” Returning to my computering room to begin clicking, clacking, and twickling out this week’s filibusterous blog post, I stopped to reflect on the previous evening’s fine-dining adventure at the Ristorante Piccola Puttana. Everything had gone so well until that glass of fluoridated water had turned on me. If only I had ordered a Coke, or a Pepsi, or a Mountain Dew, or even some all-natural crab juice…

I eyed my glass of ice water balefully. It sat gently on my desk, unmoving and deceptively serene. It was city tap water, and indeed my city fluoridated their tap water. You!! Last night’s disaster is your fault!” I exploded from my chair. “You’ll pay for your insolence!” I grasped the glass of cold, refreshing ice water in my bony left hand and stomped back downstairs with it.

“I’ll show you! I dumped what was left of my helpless drink into the kitchen sink. The water quickly fled down the drainpipe before it could suffer my wrath, but the handful of ice cubes were trapped in the drain. I sneered with triumph. “Your liquid compatriots may have escaped, but you are mine! See you in Hell, ice,” I said with grim determination as I aimed the sink sprayer at the pile of helpless ice cubes and fired. “See you in Hell…”