A minnow of an adventure. But even a minnow deserves its moment in the sun…
“I think I’ll check out the pizza at 900 Degrees.”
“That’s up on Wilshire.”
“Are you going to drive there?”
“No, I think I’ll walk.”
And so it began.
Dr. M was working late that night, so my dinner plans would be a solo affair. I decided to check out this newly opened pizza restaurant whose “Claim to Fame” is hellaciously hot ovens. But first, I wanted to make sure that they offered the alternative of a gluten free crust, as I have been trying to cut down on my wheat intake, for health reasons, and to avoid the unflattering side effect of “Wheat Belly.”
I go to the computer and I Google “900 Degrees Pizza Santa Monica.” My first surprise is that the restaurant is not called 900 Degrees, it’s called 800 Degrees, which, due to my recollectional mistake, now sounds comparatively less impressive.
What was impressive to me was that Google knew immediately what I meant and took me directly to the 800 Degrees website. What if I’d typed in 300 Degrees, I wondered. Would it still have taken me there?
GOOGLE SPOKESPERSON: “Yes. We have a six hundred degree ‘Margin for Error’.”
At the website, I discover what I am looking for. 800 Degrees does indeed offer gluten free pizzas.
The walk to 800 Degrees is about a mile point three or so in distance. I know that because, in a car once, I had measured the span to the equidistant P.F. Chang’s, where I have often walked to meet my friend Paul for dinner. (Paul introduced me to Scotch there, and after having one glass of “Macallan’s 12” with dinner, I prefer to walk home than to drive home “all likkered up.”)
Before leaving home, I pay particular attention to bring along my new, tortoise shell sunglasses case. The added operation of placing them into the case seems to help me remember not to leave my sunglasses places.
My sunglasses case now comfortably secured in my pocket, I head out the door, and set off on my walk. Which will take about half an hour.
Ten minutes along, my route brings me to the Santa Monica courthouse where I had recently been called for Jury Duty but had not been required to serve. I wondered, when I passed by, if I would feel any retroactive regrets over missing out on a possibly interesting and certainly character-building opportunity.
It turns out, not a single one. If I felt anything, it was relief.
I continue on walking. Feeling the tiniest guilt for feeling no regrets whatsoever.
Further along the walk, I arrive at the currently-under-construction Laemmle Fourplex, and find the sidewalk ahead entirely blocked off. I veer towards the street, but the heavy traffic makes it precarious to pass on the right. I then turn in the opposite direction, only to discover that the “under construction” partition goes all the way to a fence, making passage also impossible on the left. I feel totally stymied as to how to proceed.
Then a helpful passerby points to a clearly marked “Detour” directly in front of me that – till he pointed it out – had gone entirely unnoticed. I decide to take that. But not before thanking the passerby, adding that without his thoughtful intervention, “I’d have been out here for a long time.”
Finally – as I had calculated – half an hour from my departure, I stand in front of the 800 Degrees pizza restaurant, corner of Wilshire and Second Street. I go in and, since there is no host or hostess – it is not that kind of a restaurant – I find a quiet table, planning to sit, eat gluten free pizza and read a book.
After removing my sunglasses, I reach into my pocket for my tortoise shell case. While rummaging around in there, and then hastily in my other pockets as well, I am jolted by a shocking realization.
I have forgotten my wallet.
One thing I know about restaurants is that they like it when you pay. In fact they insist upon it. And I didn’t have any money.
“All restaurants require payment.”
“I had nothing to pay with.”
“No gluten free pizza for me.”
Instantly panicked, I consider my strategical options.
Option Number One: Tell them ‘Up Front’ that I have forgotten my wallet, and ask if they would allow me to go home after dinner and return later with the money.
No. It is not in my character to solicit such unusual concessions.
Option Number Two: Order first. Then tell the cashier – you have to pay before receiving your food – that I had forgotten my wallet and ask if they would allow me to go home after dinner and return later with the money.
No. That option takes even more chutzpah (brazenness) than “Option Number One.”
Option Number Three: Call a nearby friend and ask them if they will drive over and bail me out, and I will pay them back later.
No. Setting aside the constricted “nearby friend pool” issue – and you can take out “nearby” and it would still be constricted – I go by what you might call an inversion of “The Golden Rule” – “Do not inconvenience others in any way that you would not want others to inconvenience you.” Also, I did not have a phone.
Option Number Four: Get up from the table, go out of the restaurant and walk all the way back home, retrieve the wallet, then get into a car and drive back to the restaurant and have dinner.
Which is exactly what I did.
LATER THAT NIGHT
“I went to that pizza place”, I reported.
“Did you walk, or did you drive?’
“Both", I replied.
And then I told her the story.
Postscript: How was the gluten free pizza? There is a place near our house called Wildflour whose gluten free pizza is crispier and tastier. The only drawback is that Wildflour recently closed down.
That’s why I was trying the new place. Unfortunately, the pizza at 800 Degrees arrived egregiously undercooked.
It appears they could have benefitted from that extra hundred degrees.