There’s a Little Caesar’s by my apartment I visit with great frequency because I’m lazy and unhealthy and Heaven is a place and the road there is paved with Crazy Bread. One evening, within its walls, I’m in line behind a young mother. She’s a part of the Workout Pants Are Cute And A Thing So Get Used To It generation. She’s wearing some tan Uggs, a marshmallowy vest, and several inches of makeup. Her earrings are the size of Oreos. She’s probably a little south of 5 ft tall. She doesn’t have time for any of this and checks her phone a lot. Her little girl and little boy are with her.
The little girl is in a puffy pink coat and runs around the space sporadically and bouncy like satellite TV signals in a storm. It’s like every spot she stops in she immediately realizes is on fire so she’s got to get to moving again. She eventually tires out and rests on the windowsill and plays with a sign that hangs in the window hyping the establishment’s Italian bread. She seems sad. She wants to be somewhere else.
The boy’s in a Bulls coat and an orange beanie and he’s treating his mother’s right arm like a slot machine. He’s trying to get a look inside her purse and he will not let up. The mother’s occupied with ordering and ignores him till she can’t anymore.
“Miggy, you cannot pull on Mami’s arm,” she says, “It hurts me.”
“But I want the cookies,” he says.
He has very little quit in him and I respect him for this.
The purse is big enough it could fit the contents of Mary Poppins’ purse inside it and still have room for a mid-size Buick.
“I can’t get them right now,” she says, “You’ll get them when we get in the car.”
Defeated and deflated, the boy Charlie Brown’s it next to his sister on the windowsill. Mother Workout Pants is in the midst of the deep breath she takes before she begins her order and you can see there’s something sinister to it.
I swear we’re gonna get to basketball soon.
Two meat lovers pizzas. Some crazy bread. 2 Liter of Manzanita Sol to show she knows exactly what’s up. Then the weirdness. She orders hot wings and asks if they can cook them 5 minutes longer than usual because last time, quote, “the skin was too soft”, unquote.
My finger goes to my head, then scratches it. You go to Little Caesar’s so you can get your food quickly and go. You do not go in there, survey the menu, and then have them make something to order. Not only was this lady ordering something special, she was ordering something special that was a secondary item the restaurant isn’t known for. Regardless, you want what you want. I eat cheeseburgers plain, I don’t like gravy, and think any and all condiments should go away and die a horrible death. I’m saying, I can’t throw stones about people’s food habits because mine are super weird, too.
The order is placed, though, and the boy pops back into action about the cookies.
Throughout this whole ordering ordeal, taking all the specifics and noise in stride like Jordan in Utah in ’98, is Jonathan, or so the name tag on his shirt tells me. Jonathan looks like he could be anywhere from 16-54, and he is poised and cool like the inside of icicles in Antarctica, unmoved and unfettered and at home in this chaos.
He hears the weeps and whines for the cookies as I do and he’s got a girl in the back working on the pizzas and the extra crispy skinned wings and he’s about to take my order but his heart is too big to let a child hurt. He piddles and fiddles below the counter and I think he’s looking for napkins because she’d asked for those, too.
The little boy is Kobe. He wants more and he wants it now and he’ll try as hard as he can to get it. If he doesn’t get it, he’ll pout.
The little girl is Pau. She’s not sure where to step or where to go and once she gets to a spot she’s not sure how long she can stay there so she just moves some more until she’s sick of moving. Then she stays still and mopes and thinks about being elsewhere.
Jonathan is Steve Nash, or, if nothing else, he is what Lakers fans hope that Steve Nash will be as the season progresses and he gets more games under his belt. He knows what all parties want and he is confident and quiet with that confidence and he is about sharing. He’s there to keep the peace and keep people happy. And D’Antoni is so very grateful to have him.
Pizza. Pizza. Basketball. Basketball.