Parakeet Pizza

Where waiters and diners tell tales.

I once worked at a pizza parlor next door to a cowboy bar. Every Wednesday, a man would come over from the bar to order a large jalapeño pizza — and to ogle the breasts of one of the waitresses. Every time this guy came in, he would say in a loud voice, “I’d like a large parakeet pizza!” He seemed to think this was hilarious. After hearing it for months on end, we did not find it so amusing. It was especially irksome combined with his leering at the waitress’ breasts.

One morning I found a dead blue jay in the parking lot. I picked it up, put it in a plastic bag, and deposited it in the walk-in cooler. When Wednesday arrived, our funnyman came in, did his usual shtick, and ambled placidly back to the bar. I rubbed my hands together with glee and made two large jalapeño pizzas. When they were nearly finished I pulled one out, retrieved the blue jay, and laid him on his back in the center of the pizza. I spread his wings in flight, with his shiny black talons pointing up. His blue feathers looked particularly vivid against the bright red of the tomato sauce. Back into the oven he went for just a moment to ensure that the hot mozzarella would keep him in position. Then I whisked him out, bagged the pie, and made my way to the bar. I sashayed up to the customer, dropped the pie on the table, and with my most winning smile said, “Here you are! One large parakeet pizza!” He grinned delightedly at my acknowledgement of his wit, tore open the bag, and then froze. A peculiar shade of green suffused his features before he bolted for the men’s room. I swept the pie off the table and returned to exchange it for its unsullied twin.

He still came in every Wednesday, but he never mentioned parakeet pizzas again.

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