Thursday January 30, 2003 11:51 PM
Warp 9 to Charlie's

Tonight at about 8:30 pm, not having had supper yet, not wanting to go anywhere, and with not much of anything around the place to fix; we ordered Domino's pizza. We'd gotten a coupon in the mail for three medium one topping pizzas for $13.99 and we figured for about what we'd pay if we had gone to a pizza parlor for one meal we'd have pizza all weekend. We'll see how well we figured in the next few days.

We ordered one pepperoni hand-tossed, one hamburger thin crust, and one pepperoni thin crust. To me, it's not pizza unless it has pepperonis on it and I prefer hand-tossed crust. Ruth, on the other hand, prefers hamburger on thin crust so we each got one perfect match and one compromise pizza. Of course, I'll only eat two of the three and she and Isaiah will eat any of them, but we had enough to go around tonight.

Domino's, as I was reminded tonight, is, though we have it infrequently, a very nostalgic brand of pizza for me.

With the first bite of my, perfect in temperature and amount of (extra) sauce, slice of hand-tossed pepperoni memories rushed to my mind which triggered further memories which brought back...

The taste of my pizza reminded me of the days in the lobby of Paul Gray dormitory which was more homelike than any other dormitory I've ever seen. Not only did it remind me of taking delivery of Domino's pizzas of ages past in that lobby, it also reminded me of good times with friends some of whom I haven't seen in years- some of whose names I can't even remember.

Most of these good times revolved around pizza and watching TV in the semi-darkened lobby. One of my favorite traditions in those days was to order a small pepperoni hand-tossed from Domino's at just the right time so that it would arrive a few minutes before the opening strains of that oh, so familiar orchestral piece that heralded another week's adventure with the crew of the flagship the United Federation of Planet's great fleet- the Enterprise D.

Yes, I was eating one of those very pizzas the first time I heard that music, surrounded by the abovementioned friends. While together we deciphered the strange mystery of the Encounter at Farpoint, just as I was a season or two later when the first cast member to leave permanently, Natasha Yar, was absorbed by a sentient puddle of black goo, and just as I was several years later when the last episode of the show drew the television adventures of the crew of the Enterprise to a close.

I remember some years after I'd heard that music for the first time, at another college, instead of Mondays at 8 pm, first-run episodes of Star Trek The Next Generation ran on Sundays at 10:30 pm. Now I no longer lived in a dormitory- I lived in the campus owned apartments and across the courtyard lived my good buddy Charlie whom I almost always joined to watch the show.

Once again, Domino's was a very frequent component of the event, however the vending machine was now much more than ten feet away. Now, I not only had to order at just the perfect time so that the delivery person could be paid before the commercials after the theme song were over, I also had to incorporate a mad dash of about 30 yards both directions (60 round-trip) to the soda vending machine in the apartment complex office into my routine.

Though there were many of these nights only one stands out in my mind with any great clarity and not because it was the most uplifting or most exciting episode we watched that night. I remember it most because I still bear, faint but visible, the scar I acquired that night.

I had a big glass mason jar mug I always used because it could hold plenty of ice and two cans of Coke. In fact, it could be the very one from which I just took a swig of water, but they are nigh-on indistinguishable one from another and there's no way to tell. Anyway, this particular evening something had detained me slightly from departing for Charlie's apartment and if I were to arrive on time I had to hurry. I dashed, mug in hand, to the vending machine, shoveled in my quarters as quickly as possible, and loaded my mug up with ice from the ice machine as I looked at my watch with concern. I could still make it if I ran.

And run I did. Like Jesse Owens, I sprinted out the door of the office- ice-filled mug in one hand and two unopened (I'd pour at Charlie's to save time) cans of Coca-Cola in the other. I was flying fast, but low. Unfortunately a little too low. As I sailed across the sidewalk which bisected the courtyard in front of Charlie's second storey apartment, my foot caught on an expansion joint between two slabs of cement and I stopped flying and began sailing.

Fortunately, my great velocity, coupled with my (much less then than now, yet still not insignificant) mass provided sufficient momentum to keep me moving forward as I stretched out horizontally in space, my upper body going down as my legs went up.

It seems, though, that in times of great distress the human body can process information and react much more swiftly than it normally does. I still can feel that fall as if it were happening in slow motion. There was no eye-shutting, teeth-clenching, fatalistic resignation to the occurrence of whatever was going to happen. I recall clearly having plenty of time to think about the fact that I didn't want to break my best mug and that in order to prevent that I extended my left arm, the one holding the mug, in such a fashion that the landing skid of the rapidly landing aircraft I had become would be my left elbow instead of the mug.

I also recall clearly and with that critical situation sort of temporal dilation, the feeling of my elbow burning and grinding away as it was sacrificed to protect my mug, much like the ablative heat shielding on the bottom of some Apollo space capsule.

All I remember of the rest of the evening is that I did in fact make it to Charlie's before the story started, but that I didn't get much out of the episode what with the searing pain and trying not to bleed all over Charlie's place.