In an alien-slime way, Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.’s “The Thing”—much like its renowned 1982 sequel/predecessor by John Carpenter—presents all the tension of an Agatha Christie mystery: One of us is a murderer. But who? And can we figure it out before we’re the next victim? Only difference…
I was sitting on a bench downtown the other day. I was eating this pizza I got from this terrible pizza place. Three things told me it was terrible:
To get to the place I had to walk down a flight of stairs to a small patio-esque area. It didn’t really work as a patio because you would get more sunlight by not walking down into the pizza dungeon in the first place. It was more of a semi-flooded basement with folding chairs and a lingering smell.
The guy making the pizza was smoking a Black and Mild. Now, smoking isn’t necessarily a bad thing for a pizza guy to do. A grizzled pizza guy with a cigarette hanging on his lip is generally a better, more experienced cook than a pimple-faced fry boy. A Black and Mild is a statement though. It is a smokable middle finger to whatever you are doing at the time with its stifling aroma and plastic tip. Besides this he was on a phone call that did not have to do with ordering more pepperonis. His whole demeanor reeked of ‘fuck this.’
The pizza was not fresh. The flies buzzing just above it could tell it was note fresh.
Each pie was covered with an upside down pan that didn’t quite cover the edges where just a hint of beige, stale crust hung out. The pizzas were cold, enough to warrant my two slice being reheated. By the time the pizza was in my hand, the pepperoni had taken on the color and toughness of a rusty stop sign. The veggies were pale and looked like they may have been in the bottom of a pickle jar for a while.
None of this was important though because I only paid five bucks and got a free drink! I didn’t take the drink though, I don’t drink soda.
So I am eating my gourmet lunch on a bench downtown and watching people walk by. I lead a terribly exciting life, mind you, but I do find time to get out and really appreciate people.
It was about this time a couple with a stroller decided to take up residency next to me on the bench. The man(whom I doubt was a husband) was a shaggy bit of brown beard scruff wearing an MMA hoodie. The wife seemed bubbly and unaware of her surroundings, which I assume the baby was like too if genetics are any indicator to these things. She sat next to me while the man addressed me with his eyes and attempted to ask me a question.
Unfortunately I could not hear the question because my headphones were in. Also my mouth was full of chewed, awful pizza garbage. I could have only been less able to answer a question if both of my eyes were simultaneously plucked out by pigeons, my legs spontaneously combusted, and several feral children appeared to pick my bones clean of meat.
I begrudgingly put my pizza back into its awful box, wiped my hands with an greasy napkin, and pulled out one of my ear buds. I made a concerted effort to address this man, this horrible man and his horrible baby bearer and baby. I tried.
By the time I was looking back at him, however, he simply stated ‘Fuck you’ and was walking away, his baby chariot and its driver bouncing behind.
It seemed harsh, it seemed like the guy could have given me a second. Far be it from me to assume every passerby’s question, bending my will to that of the people. Clearly this man was a communist. Only a communist would rely so heavily on the action of his fellow man and be so distraught as to curse their name when the system he relied so heavily upon came crashing down around him. ‘Fuck you’ Marx! ‘Fuck you’ Kropotkin! ‘Fuck you’ Trotsky!
I put my ear bud back in shaking my head with disgust and went back to consuming my terrifying pizza facsimile.
You know, even though I was stuck eating what amounted to eating rotten vegetables and stale cheese, that guy was stuck with a kid. It made me happy to know that while I had a brief moment of cheap foul food in my immediate future, that terrible pizza of a man was stuck with the drippings and smells of a child for his. Every chew of cheese represented a shitty diaper or vomited on shirt. Each bite the disappointment of not making the team, or of making the musical cast.
It made me feel good that though I was going to have to stomach some shitty pizza I didn’t have to stomach that shitty life.