A few days ago a friend of mine recounted an amusing little story about how he almost ruined a perfectly good grilled cheddar and pepperoni sandwich. The power had gone out and he had to scramble to get his indoor grill to finish it, lest it get soggy.
All I’ve been able to think about since then is eating a damn grilled cheese and pepperoni sandwich. Choosing to eat a grilled cheese sandwich, with or without pepperoni, is not an easy decision for me. I’m lactose intolerant.
A lot of people (like Chris Rock and my mother) think lactose intolerance is an imaginary disease. If you’re one of those people, let me ask you something. Do you think I don’t want to eat ice cream like a normal person? Do you think it’s easy being married to an Italian and not being able to have cheese? Ever? Do you think I enjoy having baristas look at me like I’m crazy when I order my coffee with soy milk? Or worse, black?
Nevertheless, I couldn’t stop thinking about the sandwich. This morning I was getting desperate. I confided in one of my staffers.
“I’m thinking about getting a grilled cheese and pepperoni sandwich,” I said.
“You can’t!” said J.P. “Think of the rest of us. We have to be here with you all day!”
He was right of course, but at lunchtime I sent off an e-mail to my friend. I told him I was going to kill him for putting the idea in my head. Then I put on my coat, made myself as small as possible and tried to tiptoe out to the deli.
“Don’t do it Wanda,” J.P. said. All I could do was put my head down and slink out the door.
At the deli, they tried to talk me out of it.
“I’d like a grilled cheese and pepperoni sandwich, please,” I said.
“You want Rice eh Roni?” asked the guy behind the counter.
“Pepperoni,” I said.
He turned to ask Raul if that’s what I really wanted.
“You want baloney?” said Raul.
“No Raul, I want grilled cheese and pepperoni.”
Raul looked concerned.
“This is gonna be a little eh-spicy, no?”
“I don’t care about that. Just give it to me.”
After a little more discussion about bread (I chose white, no use pushing my luck) I got my sandwich and ran back to the office.
“Hold my calls! Don’t disturb me for at least ten minutes!” I said over my shoulder. I clutched the sandwich and went to hole myself up in my office.
“Don’t do it Wanda,” said J.P.
“Do you have any messages for your next of kin?” asked A.P.
“Yes,” I said. “Tell them it was the best sandwich I ever ate and I regret nothing.”
I could barely keep my hands from shaking while I unwrapped it. Would it be everything that I thought it was?
Actually, no. It wasn’t quite how I imagined it. I don’t really know what I was expecting. Grill marks, I suppose.
I ate it anyway. It was greasy. It was fairly oozing with cheese. I wolfed down the first half in about two seconds. I hesitated after that, but decided that I might as well go all the way. If I was going to be violently ill I might as well go all the way. In for a penny, in for a pound!
At around 2 p.m. I started to feel sick. At around 3 I was praying the drunks’ prayer (GodifyouletmeliveI’llneverdothisagainIswear….). I sat doubled over on the Brooklyn-bound F train and kept telling myself that it would have been OK if I had only had it with tomato. The next time I’d have tomato.
I had to pick up Dante at school. He took one look at me and knew something wasn’t right.
“What’s wrong, mom?” he asked.
“I did something really stuipd,” I said. “I ate a grilled cheese and pepperoni sandwich. You know why that was stupid, right?”
“Yes,” he said, and proceeded to play his Nintendo DS and munch on mini Chips Ahoy.
“You want the last cookie?” he asked.
“No. I guess I shouldn’t have eaten that sandwich,” I said.
“Yeah. You should have had McDonalds.”
When we got home the first thing he did was tell Mr. Rizzuto why I wouldn’t be eating dinner tonight.
“Narc,” I said
I regret nothing.