[by Ralph “Big Ears” Guanhulio | Oct 14th, 2022]
It was about a month ago that our culture writer Tish Remmly burst into my office, waving around the rough manuscript that would eventually become Orulio News’ most controversial article yet. Once I finally got her to stop swinging the papers above her head and read her rankings, my heart sank—surely there must have been some mistake, right? We argued for hours over the list’s placements and successfully advocating for the representation of Belarus within the top ten, I remarkably walked out of the Orulio bullpen around 3am with my employment still intact. My friendship with Ms. Remmly, however, had been irrevocably destroyed. In the weeks leading up to the article’s publication, a series of off-hand comments I had made that night seemed to have ruffled the feathers of some high-level executives: my doubts that Van Nuys was indeed the pizza capital of the world were making waves in the office and my life was about to radically change.
It was an abnormally cold day when my plane landed at LAX. My attitude was poor and my financial state was even poorer—print media is dead and our online format is essentially the vulture slowly picking away at its carcass. I had been exiled to California and to make matters worse, my checked luggage was transferred to the wrong flight during one of my three layovers and was now, funnily enough, going to be landing in Belarus tomorrow. So many questions ran through my head: why couldn’t it have been me landing in Minsk? Is being forced to spend a year in Van Nuys really the best punishment for throwing an inkjet printer at a coworker? And what the hell did Tish Remmly even know about pizza??? She’s on record saying her favorite food is yogurt for Christ’s sake! I guess this is just my lot in life… and it SUCKS.
It was an all-time low for the shitty story that is my doomed little life when I walked through the doors of Pizza Man. It was nearly 10pm and the restaurant was more than vacant, whatever that means. I placed an order for what the menu called a “Persian” pizza (Canadian bacon, salami, German sausage, mushrooms, green peppers) and an ajarski (also known as khachapuri or a “cheese boat”, it is a Georgian dish that consists of a breadbowl filled with cheese and baked with an egg on top). A lone man exited the kitchen and handed me my food.
“Let me know how everything is.”
It was enough to crumble my stone-cold yet fragile façade. I broke down into tears and fell onto the ground sobbing, recounting the whole tragic tale to him as snot covered the cardboard boxes underneath my head. By the time I opened my eyes to thank him, I realized he had put his headphones back on and was in the kitchen cleaning the dishes piled high in the sink. Thank god, I thought to myself, he almost saw me in a moment of weakness. I writhed around in pain for little longer before I left the establishment, food in hand.
It was about three hours later that I finally returned home on foot. By the time I bit into the pizza, calling it room-temp would be an overstatement. Not the restaurant’s fault—mostly the fault of the FAULTY (pun intended) company car provided by Orulio when I arrived in the city. That piece of shit broke down within thirty minutes of leaving LAX and I just left it on the side of the road. Didn’t even take the keys out of the ignition. If any one wants it, I left it in a tow-away zone in front of Canter’s Deli. Do not contact me about it, I do not and can not give a single fuck about it now. Car issues aside, the pizza was fine. Maybe I’d get it again. The ajarski was the clear highlight of the meal but Orulio didn’t exactly name Van Nuys the ajarski capital of the world, now did it? I honestly don’t know what my editors want from me or if they’ll even publish this. I fucking hate Los Angeles and I hate my life. Tish, if you’re reading this—you make me sick. YOU did this to me and I’m starting to think that the higher powers that be are actually enjoying seeing me suffer like this. You haven’t heard the last of Ralph Guanhulio. You will pay for what you have done to me.
Check in next week for the next exciting installment of The Slice is Right! Next week’s spot? The Costco on Sepulveda Boulevard!