Once Upon a Pizza


Copyright 2002 by Jon Bondy, All Rights Reserved.

You may send copies of this to individual friends, but you may not publish this work without permission

Jon Bondy, jon@jonbondy.com


A friend of mine made a career change in her late twenties, switching from serious study of the Classics (Latin, Greek, and like that there) to medicine.  She entered medical school late enough that her classmates were all significantly younger than she.  So, when she decided to have a party for them, and invited me, I figured this would be great.  I had this image of young, nubile, intelligent women with great earnings potential, who would be certain to be impressed by an older man, meaning moi.  What a deal!

When I arrived at the party, it turned out I was half right.  The med students were indeed young, and some were nubile.  The shocker was that most of them were more concerned with their stock portfolios than with having fun.  They were so dedicated that I couldn’t get excited at all.  Boring. 

With one exception.  She had long, dark hair, drove a Jeep, and wanted to practice medicine in Vermont when she graduated.  She seemed like in interesting person.  I took a chance (not common for me, since I’m so afraid of rejection) and asked her out.  She agreed to have dinner with me the next night.

Now, this was a very special week in my life, since I had just discovered a restaurant near me that specialized in seafood pizzas with white sauce.  It was like seafood Alfredo, only over bread.  I liked it so much that I went there five times that week, and ordered the same thing every night.  So, that’s were we went.

When it came time to order, it turned out that she had some dietary problems, and could not have cheese or shrimp or meat.  The resulting pizza (sans cheese, shrimp, and cheese sauce) was, well, underwhelming.  Still, she had potential, so I hung in there, gamely.

We all have our demons, and it is unusual for anyone to be totally open on a first date, but this woman was astonishing.  Rather than making small talk and sizing each other up, she dug in, asking polite but pointed questions, so that at the end of the meal, she knew more about me than most people did after a month of dates.  Some admissions (like the fact that you are seeing a shrink) are easier to make after the other person knows you well enough to trust you “anyway”.  She opted for the facts, and just the facts, well before she had any idea who I was on a more intuitive and emotional level. She would have made a great Cop.

I was aware of the inquisition, but she was both persistent and polite, and I was unable to simply tell her to mind her own business.  After all, she had potential, right?

So, by the end of the meal, she knew me as only a private eye could, and I barely knew who she was.  After all, she had been controlling the conversation, and very little had been said about her.  At that point, she politely informed me that I had not made the cut, and we parted company.  I was annoyed and hurt.

The next time I saw my shrink, I told her all about the date.  I was bummed: was I so terrible that I deserved to be dumped after the first date?  This was sure to increase the duration of my therapy; should I bill the girl?!?   As I told the story to the shrink, she interrupted me.  What, exactly, did the girl say she could not eat?  I repeated the list.  She started to chuckle.

It turns out that the dietary restrictions were due to a drug the girl was taking.  MAO Inhibitors are anti-depressants that were used commonly in the 1980’s.  They work quickly and effectively, but they have potentially fatal side effects.  If one takes MAO Inhibitors and then eats foods which contain tyramine (including alcohol, cheese, fish, sauerkraut, and yeast), one’s blood pressure can spike up, leading to sudden strokes and heart attacks, even in young people.  They are dangerous drugs, and were only prescribed when really necessary.  They are used very rarely now, since the more modern anti-depressants have less dire side effects.

The upshot, it seems, is that this wonderful girl, this girl “with potential”, was so screwed up that she had to take potentially life-threatening drugs just to avoid depression.

So, it was more like the pot calling the kettle black than like a critique from on high.  Suddenly, my rejection was not quite so hard to take.