V: Luigi’s Pizza Parlor

            My snakes have been troublesome lately.  They started complaining about the food.  I have my chef Antoine prepare meatballs for all of them every morning – one meatball for every six inches of snake.  (I almost said two meatballs for every foot, but of course snakes don’t have feet.)  This is the daily  portion suggested by Professor Turtlenose in his book Herpetology for Dummies.1 For my 13 snakes that comes out to 181 meatballs, or about 23 pounds of ground beef, every day, not to mention the garlic and onions and oregano.  I also give them unlimited kibble at night.  That should be enough.

            But they were not satisfied.  They wanted mice and frogs and grasshoppers and cockroaches, and they held a big meeting to complain.  I said, “Listen, my serpents.” They love it when I call them serpents, even though it’s just a fancy word for snakes.  “Listen, my serpents,” I said.  “You guys are predators.  All the back yards on this block are connected.  You can slither under the fences and hunt the whole area.  There may not be any frogs, but there are hundreds of mice and rats, and certainly cockroaches and beetles and maybe even scorpions if you’re lucky.”  (Murmur of ssssscorpions – they love scorpions for that special crunch.)  “I’m not providing mice or cockroaches for you – this isn’t a hotel.  You get meatballs and kibble − go hunt if you want extras!  You’re in the army now!”  (This was not exactly true, they’re not actually in the army,  but I thought it sounded good, a crisp way to say get with the program!).

            There was some whimpering and hissing when I said this, and some sniffling, and cries of awwww! And no fair!  Then I felt a little sorry for my snakes – I didn’t want to be too harsh on them.  So I said “OK, just this once, pizza for everyone.  What do you want on your pizzas?”  Or course I should have known – they wanted mice and frogs and cockroaches and grasshoppers.

            So I called Luigi’s Pizza Parlor.  Luigi answered the phone.  I said “Luigi, do you have mice?”  There was silence for a minute, and then Luigi said “yes, we have mice, but please boss, don’t shut me down.  Think of my poor family.”  I didn’t quite understand what he meant, so I went on.  “And cockroaches, Luigi.  Do you have cockroaches?”  More silence.  Luigi started to cry.  “Yes, we have cockroaches too.  But what can I do?  I’m a poor man, boss.  This place is all I have.  Don’t put me out of business!”

            I said “put you out of business?  All I want is two large pizzas, one with extra mice and one with extra cockroaches.  Do you deliver?”  Luigi said “O grazie dio,2 I thought you were an inspector from the health department!  But no, we can’t give you mice on a pizza.  How about meat balls?”  Then I understood.  “Thanks, Luigi,” I said, “we have plenty of meat balls.  But I think I can take care of your mouse and cockroach problem.”

            So I turned to the meeting of angry snakes and said “Guys, get ready for a hunting trip!”  Then we all got into my car and went to Luigi’s.  We got there about eleven in the morning, and the snakes went at it, and by about 3:30 they had eaten every mouse and cockroach in the place, and the bigger snakes also ate rats, and the smaller ones found some worms.  By the time we were done the snakes were so full they could hardly move, and Luigi was so happy he gave us a gift certificate for four free large pizzas to use whenever we wanted.  We promised to come back every few weeks to clear out the mice and cockroaches.  Luigi’s wife came out and gave us a cheesecake, which only I was interested in because snakes don’t like cheesecake.  And since then no one has complained about the food.

  1. Herpetology is the science of snakes.
  2. Italian for Oh, thank God!