The Pizza place was full. It wasn’t just Phil’s idea to end the season with a trip to Tony’s Pizzeria & Fajita House. A men’s soft ball team was also there.
Tony’s was one of those weird hybrid restaurants that actually made it. He got a lump of money from his old man, so he could weather out the storm until people realized that mixing Pizza and fajitas in the same place was in fact – fucking awesome.
Phil’s team had a score of pizzas spread and pitchers of HFCS laden Root Beer, beer and Sodas scattered on every table. He was laughing at one of his players stories while sipping an iced tea and eating a vegan fajita veggie pizza.
Susan, the top hitter, stood up.
“To the weirdest coach in the land and a winning season!” she declared, raising her hand in toast.
“Here! Here!” chirped the others.
Immediately, a large crash occurred in the kitchen. The metal bowl of the dough mixer spun upside down.
BANG! …. woo … woo … …. woo … woo … …. woo … woo … woo…woo…woo-woo-woo-woo-woowoowoowowowwwwwwwww.
Susan walked over to the kitchen and saw Tony had fallen on the ground and was squirming and throwing himself on his back.
“CALL 911,” she yelled, checking his pulse.
Phil, pinned in a booth between players, sat through the ordeal.
Nobody noticed the figure that walked through the door. Nor how she directly walked up to Phil. She was rail thin in black boots and tattoos and piercings a plenty. Her hair was short on the right side and long on the left extending horizontally to the left. In some ways, her head looked like a comet with a dark tail.
“It IS you.” she said.
Phil’s eyes widened. He placed his hand over his A-11 wrist watch.
“Uhhhhh …. how did you find me?”
“SOMEBODY DO A HEIMLICH MANOUVER!”
“I have something of yours.”
She pulled out a battered piece of notebook paper. On it, was a hand scribbled translation of the Lojong proverbs with lots of typos.
“You wrote these down and told me to memorize these and practice one of the proverbs PHYSICALLY for five minutes a day and then to rotate them out one proverb at a time. Remember?”
You also said to practice this method of confronting the suffering of EVERY universe every day for as long as I could every day.”
She rolled up the tattered notebook paper into a ball and dropped it on top of his vegan pizza. She mashed the paper ball deeper into the pie.
“Done,” she said.
“HE’S CHOKING!” came from the kitchen.
“HE’S TOO FUCKING FAT. I CAN’T GET MY ARMS AROUND HIM!”
She stopped, turned away from Phil toward the kitchen and yelled.
“USE A THICK BELT TO EXPAND YOUR GRIP!”
She took off her studded belt and threw it into the kitchen.
She walked in front of him as the people were fixated on Tony. She reached out and touched the ball of notebook paper wistfully.
“I can imagine holding ALL the pain of EVERY universe in my heart and any individual now and drive all the blame into myself without blaming myself.”
She looked at Phil and started tearing up in a fearless strength. She spoke in a fierce totality in words warping through tears.
“I am strong enough to imagine sending liberation to all of it and including most of all to myself and the ego delusion that cycles in and out of consciousness. I can hold ALL the suffering of every reality within my breath. ALL OF IT. And the best thing, is that I can experience all of these things without needing them to be true or false.”
She wrestled a thick wad of napkins from the overstuffed napkin holder and wiped her nose and pointed to the wad of notebook paper on Phil’s pizza.
“So, there. Your lesson is now a topping on your pizza.”
“So what are you going to do?” asked Phil.
“I’m going to save the Universe butterfly style.”
She smiled. Looked at him ruefully.
“I’m going to teach art.”
Phil swallowed audibly.
A large slamming sound came from the kitchen.
“SHIT!” someone yelled.”HE’S FUCKING HUGE! GODDAM IT! PICK HIM UP!”
As she turned to walk away, Phil spoke.
“I need a Lojong proverb to master for the next year, but I cannot pick it myself. Which one should I use? Look at me and based on what you see, make a choice for me. I will practice it every day for five minutes and create a physical practice to embody it for those five minutes.”
Without hesitation she marched over to the table, picked up the wadded notebook paper, flattened it out and circled the last proverb on the list with an eyebrow pencil.
Walking toward the door, she heard the cough of the Tony projecting a wad of food from an adequately applied Heimlich maneuver with a thick belt. She turned to the people, took a breath of all their suffering and anxiety of the room for the current situation, blew out deep and penetrating breath of compassion knowing they had everything under control.
A beer-bellied bubba in the corner booth caught her eye as he was chewing some of Tony’s custom-seasoned beef fajita pizza. She looked at him for a full three breaths. He muffled out an assessment through a wad of saliva, pizza dough, sauce, cheese, black olive and red pepper.”
“See you around,” she said to Phil. she spun around, her hair swinging like a compass needle.
The glass door closed quietly with a soft, hydraulic hiss.