My wife and I took our son to Disneyland's California Adventure for his fifth birthday. We weren't sure what to expect. We'd taken him to Disneyland when he was three and he pretty much hated it. Our saving grace was the It's a Small World ride. That was the only one he enjoyed. So, yes, we were apprehensive. On top of that, the cost to get into the park for a family of three is somewhere around three-hundred dollars. Let that sink in. It's just a theme park. You know, rides, parades, people dressed as Disney characters, hour-long waits, over priced food, a lot of walking, enough people to make you feel like a herd of cattle. Three-hundred bucks we paid for that.
But my son Noland loved it. He behaved himself better than usual and was eager to go on several rides (you really can't go on many considering the long waits, and I was astonished that he held it together in those lines). The best part was a parade that featured several characters from Pixar movies like Cars and Monsters, Inc. We were bushed and decided to sit on the sidewalk and wait for the parade. Noland was happier than I've ever seen him, and he got a lot of attention from the characters in the parade. That, my friends, was worth the exorbitant fee to get into the place.
But what about the pizza? Ah, the pizza.
We stayed at a motel called the Jolly Roger. We've stayed there before, back when the Disneyland entrance was on the other side of the park, where the California Adventure is now. You have to walk a few blocks to get to the entrance now, the consequence of which has caused the motel to lose business, which has resulted in a sub par experience for all. The stairs were all rusted, we were awakened at four in the morning by a beeping fire alarm with a low battery in the room next to ours, there was construction next door where the pools used to be, and the people in the room next to us insisted on slamming the door repeatedly from five AM until we left the place at nine-thirty. They were also kind enough to allow their children to run down the corridor, back and forth, as if they had declared themselves human alarm clocks, because no one in the place wanted to sleep past five anyway, right?
So, after we settled into our room, finished with our Disney excursion, we decided to order a pizza, something we have done after just about every Disneyland trip since my wife and I were dating. I went into the lobby and asked the desk clerk for suggestions. He gave me three menus and pointed out the one that was most popular with their guests.
Now, I have rules about ordering pizza. First off, I check the menu to see if they offer artichoke hearts as an additional topping. The first menu (the name escapes me), the one that was popular, indeed offered artichoke hearts. Good. Great. I set that one aside. The second menu, for a place called California Pizza Kitchen, looked like something from a themed joint you take your kids for their birthday. I reluctantly checked the toppings and discovered, not to my surprise, that they did not offer artichoke hearts.
I promptly threw the menu on the floor.
The third menu looked promising, but alas they too did not offer artichoke hearts. That one found its home on the floor as well.
It appeared that the popular vote won the battle of the three pizza joints, and so I embarked on making a call to order my family a pie. We decided on artichoke hearts and ham. So here's another pet peeve of mine. Ham is ham and Canadian bacon is what should be offered for your pizza. I mean who wants deli ham on their pizza? Not me. I said to my wife something along the lines of, "Maybe I should ask for Canadian Bacon. What if they actually put ham on our pizza. I'd be devastated." She told me that most pizza places use the word ham, but it's always Canadian bacon. I know this to be true and I'm against it one hundred percent.
I call the place and I'm told that they are out of artichoke hearts. WHAT? You must be kidding me! I just about lost my will to be. I scrambled for an adequate substitution, but my mind was all a flurry. How is it a reputable Italian restaurant runs out of artichoke hearts? My mind flashed words of doubt in red. I was speechless. Alas, my wife came to rescue and said we should get bell peppers. Okay. Fine. Bell peppers it is. Sit back, have a drink, take a deep breath, and wait for a knock at the door. It's gonna be all right. Really, it is.
Or was it?
About a half an hour later there was a knock on the door. I opened it to a grinning little man with a pizza box. I gave him a hundred dollar bill and he gave me my change, purposely giving seven dollars in ones when he could have given a five and two singles, you know, for the tip. I gave him a five. I tip good for good service. I close the door and promptly opened the lid...
Diced bell peppers.
Read that a few times. Let it sink in. Have you ever gotten even a decent pizza with diced bell peppers on it? Me neither. You wanna know why? Because fresh peppers are always cut into strips. That they were diced meant they came out of a bag in the freezer?
You know what's even worse than that? You guessed it. Ham meant ham. Deli ham. All over the pizza with all those nasty little mushy diced peppers that have no substance because they'd been frozen an hour ago. The dough tasted like it was maybe one of those quick rising jobs that comes out of a bag. No yeast, just add water. There was a lot of cheese, but no amount of cheese could have saved this sorry excuse for a pizza from such a shameful preparation. And all this from the place that so many Jolly Rogers guests claimed to enjoy.
I planted my palm firmly against my forehead.
To think I paid eighteen dollars for that shit.
But, in the end, my son had a wonderful time that day, so, even with a belly full of shitty pizza, it was well worth it.
Now, go give your kid a hug. And if you don't have children, give your dog or cat a hug.