Pepperoni, mushrooms, green peppers, and extra sauce

When Jon and I lived in Los Angeles we used to walk down to Damiano’s Pizza on Fairfax every Friday night. It was just a couple blocks from our apartment, and we always packed a flask of bourbon to see us on our journey. We’d order the pizza and then wait outside on the bench next to the storefront sneaking sips of bourbon and making friends with the local homeless people and members of the Russian mafia.

One night we met an old Russian man named Abee, and oh the stories he had to tell! He was the type of man who wore a frown and tried to make you believe that being alive was the worst thing in the world, but you knew deep down that he loved people and that he’d take a bullet for you in a war.

Jon and I really warmed up to Abee, and we saw him several times on our drunken Damiano journeys. We’d see him and scream, “Abee!” and he’s scoff because that’s what his role was, to scoff and be angry, but then we’d catch a small smile creep across his face. One Friday night Jon and I were talking to Abee and being terribly giddy and probably obnoxious in our drunkenness, and when Jon went inside to grab our slices I turned to Abee and said, “Man, he’s crazy,” referring to Jon and trying to get Abee on my side.

Abee immediately shook his head, scoffed again, and muttered in his Russian accent, “You make him that way.”

And now, now whenever I nag Jon about something, something stupid because there’s no need for nagging, he’ll turn to me and say, in a fake Russian accent, “You make me this way!”