Big Tomato is a pizza place in Des Moines. They sell whole pies, but I know them primarily as a ‘by the slice’ kind o’ place. Rather like an Iowa version of Pizza Mart.

They had a sheet of paper by the window where you ordered with a list of numbers and after each number, the toppings. Random things like an Irish themed peas and potatoes pizza or alfredo sauce, olives, pimentos and gorgonzola. You ordered by number and if you did not or attempted to get off the menu, you were publicly shamed.

And you didn’t want to be shamed, because if it was 2 am and you were slightly tipsy and under thirty (which I was, barely, in those days), the punk rock girl on the other side of that window was the beautiful thing you had ever seen and you did not want to be on her bad side because, hey, you know, maybe you had a shot, you know? I mean, not really, but you didn’t want to rule it out by not ordering properly, did you? I thought not.

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