The Roma Time Warp

Pizzeria Roma. It’s a nice place. Friendly service, good pizza, not too smoky most days, it’s a place to go and get things done. fuego and I met there Wednesday with a full agenda. Vacuum cleaners to sell, scripts to discuss. Writer stuff. I got there at about four in the afternoon to find fuego marking up some copy for the vacuum catalog.

I settled in across from him and tried to get my brain around another in a series of short stories that begins with Moonlight Sonata. This one, I have a character and I have the theme, but the story was stuck. So while I rambled on in the hope of stumbling across a story fuego was pounding his head against why this particular vacuum cleaner is superior to all others.

Time passed. Since neither of us was enjoying tremendous success, we were starting to interrupt each other, to talk about more interesting things. fuego punted on Zepter and hauled out his laptop, and produced an item that can only have negative long-term consequences—a splitter to allow us to plug in to the already-occupied outlet. There is now no limit to how long we can stay.

And when I say no limit, I mean just that. Roma never closes. So we sat and discussed a short screenplay adaptation of a thing I wrote you have never read, discussed the script competition it is targeted for (which may not even happen this year), and came to an understanding about the feel of the whole piece. We thought about shots but didn’t really get into the dialog so much. This story will be much more adaptable than other things I wrote. So we got some good stuff done on that.

Then, out came Zepter again. There’s a big pile of copy here for just one friggin vacuum cleaner. Naturally, being me, I had many opinions to express and now I’m a co-writer for this crap. We spent some time bashing our heads against that. (Copy writing is hard—not only do you need to be interesting, you have to be informative and not provably false.)

fuego and I wrapped up at last, having advanced the art on many fronts but without a breakthrough. The last phase of the evening was spent marking up paper, so I didn’t have my computer’s clock in front of me. fuego checked his phone, and his eyes bugged out, just a little bit. “Do you know what time it is?” he asked me.

I knew by the way he asked that it was way later than I thought. I thought it was probably about 2 a.m., so I added a couple of hours and guessed “Ummm… four?”

“Almost six-thirty,” he said. “Dang.”

As I walked the two miles home in the dawn’s early light, I reflected that Pizzeria Roma has done something that Einstein and his bunch had given up on. There in an innocuous semi-subterranean all-night restaurant, the laws of the space-time continuum as we know it have been suspended. Perhaps there is a black hole in there, somewhere near the oven, that they installed to hasten pizza service, and its effects are felt throughout the bar. Perhaps the pizza sauce is laced with a subtle psychotic drug that deadens the consumer’s sense of time passing. Whatever it is, I want the rest of my Wednesday back. Not that I was doing anything useful with it—it’s just the principle of the thing.

13 thoughts on “The Roma Time Warp

  1. You’re an out of work, struggling author. You’re supposed to be keeping these hours. Savor it. We want to see photos of your future Roma tables, covered in empty demi-tasse filled with Gauloise butts.

  2. Now here’s a really bizarre time warp. It’s been several days since I’ve been here, and clearly there have been quite a few posts. But over on the right, in the “recent comments” list, the most recent post is one of mine — and one I made on the visit before last, not the last!

    Of course, things might be a bit weird because I’ve spent the past hour hunting for a downloadable version that doesn’t involve paying money or committing to a membership, of more than 30 seconds’ worth of “Folsom Prison Blues” (it’s for a lesson plan on violent song lyrics), and my computer has been channelling the Man in Black. Next thing I know, it’s going to tell me it shot a man in Reno.

  3. OK, now things are REALLY going bad. First, my anti-virus software interrupts to tell me the computer has been invaded, but never fear, the anti-virus software has killed the invader and deleted all affected files.

    Then, almost simultaneously, both Mozilla and MS tell me that there is a serious security problem that requires an immediate update to fix. MS goes so far as to download and install the fix and reboot the computer.

    Now I’m back, but the sidebar on the right is missing altogether rather than just seriously out of date. That’s exactly what happened just before this blog went blotto last week. I’ll be reloading and seeing what happens, but if you don’t hear from me again, send out a search party.

  4. Ah, things are much better now. The sidebar is functioning as it should. I plan to open a bottle with Andrew. Meanwhile, I’ll be looking to see whenter Pants has ideas about where to find Cash.

  5. folsom prison blues has been on my to-get list for a while. You could also teach Mustang Sally. It has a line in there about “get my shotgun, because if I can’t have you, no body will.” I remember hearing a version on a jazz radio station sung by Lou Rawls.

    It sticks in my mind because somebody called in to complain. You know the world is changing when an african-american muslim DJ, plays a song sung by an african-american, on a non-profit radio station, specializing in a music genre (jazz) largely formed by a marginalized minority, the station owned by an historically black college, and a women calls in to complain about violent song lyrics. There wasn’t a white, protestant male to be found anywhere in the scenario.

  6. I got pL’s mp3, too late for my regular-term class, but in time to use for the other class I’m teaching, which is on a shortened schedule that started later in the term.

    Meanwhile, even without Cash, the class went well, with “Goodbye Earl,” “I Shot the Sheriff,” and the final scene from Carmen. Great discussion of what level of violence is acceptable in what situation, what might be considered redeeming factors, whether gender is (or should be) a factor, and so forth.

    What was interesting was how many of my students could relate to Carmen because of having had a boyfriend like that. Yikes.

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