It’s our first night together as a couple in Brooklyn and you’re belting out the theme song to the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. Till this day, it’s probably hands down our favorite TMNT film to be made—not that crappy Michael Bay-produced rebooted one where the turtles don’t even look like turtles but more like creatures from a drunken nightmare that you can’t wake up from.
Even though you only know the very beginning of the theme song–heroes in a half shell turtle powerrrr—it doesn’t bother me. Not one bit. In fact, I find it kinda funny and join along, making sure to harmonize with your off-key vocals, mostly because I don’t want to disrupt the radness of the moment since I know these moments don’t come too often these days ever since we both got grownup jobs in the city making it that much harder to find time for one another. Still—we try.
After 20 minutes, you flop down on the futon next to me and use my sleeve to wipe the sweat up from your forehead. We wonder what we should have for dinner—the I-don’t-knows-whatever-you-wants volleying back-and-forth like an intense, hangry tennis match. Suddenly, you get the idea that we should totally recreate one of the pizzas that the turtles ordered, as it’s always been a dream of yours even though you’re severely lactose intolerant and this dream could be painful. You then share that on episode 83 of their critically acclaimed cartoon show—the episode with Slash the evil turtle from Dimension X—the turtles get the most badass pizza ever. When I ask what you’re talking about, you smirk and pull up a picture on your phone, holding in a giggle as I get a good look at the iconic jelly bean sausage cheese pizza: the red green blue candies mixed with turkey sausage instantly making my taste buds revolt; A food marriage—in my mind—quickly destined for divorce, but I entertain the idea.
I ask you how we’re gonna make this pizza, especially since our apartment currently has no oven—a weird quirk about living in an older New York building, apparently. Yet—you’re undeterred—saying it’s not a problem—as we have a toaster oven, English muffins, cheese, sausage, basically everything. All that’s missing are the jelly beans. Must I remind you—you say—that I’m the queen at modifying recipes?
I then remember last Thanksgiving and how we waited too long to book tickets to Spain so we could see your mom and the plane prices ended up being crazy expensive. Stuck with no place to go, we were ill-prepared to handle the responsibility of making a full blown turkey dinner so you got the brilliant idea that we could use the turkey meat from some leftover Lunchables in the fridge and it ended up being one of the best meals ever. Guy Fieri woulda been proud to welcome us to Flavortown, most likely making us the co-mayors for a day.
I go along with your plan and head to the nearest corner store to procure the jelly beans: the last remaining topping to fulfill this weird craving. I grab the family size bag knowing that, with our luck, there’s a chance we could get too excited and accidentally rip the bag open forcing all the jellies to go everywhere and we can’t afford to be all outta jelly beans in the middle of a food-spiration. That would be a tragedy.
Back home with the remaining goods, we construct our mini monstrosities, continuing to sing teenage.mutant.nin-ja.turretlesss out loud. After what feels like an eternity, the toaster oven dings and our pizzas are done.
Without waiting for them to cool off—a rookie mistake–we dive straight in, tongues capturing the steaming hot cheddar and jelly beans, the mixture instantly cementing up—burning, sticking to the roof of our mouths, causing us to run around like two doofuses, cats judging us, until we take turns chugging water from the kitchen sink. We crash on the floor—blisters already forming—terrified to take another bite, the taste of vegan cheese and artificial sweetener strongly clashing with one another: an epic battle similar to Shredder and Splinter facing off in Times Square.
We laugh and throw the pizzas away, agreeing never to speak of this again but not before taking a flick for social media. Later that night, all of our friends comment on the picture saying how cool that looks, that it was a great idea, how genius, 10/10 y’all…blahblahblah!
If only they knew how much of a couple of fraudulent TMNT enthusiasts we really were that night. We’d never live it down.
Shawn Berman runs The Daily Drunk. His recent work appears or is forthcoming in Hobart, Rejection Letters, and No Contact. Follow him on Twitter @sbb_writer