Doughballs and Dimples: Justin on Townie Style

by Chuk Kittredge

"Bill's Pizza?" they said. "Where's Bill's Pizza?" I looked back at them in horror. Where's Bill's Pizza indeed. But they were freshmen. I couldn't hold it against them. What would they know of the thin crust, thick grease and full flavor of a Bill's Pizza? What would they know of those cold winter nights when I worked delivery -three years in a row- nights where it took me three double espressos, two packs of smokes and a spare pair of underwear just to make it through my shift.

"Wait, where are you taking us?" the tall one cooed, in that cute Russian accent. "Who are you?" I paused. To the depths of sin, lasses, I thought to myself. To a townie. To a man named Justin, who would shock them, woo them, and strip away their youthful ideals. To the best pizza-maker this side of the Cascade Range.

The first time I met him, I was kickin' back after a long night of delivery, about to light me up a spliff, and here was this kid reading Kierkegaard across the table from me. "Want some of this, dude?" I grunted. Down came Fear and Trembling. Facing me was a slim, pensive townie, his visage creased in deep thought. "No thank you. I prefer to expand my mind through more traditional ways, such as good philosophical literature". Well, well, I thought to myself - I'll set this punk townie to rights here and now. But alas, such bravado was not to be on that fateful eve. He whupped up on me on American politics. I switched to Renaissance music. He informed that Mozart had died during the 8th bar of Lacrymosa, not the 6th. Grasping for straws, I asked him his opinions about the larger social implications of the Tevershall coal mining industry and D.H. Lawrence's anachronistic views in the face of social progress. After polishing off a discourse on the wheelchair-in-the-woods chapter, I crawled home to my dorm, with - I'm not shittin' you - a sickness unto death. I had been bested in single combat by a townie. And he hadn't even broken a sweat. After that, it was the old kid gloves treatment for Justin. And whenever someone asked me a question I couldn't answer, I'd scurry over to Bill's, where Justin would tell me just exactly what was what.

Now, as we entered Bill's and saw Justin's smiling face, saw his long, artistic fingers spinning pizza dough and slapping down pepperoni, I knew what was going to happen. He'd open the vaults of his considerable knowledge, dust off several tomes of his own original theses, and they'd be shocked and amazed, as I once had. But the funniest thing happened - they started flirting with him. I mean, we hadn't been there thirty seconds before the tall one was asking him out for coffee Saturday. The short one, not to be outdone, had him write his number on her thigh, where she'd "see it the next time [she] was all alone". I mean, these were the same girls who had laughed uproariously when I told them that I, yes I, was the style editor for the Carl. "Oh", they had chimed in unison, "we thought you'd be a little more, you know, rugged". But here Justin had them behind the counter 'trying on some aprons' for God's sake. So I sat there and watched them flirt and took pictures and did the whole strait-laced reporter thing while these two clueless freshmen hit on my boy. I mean, it was just ridiculous.

By the time he kicked them out with a kiss and a pinch apiece, I had ordered a large pepperoni and we got down to the meat of the issue: Justin's style. He thought for a minute. Lit up a Benson and Hedges.

"I don't really have a style. I'm a townie. We're too heterogeneous to have one single style. I'd say I'm more pretentious than most college students, probably because my mom teaches at Olaf. Frankly, I like Carleton students - they're intelligent, dynamic people. But they're often high-maintenance, high-strung types who are essentially uniform. Seems to me like the Carleton and Olaf aesthetics are blurred of late - probably because there's more and more money coming in to Carleton. Basically, kids - grunge is out." That was it. I begged him for more. He paused. I waited, fingers crossed. "Oh, yeah. In terms of clothing - its not in the label - its in the fit". That was it. I sighed, packed up the dictaphone, shook his flour-coated hand, and said my goodbyes to Justin. I knew his words would stick with me, and a deeper meaning would spring unexpected from them some months down the road. I knew I'd see his quiet face again when I needed answers the most. And I knew, dammit, that next time I wasn't bringing any girls with me. Friggin' townies all up in my game.