Better Make That to Go

Pizza boxes were piled everywhere, with meat and veggie pieces spread across the feeder tray of the big C&P. It was after 1 a.m., and things were looking a bit grim as Mary and Shop Boy crammed for another big test. How in the world would we pull this one off?

See, it’s already been a busy semester at Typecast Press, what with learning the ins and outs, pushes and pulls, vital signs and settings of the Heidelberg windmill. (It’s probably best simply to label that one Continuing Ed.) Then there’s the normal, heavy letterpress courseload. And the required reading and course materials. Cha-ching! Ouch. As a student of letterpress, you expect some of that.

But this one was not on the syllabus: Baltimore magazine was offering a repeat appearance in this season’s holiday dining edition. Yes!

We’d donate party favors, menus, napkins, coasters and other fun printed items to decorate an upscale pizza party. Cool!

Typecast Press: “Count us in. When do you need the materials?”

Baltimore magazine: “How’s now sound?”

Or words to that effect.

Shop Boy muffled a scream.

Faced with such a daunting test, we did what any college student would do: binge drinking.

Sort of, anyways.

True story: As mentioned before in this space, Shop Boy’s alter ego was a science major for two years at the University of Rhode Island with a minor emphasis on history and Spanish. (Mary would tell you that Shop Boy’s only playing dumb. But we know better, don’t we?) One night before my final Spanish exam — Professor Navazquez spoke no English in class — Science Boy became bored with studying and instead decided to try grain alcohol for the first time.


The lecture hall was a 15-minute walk from the dorm. I awoke 10 minutes before the exam would start and staggered across the campus, grabbed my copy of the test and took the seat closest to the window, huffing and puffing the late-autumn air to keep from … you get the picture. Fifteen minutes later, I handed in my test and ran to the restroom.

I had barely sobered up by the next day — when my perfect exam score was posted. You should have seen Professor Navazquez’s face. I thought he was actually gonna speak English or something for a minute there, like “How in the world …?”

Hey, I’m not necessarily proud of this … just telling a story, you know?

Which is what Shop Boy does. A business teacher in high school once pulled me aside after an essay exam and told me I should be a writer — I’d gotten the whole concept wrong … but he said it was such entertaining fiction that he’d given me a C. Well, you can blame him for this mess of a blog because, after four rather dull semesters of chemistry, botany, zoology (I did love that), physics and math, I was looking for something writer-ish that was more fun and potentially lucrative than becoming a science lab tech. So I picked journalism?!?!

Maybe that perfect score was a fluke after all.

I certainly did have all of the toughest course requirements out of the way. For my final two years, it was nothing but a couple of journalism courses a semester mixed with Spanish and, um, electives like coaching basketball, coaching baseball, officiating football … brutal.


Anyway, Mary and Shop Boy needed to come up with a clever concept for the Baltimore mag pizza party photo shoot, stat, so we could get the designs done, order the paper and get polymer plates made. Only thing to do was head for a brainstorming session at the closest bar, in this case Rocket to Venus. The place is named after a goofball project by three local dudes who were convinced their calling was to put the first man on that planet. Guess they’d heard that women are from there or something.

All except Mary, who apparently hails from the planet Genius.


Shop Boy’s head was spinning before the first sip of a martini, because Mary was on fire. She came up with ideas for coasters, menus, napkins, a placemat, a pizza puzzle and on and on. Shop Boy smartly just kept nodding in approval as she went.

Then we had a second cocktail to celebrate Mary’s brilliance — and the fact that 1 percent of the assignment was complete.

Now all we had to do was produce all these great pieces. Like, manana.

Or as Professor Navazquez might have said: “Nooooo!”

(That’s Spanish for “Noooo!”)

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