In the low lit, cozy dining space of Piccolo on Middle Street, I approached the Almighty Creator of Life. We were meeting for dinner. He sat in heavenly splendor, surrounded by swirling immaculate robes of gossamer thread. As I sat, some of His robes flew in my face and I had to politely bat them away. The One True Power stifled a grin.
“God,” I said.
“I prefer Yahweh…” He said, crossing His arms.
“My humblest apologies,” I said. “Yahweh I—“
“I prefer Allah,” He said, chuckling. The Ambrosial Creator of the Universe reached across the small wooden table and squeezed my hand. He patted it twice more for good measure before picking up a menu and ignoring me entirely.
“I can’t thank you enough for joining me here,” I said, lacing my hands in supplication. “I just had one question and you’re the only person… uhhh… the only being who I trust to give me true clarity.”
He was still looking at the menu. I paused, uncomfortably aware of the scraping of knives and forks of the two tables next to us. With extreme languor the Supreme Being lowered his menu so that his cosmically radiant eyes could be seen over the top. His wizened all-knowing lids hung over irises of infinite depth — two swirling convex glimmers of unlimited creation and a kinda dick-ish glower.
“Everybody has a question,” said the Creator. “And don’t pray like that. It’s embarrassing.” He tossed his menu on the wooden table and scooted his chair — causing it to honk loudly against the floor — and crossed his legs.
“Everybody just has one question and it’s never the one they should be asking. ‘What’s the meaning of life?’ That’s for you to decide. ‘How much time do I have left?’ Five years, now what? ‘What happens after death?’ Yadda yadda yadda…”
The King of Kings waved his radiant hand and inadvertently hit a gnat into his water.
“I damn it,” he said, fishing the gnat out with his pinky.
“Is it still OK if I ask one?” I said. The One True Authority raised his eyebrows and blew out a sigh.
“Yeah,” He said. “Yeah… sure. And FYI, I’ve chosen not to read your intentions. Even I need a surprise every once in a while.”
I nodded. I’d been thinking about my question for a while. And you could say I was more than surprised when the Highest Power and Omnipotent Consciousness actually answered my texts asking Him to grab a bite. I’d assumed He’d be harder to pin down.
“Is the most important aspect of human life,” I said. “Is it actually death?”
God flicked the gnat from His finger and turned to look at me. Subtle surprise painted His divine countenance, like I’d slipped a curveball by Him — I have to admit I was proud about that. It’s probably pretty hard to surprise the Alpha and the Omega.
“What do you…” the Creator said. “What do you mean? Death?”
“Yeah,” I said. “I mean when you think about it, death—“
“You guys… uh… know what you’d like?” The chipper server said. Of course she’d come right when I was talking about death and so she wore that awkward look of trying not to acknowledge she’d just heard what we were talking about.
“Haha,” said the Source of All Holy Light, aiming His speech at the server. “Our conversation was getting a little heavy there.” He lightly squeezed her elbow and eased the mood considerably. The server, violently red hair in a pony tail behind a face that was maybe thirty percent teeth and twenty percent eyes, nodded and smiled, shifting the ratio to sixty ten.
“So… who wants to go first?”
“I’ll have a Grolsch and the quinoa salad and he’ll have the…” the Transmundane Emperor glanced over at me for a second. “He’ll have the pork chop.”
I was actually going to have the lamb neck ragu, but I got the feeling that the Divine Consciousness was not in a great mood.
Pertly nodding, the server left us. I couldn’t help but glance at her jean-hugged butt; it was nice.
“But anyway,” I said.
“Go on,” interrupted the Celestial Divinity. His brow had definitely lowered a bit. He loudly slurped His water as I began.
“OK,” I said. “Well, to explain. Every day, for me, has more poignancy because I know that some day I will not be able to do what I’m doing because I will be no more. Everything I do. Brushing my teeth, sitting in traffic, even taking a morning sh… stop in the bathroom. All those things will eventually disappear when I die. So they’re all special — holy even — just by virtue of me being able to do them.”
An egret — from out of nowhere — lit on Father Creation’s outstretched arm. He stroked its long, shapely neck. He motioned me to continue.
“What I mean to say is, my life has more meaning because it actually ends. If I knew I was going to live forever, then, sure, at first that would be nice, I think. But then you can do anything forever. Nothing has meaning anymore. I could practice yo-yo or karate or even have sex for as many years as it takes me to be completely and utterly sick of them, and I'll still have just as much time as ever. With limitless time everything becomes, essentially, boring.
“Like, even if the universe didn’t end when all the stars burn out — being stuck alive and alone in a pitch black dead universe for all eternity sounds like unimaginable torture — even if we found some loophole or parallel universe so that we lived with other people on a vibrant planet. Nothing could keep its luster for eternity. Even love, I think, would become stale. Being with the same person for seventy years is long. But being together with that person for 10,000? 10,000,000,000? Those numbers are drops in eternity’s ocean.
“It’s the lack of time that makes things important. Even creating living beings, creating planets, creating infinite universes would become drudgery if we—”
The Holy Trinity slammed His enigmatic fist upon the table, rattling the water cups. The egret flew up into the rafters.
“You know not of what you speak!” He thundered.
His form expanded from within and without, growing a thousand fold in seconds. His inconceivable chest puffed out like a mating bullfrog. Clutching me by my very soul, the Corporeal Manifestation of the Infinite pulled me high above.
Out and out we soared, the earth fleeing from us like a blue softball, lustily hurled. The stars, limitless spangles of nuclear light, spread before us, engulfing vision before condensing again into brilliant galaxies. Further we sped, beyond the pale wisps of dying star clusters and rushing vortices of colliding nebulae, until, at last, I beheld, in my puny insignificance, the sweeping gestalt of creation.
“You call that boring?” the Creator asked. He shook my shoulders and slapped my face. “Huh?!”
I seemed to have hit a nerve.
“N-no,” I said. “I mean… It looks pretty cool.”
“It is SUPER FUCKING COOL,” said the One and Only. “Check this out,” He said, sweeping us back inward. He showed me civilizations and existences unseen by mortal man. We sped over a lush sylvan playground of a world where fur-covered bears serenely hovered over beings slumbering in everlasting peace. Another planet contained millions of rolling heads named Thaddeus, spinning and bumping into each other, all apologizing at once. Another world just had a ton of trombones stacked in a dusty pile and like eight vintage Playboys; the immortal consciousness quickly zoomed on from that one. World after world: advanced civilizations of harmonizing machines, argon breathing, sentient clouds, insectoid men living inside insectoid women. He showed me countless worlds, each unique in their splendor. And then we stopped.
“So,” said the Only Power. “You… you get it?”
“I get it,” I said. “But I still think it would get boring after… well, eternity.”
His shoulders slumped and we were back at the table. The egret had its long beak down the neck of the Almighty’s Grolsch.
“Yeah…” He said.
There was another extended, uncomfortable pause in which the Ineffable Frontispiece on the Almanac of Creation pouted and watched traffic out the window.
“Why don’t you just become mortal?” I asked. “Or maybe just impose a time limit on yourself? Un-create yourself?”
The All-Knowing-One gave me a smirk.
“Yeah,” He said, rolling His eyes. “Yeah sure… The oldest and most enduring consciousness in the cosmos should commit suicide. Sweet idea.”
“No…” I said. But of course He was right.
Without notice, He rose, taking a second to free His voluminous robe from a snag in the wooden chair. “You got any more questions? No? Good. Enjoy your meal. I know you will.”
I watched Him go. He looked pretty put out. I thought about saying something to comfort Him, but nothing really seemed appropriate. Plus, He probably knew what I would have tried to say anyway.
At the door, the Apex of All Consciousness turned and caught my eye.
“Thanks,” He said. “Thanks for the reminder! Ass.” The door rattled as He slammed it.
“Would you two like…” said the server, rounding the corner. She stood at a loss.
“No I think we’re good,” I said. My pork chop was still steaming and juicy. The Almighty's salad hadn't been touched. “This looks delicious,” I said. She nodded and turned to leave.
“Actually,” I said. “What are you doing this weekend?”
“Um,” she said, making the abrupt switch between professional and personal mode. “Well I’m working both days. So I don’t have a ton of time.”
I smiled at her and she smiled back: an enormous smile. It was so genuine. I liked it.
“Perfect,” I said.
Beautiful, carefully portioned, delicious dishes await. I started with a salumi plate featuring traditionally, deliciously smoked Italian meats. Tasty indeed. As an entrée I had a lamb neck ragu over, what I think was, papardelle (they change the menu often — which is a fantastic thing — and I forgot to write down what exactly the name of my dish was…). Nomenclature notwithstanding, the meat was robust and tender and the noodles were obviously homemade — meaning more flavor and satisfying texture. Follow that up with a dessert of what appeared to be a gourmet elephant ear — like the kind you’d find at the circus or a street fair — filled with hints of orange zest and other spices, all topped with confectioners sugar. Cup of coffee to finish. Good GRACIOUS.
$$$, but every single dollar sign is worth it. This is not “value portioned” food. This is food where you can have an appetizer, entrée and dessert and not feel like Kuato’s Brother in Total Recall. For a date or special occasion, it is worth every lira.
Un Piccolo Posto
Its size might be one of my favorite aspects. The name, Piccolo, means “small” in Italian and the space itself delivers on that promise. While not feeling cramped in the least, it feels cozy in all the best ways. With space for probably ~25 people, maybe less, you’ll feel like you’re being served in someone’s nicely decorated living room. Really a treat.
Professional. My water glass was never empty. This is the sign of a legit spot, for me, because I cannot help but drink water that’s in front of me. Seriously, I down it faster than teenagers at an EDM concert. This makes me the bane of all servers because my water glass is almost constantly on empty. However, this unintentional test often separates the pros from the dilettantes. And the service staff at Piccolo kept my water tip topped. Let that also tell you everything you need to know about the pace of our meal and the availability of our server whenever we were looking for her.
EAT OR SKIP:
To keep it brief, Piccolo prepares fantastic, authentic Italian cuisine — that means more than just pasta. Go there for a special meal.
111 Middle Street