IT STARTED, as it often does, with an online order of a Domino's Chicken Specialty.
First, there were important questions to solve before punching in the credit card information: Do I want the jalapeños and pineapple on the Chicken Specialty "normal," "light," or "none"? I went with "normal," because I had zero idea of what a normal presentation of jalapeños and pineapple was. Also, there wasn't a way to get them extra. Note to Domino's: We always want things extra.
I added barbecue sauce onto my Pizza Profile because we'd long since passed the point where this was Italian. I was forced to add a second Chicken Specialty because Domino's won't let you use the $5.99-each deal unless you get two of their wondrous specialities. So, there I was, on the Domino's pizza tracker page.
Quick aside: Domino's online ordering system is the Turbo Tax of pizza delivery. By the time I hit the epic-badass pizza tracker screen, I was expecting it to congratulate me on the standard mozzarella deduction.
Anyway, there I was, watching the online ordering system tell me "Jonathan4354" put my not-pizza in the oven at 9:07 p.m. I'm assuming it meant an AOL chat room user was cooking my pizza. I also selected the feedback option, which has preselected motivational phrases, "Treat my order like it's the most important one in the world."
We'll see, Domino's. WE'LL SEE.
It came swiftly. As in: a little too swiftly to be a cooked chicken dish. It came so fast the pizza guy had to call twice (I thought it was a wrong number) and then texted "Domino's here" because we live in the age of Domino's texting you.
It came in these awesome little cardboard sleeves that open almost magically, with a sense of adventure usually reserved for a treasure chest or a paternity test. There was a crescendo of music, and golden light poured out.
The treasure was, it turns out, not a pizza at all. It was chicken nuggets covered in pizza toppings. One with jalapeño-pineapple and cheese, and one with bacon, tomato, cheese -- with ranch underneath the cheese. And a generous barbecue sauce tub.
The jalapeño was actually spicy, which was a good start. The barbecue sauce helped. The bacon -- hang on, I think it was Canadian bacon -- came with what looked the sad grandpa-old tomatoes (not sure what I expected). The bacon Chicken Specialty also had a weird-ass ranch that made the Lady of the House cringe. The chicken was so white-meat chickeny that I felt like Domino's was politically compensating. Like, someone was bracing my arm and screaming: "YOU LIKE YOUR WHITE MEAT CHICKEN? DO YOU?!?"
The chicken tasted so much like school cafeteria that I suddenly was wearing a No Fear T-shirt. It was like elegant elementary school food. As if the menu, maybe from a kid chef, would be:
Delicately fried all-white-meat chicken, blistered jalapeños of the can, Maui pineapple, melted Monterey jack, drizzle of house-made marinara, quenelle of guilt
Fried Chicken, Nuggets, II Delicately fried all-white-meat chicken, crisp Canadian bacon, saute of tomatoes, melted Monterey jack, drizzle of house-made marinara, existential questions
All that said, they were both better than an actual Domino's pizza. The jalapeño one would ultimately disappear later that night.
The shame spiral set in at 9:34 a.m., according to my own internal Pizza Profile, which I tracked in real time via the Why Did I Do This app.