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the black cocaine

My Business Partner, Neil Patrick Harris.

August 22nd, 2010

doctor stupendous

"acting."

Rarely can a man reach the end of his life and be satisfied, looking back upon the landscapes, the ups and downs, the loves and losses, without having been, at some moment in that careening cinematic, his own employer. A few months ago I caught the business itch. I caught it bad. I got the indecipherably illogical need to take upon myself a large amount of responsibility and hardship that, in exchange for such a meager payoff, usually destroys, or at best permanently scars, the souls of so many failed business owners, and quite a number of successful ones. Of course, being not completely out of my mind, I decided I must have a business partner, and a reliable one. So there I was, sitting at home on my oversized purple leather easy chair, thumbing through my rolodex, when I suddenly got a fateful call on the Golden Phone. It was none other than my old friend, Neil Patrick Harris.

You may have heard of this character. Neil Patrick Harris is that guy who played the kid doctor on television. He was also the actor who discovered that the giant ugly brain bug was afraid in Stormship Troopers. More recently, he snubbed a plan to aid the starving homeless in order to join a club of ridiculous evil villains as Dr. Horrible. No, I’m not talking about Doogie Howser here. That was a different horrible doctor. Seriously, it would be horrible to have a kid as your doctor. I don’t know what I would do. Probably sue somebody. I’m being honest. That idea sucks.

Anyway, it was by pure and beautiful kismet that the phone rang at that moment. “Yo, Chuck,” said Neil Patrick Harris. “What’s up old buddy?””Not much, Neil Patrick Harris,” I said, “just sitting here at my desk looking through my rolodex. I’m trying to start a business. What about you?”

“What a strange coincidence,” replied Neil Patrick Harris, “I was just calling you to tell you how much I would love it if there was a pizza shop on the first floor of my apartment building, because I am super hungry for pizza right now! I am sitting here in sheer disbelief that some dumbass has not even thought to open one here. We should start one!”

“Wow, that is a coincidence,” I said. “Do you have any business experience?”

“No,” he said, chewing on a piece of food. “Let’s do this. Come over.”

“Where do you live again, Neil Patrick Harris?” I asked.

“You know the giant golden hand downtown holding up that humungous ruby-encrusted egg?

“”Yeah.”

“In the egg. Call me when you get here.”

Within a few days we had a location. Neil Patrick Harris is a remarkably resourceful person when it comes to convincing city officials to go along with his ideas. A storefront out on the main stretch of the arts district became our new shop, and with my money and NPH’s aggressive wit, we had a full working kitchen up in order within 48 hours of securing the spot. “Now all we need, Chuck,” he said to me, “is a name.” He was right. In a business like a pizza shop, the name is what gets people in the door. The food is what keeps them coming back.

“You know, Neil Patrick Harris, I hadn’t really thought about this yet. What about Neil Patrick Harris and Chuck’s Famous Pies? Or what about-”

“Pizza Dick,” said Neil Patrick Harris.

“What?” I asked.

“The shop is called Pizza Dick,” he said.

“Are you sure?” I asked.

“Yes.”

So began the pizza parlor known as Pizza Dick. I never questioned the name at first, but business was pretty poor, and we hadn’t even sold 10 pizzas in the first week, despite the fact that Neil Patrick Harris was standing out front the whole time, saying “Hey, I’m Doogie Howser, come to my pizza shop you blowhards. Come on!” I confronted him about it. “What’s the deal with the name,” I asked. “I mean I’m just shooting in the dark, here, but it doesn’t really… grab me. What does it mean?” Neil Patrick Harris looked at me like a velociraptor. “Listen, Chuck,” he said, “it’s simple. It’s from this one time when I ate so much pizza that I was unable to get it up with my girlfriend. I was too full to fuck. I had Pizza Dick. I want everyone to be able to eat so much pizza that they are too full to fuck. And I want to sell them that pizza. Pizza Dick.”

“But aren’t you gay?” I asked.

“Yes.”

“I think we need a slogan,” I suggested.

Neil Patrick Harris thought for a moment. “You’re right,” he said. “A slogan is exactly what we need.”

“What about…”

“Pizza Dick. Suck It.” he said.

I hesitated to agree, but this is Neil Patrick Harris we’re talking about.

As you might imagine, business did not immediately pick up. Neil Patrick Harris even stood outside and handed out fliers. I will grant that the fliers were pretty ingenious. It consisted of two pizzas connected to a foil-lined cardboard tube of pizza cheese. The slogan worked into the flier design, too, because if you followed the directions, “Suck It,” and put the tip of the flier in your mouth and squeezed the pizzas, you got a mouth full of hot pizza cheese. I approached him as he was showing the flier to a pair of 14-year olds. “See, kids,” he demonstrated, “the cheese gets hard when it cools down so you have to rub it a lot in your hands to warm it up. Like this.” I touched his shoulder to get him to stop what he was about to do.

“Neil Patrick Harris,” I said, “I think we need to have a talk.”

“You’re right, Chuck,” he said. “Meet me in my office.”

“Speaking of which, when do I get my own office?” I asked.

“When you’re Neil Patrick Fucking Harris,” he said.

Twenty minutes later, I met him in his office on the top floor of the building. As I walked in, he was on his cell phone, feet propped up on the desk, smoking a cigarette. I watched sadly as he tried to shove a burrito into his mouth at the same time as he was smoking and talking, and it didn’t really work, but it looked kind of funny.”What’s so funny, Chuck?” asked Neil Patrick Harris.”Nothing. Just the way you’re trying to smoke, talk and eat at the same time. I thought it was funny,” I said.

“It fucking isn’t,” he said. “What’s funny is our profit margin. Have you looked at this paperwork?” he asked as he pointed to a pink sheet of printer paper.

“I am the one who collated the data, yes, I have seen our profits. They are pretty slim. That is what I wanted to discuss with you,” I said.

“What we have, Chuck,” he began, “is a solid business model, an attention-grabbing name, a catchy slogan, and ingenious promotional materials. What we’re lacking? Good pizza. Our pizza sucks. It tastes like Luke Skywalker just got done eating out Princess Leia on Tatooine, got all that sweaty Romulan juice on his face and kissed his cat in the asshole, which then got eaten by a fifty foot shark, and shit out and puked up all over ancient Egypt, sat around for a few thousand years until it was mummified ancient puked up shit cat, scraped off the pyramid and shipped directly to our shop.” He then stared at me unwaveringly as he took three drags from his cigarette. “Do you know what that tastes like?”

“No,” I replied.

“It tastes like garbage, trust me. What we need is a new chef,” he said.

“No,” I interjected, feeling a wash of courage take hold. “It doesn’t taste anything like that, actually. It tastes good. I like it. It’s actually some of the best pizza I’ve ever had. I would even call it delicious. No, Neil Patrick Harris, the problem isn’t the pizza at all. The problem, frankly, is you. The name of the shop sucks, the slogan is horrible, and the fliers are sexually suggestive and probably illegal. This business is failing because you are a terrible businessman.” I began to sweat. I could feel the laser-like gaze trace the lines of my trembling face. I felt a showdown was imminent.

To my surprise, he calmly put out his cigarette, put down the burrito, closed the cell phone, stood up, straightened his shirt, and cleared his throat. “Chuck,” he said, “Chuck, Chuck, Chuck… old friend. Buddy. Listen. I know. This is a stressful venture we’ve thrown ourselves into. It’s natural to freak out like this. It’s ok. I understand. Listen. Let’s take a little break, to put this all in perspective. We’ll close the shop, go out for some food, hire some hookers and get a hotel. Come on.”

I was taken aback. I wasn’t sure what to say. I agreed. That night, we went out to an Egyptian pizza joint, and had some of the best pizza in town. When I was full, he insisted on ordering more. And more still. He was behaving so generously, paying for everything. I began to relax a little. After eating about four pizzas apiece, we called the hookers, and booked a room at the Ritz-Carlton downtown. “Neil Patrick Harris,” I asked, “aren’t we going to grab some beer and cocaine?”

“No,” he said. “We have to open the shop early in the morning. We want to feel our best.”

I agreed. So, I went to my room at the Ritz, turned on the television, and ordered some porn. A half hour later, the hooker showed up. She was stunning for a prostitute. I mean, she looked like a model. “Wow,” I said. “Neil Patrick Harris doesn’t fuck around.” “No he doesn’t, baby,” she replied. She said her name was Eufrati, and she had an absolutely perfect body that just sent my head spinning. But when she unzipped my pants, something was wrong. There was no evidence I was even enjoying myself. “What’s wrong, baby?” she asked. “Need a little help?” She proceeded to offer said help, but nothing. I was confused. And startled. What was happening to me? “I… I don’t know what’s wrong,” I said.”Are you drunk?” she asked.”No.””Been doing blow?””Nope. Nothing. I haven’t had anything but… but… oh god.”

Just then the door burst open with a crack, and there standing in the hallway was Neil Patrick Harris, wearing nothing below the waist, his limp junk dangling like a dead worm. Beside him was an equally beautiful prostitute, naked, and giggling profusely. Immediately Neil Patrick Harris, his nostrils coated in fine white powder, and whiskey on his breath, shot out his arm, pointed directly at my face, smiled his trademark smile and shouted, at the top of his lungs:

“PIZZA DICK!”

I realized then that our mistake had been neither the name of the shop, nor the slogan, nor even the pizza itself. No, the mistake had been our entire lives.

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