In New York for the UN General Assembly, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro had to eat pizza on the sidewalk because he hasn’t been vaccinated….
Jair Bolsonaro was in a good mood.
As he had expected, his speech to the UN had been a huge success. World leaders had been stunned into admiring silence, too awestruck even to applaud as he explained to them that Covid was a hoax, that global warming was just a spell of good weather and that cutting down the rainforests was ridding the world of orcs.
He felt that he had earned himself a night out and, waving away the offer of accompaniment from his bodyguards, the strongman of Brazil headed out to the cool night and the constant hum of the city that never sleeps, possibly because of the constant hum.
At first he was not impressed. Broadway was not all that broad, there was nothing especially big about the apples in the delis, and he was disappointed to learn that the New York Knicks is not a sex shop.
He passed a pizza parlor. The window display was not inviting- under a garish yellow strip light was what looked like a beige toilet-seat cover smothered in melted zit – but the smell was wonderful. He opened the door and strode toward a table.
“Whoa there, buddy,” said a voice. “You can’t just walk in here and sit down.”
Bolsonaro looked around. Behind the counter was a young man whose name badge said he was Luca and whose tight white t-shirt said he worked out. Bolsonaro glared contemptuously at him.
“I can sit where I like,” he said arrogantly. “I am Jair Bolsonaro.”
Luca raised one eyebrow.
“President of Brazil?” said Bolsonaro, a little less arrogantly.
“Sure you are,” said Luca, “and I’m the Pope’s watchmaker.”
Bolsonaro frowned. “That’s not an actual job,” he said.
“Which is why I’m working in this dump,” said Luca. “Anyway, I ain’t interested in what you do, I just need to know your status.” He pointed to a small sign that read ‘No Dose, No Dish’.
“That’s not very pithy,” said Bolsonaro, despite himself. “It should say ‘No Prick, No Pizza’.”
“You’d think,” said Luca, “but there are some things you can’t say even in New York. Anyhow, show me your proof of vaccine.”
Bolsonaro sneered. “I’m not vaccinated,” he said. “The vaccine is made of magnetized snail ooze, and the CIA use it to -”
“Yadda, yadda, yadda,” said Luca. “Out.”
Bolsonaro was stunned. “You can’t treat me like this,” he snapped. “I am the most powerful man in South America.”
Luca folded his arms, and Bolsonaro noticed how this made his biceps bulge.
“That may be so,” said Luca quietly, “but you ain’t the most powerful man in this room. Trust me on this.”
Bolsonaro turned to storm out, flaring his nostrils furiously, but that flare involved taking in a lungful of pizza aroma. He turned back.
“Can I get one to go?” he asked, sheepishly.
Luca sighed. “Sure,” he said, “but you’ll have to wait outside. What do you want?”
Bolsonaro looked up at the lurid pictures on the menu over Luca’s head. “I’ll have the Hawaiian,” he said, adding, because he felt it was a New York thing to do, “and hold the pineapple.”
Luca sighed again. “One ham pizza, then,” he said. “Now, out.”
Bolsonaro gave him a twenty and stepped outside, where it had begun to rain. He turned up the jacket collar of his expensive suit and stood gloomily for twenty minutes until Luca pushed a cardboard box through a small window. Bolsonaro took it and began to trudge along the street.
The rain got heavier.
Bolsonaro hurried in under an overhang that ran the length of an office building. He took the pizza from its box and put the box on the sidewalk. He sat on it with his back to the wall, resting the pizza on his knees. It’s going to cost a fortune to clean this suit, he thought. He pulled one slice from the wheel and took a bite.
“How you doin’?” said a voice in the darkness.
Bolsonaro looked around in shock. A figure in a hoodie was sitting a few feet away, drinking wine from a bottle in a paper bag. It waved the bottle at him and pointed at the pizza. “Wanna share?”
Bolsonaro found he could only nod. The man scooched over beside him and handed him the paper bag. Bolsonaro tore off half of the pizza and gave it over in return. The man patted him on the knee in thanks.
I’m just going to throw the suit away, thought Bolsonaro.
He sniffed cautiously at the wine. It had a bouquet redolent of cabbage, tear gas and Guinness fart. He took a gulp, and gasped as his mouth filled with the taste of liquid banshee.
He stared morosely into the light reflecting in a street puddle.
“I’m the President of Brazil,” he muttered.
“Whatever,” said his new friend.