As I walk back to our apartment down Ibn Gvirol street, making my way from the Reading parking lot to Rabin Square, I pass the HaSovel pizzeria. HaSovel, roughly translated, means “The Sufferer” or “The One Who Suffers”.
It is usually closed when I pass by since he does not keep regular hours. On a good day, HaSovel opens at around 1 AM, and closes at five in the morning. That’s HaSovel. He doesn’t give a fuck.
There used to be a large neon-lit sign above the little corridor that is his pizzeria. Of course, it didn’t say “HaSovel”, or even depict a pizza. Instead, it was a black silhouette of a chimera-like creature with the head of a dog at one end and the head of a cat at the other. That’s HaSovel. Fuck you.
He took it down a few months ago, and when I saw that all that was left of the chimera-sign was a naked wall of flickering fluorescent lights unceremoniously strung together, I rushed to the neighboring business and asked, frantically, if HaSovel closed shop.
“No,” they said. “Why would you think that?”
“He took the sign down..!”
“Sometimes he takes the sign down!”
That’s HaSovel. Fuck signs.
It is close to 3 AM. I cross the street and make my way towards the counter.
The place is packed. Under harsh, bright lights a crowd of teenagers emanates a hostile, tense sense of immanent violence that can only be generated by the singular cocktail of sweatpants, cheap cologne and gelled hair with stiff peaks that shares the texture, grandeur and flakes of a cum-stained gym sock.
There are only two options on the non-existent menu. You either get a slice with egg (hardboiled), or without. Don’t like the topping? Fuck you. This is HaSovel.
I order a plain slice, but warn him that I only have large bills. “Do you have change?” I ask, politely.
“Hey, what the fuck do you think this place is?” The small, gaunt man behind the counter – HaSovel himself! - asks me through clenched teeth and hollow cheeks. “A drug station? Give me the money, take your fucking pizza, take your fucking change and fucking leave.” He waves a lukewarm pizza slice in my general direction, held between a dirty thumb and a dirty paper napkin. I grab it and scramble to catch the coins he dumps into my other hand.
“Thanks!” I say as I shove my wallet back into my pocket.
“Get the fuck outta here.”
As I continue walking down the street I bite into the slice and taste the MSG, garlic powder, thin crust and cheap tomato paste. Heaven.