I'm looking to make a deal, to partner with the right Shark, to take my company to the next level and to put the past behind me.
  1. Just outside the giant doors, I ask the producer for a glass of water.
    It's clear I'm nervous but I can't let the Sharks know that. Especially Kevin.
  2. The doors begin to open.
    I sneak a peak as they do. The Sharks shift in their seats. I see a make-up person swiftly run from Cuban's side. He seems freshly powdered.
  3. I begin the walk down the corridor.
    "I am an orca," I say to myself over and over. You see, this is my mantra. You see, because orcas are the only known natural predator to sharks. You see, I am an orca.
  4. I notice Lori turns away from Kevin.
    It's clear something has just transpired between them. Perhaps something to do with the last deal. The people before me. Their product, a spicy eye drop called "Aye-ah-eye." Nice people. Great packaging.
  5. I steady myself. All eyes are on me.
    I glance at Cuban. His face is now blotchy and moist. Man, this guy can sweat.
  6. I begin my pitch.
    "Sharks, today I am here asking for $75,000 for a 10% stake in my company... I don't know if you're like me, but if you are, you wish everything was pizza. Well now it is."
  7. A giant curtain falls, revealing my display.
    A professional (I'm talking full color) sign proclaiming, "Now it's Pizza," and a spinning cardboard pizza, showcasing several dozen items enclosed in pizzas. (My branding is sick.) I hand 5 of the samples to the Sharks.
  8. I finish strong.
    "...'Now it's pizza!' is the wave of the future. But it's now. And it is pizza!"
  9. Cuban closes the leather notebook in his hand.
    His face is an ocean of contempt... and condensation. The powder's not holding.
  10. Cuban says,
    "I'm gonna make this quick. I've been burned before on other now it's pizza ventures, and if there's one thing I don't do, it's make a pizza related mistake twice. I'm out."
  11. This moment shakes me but not the other Sharks.
    They're used to Cuban and his theatrics. And what must be a medical level condition of sweating.
  12. Daymond asks,
    "What are your sales?"
  13. I take a deep breath.
    I am an orca. I am an Orca.
  14. Collected, I answer.
    "Year to date, we have sold $200,000 of product."
  15. The Sharks erupt in whoaaaas.
    Like swoon level whoaaa. Lori is smiling big. She even exchanges a sweet "OH GIRRRL" look with Kevin. It's amazing the bridges my product can rebuild, considering what it destroyed.
  16. Robert asks,
    "Explain to me the process. How are you reaching customers?"
  17. Robert's perfect hair blows in the breeze of the room's aggressive air conditioning.
    The AC is incredibly aggressive. When I first walked in, I wondered if this was intentional; to throw off the people who come into the tank; to keep them on their toes. But now seeing Cuban...
  18. I say,
    "All of our sales thus far have been direct to customer. On our website, you search for an item in our catalog, then we bake it into a pizza. We freeze it and mail it to your door within 2 days, anywhere in the United States."
  19. Kevin leans forward.
    "You know they call me Mr. wonderful..."
  20. I smirk, waiting on the punchline from this bald, entrepreneurial sommelier.
    I've got to admit. This guy is fucking charming.
  21. Kevin continues.
    "...So I'm gonna make you an offer. I'll give you $75,000 for 50%. I see a future here, it involves licensing and cutting our manufacturing costs. Also, I would like to mention Confrerie des Chevaliers du Tastevin."
  22. All the Sharks groan.
    I've got to admit. This feels like a family. The family I'll never know because of the fire.
  23. Daymond and Robert go out.
    Robert mutters that he knows so little about the pizza now industry. Daymond explains it's not an investment for him but that he'll be a customer. He says this as he finishes the last of his "A Sneaker But Now It's Pizza" that I made specially for him.
  24. Lori chimes in.
    "I can tell when something is a hero or a zero......"
  25. There is a very long pause here.
    It's dramatic. Cuban is now just a puddle, his leather notebook floating atop.
  26. Lori continues.
    "...and this is a hero, but it's actually a pizza."
  27. I see Lori means hero like sandwich but it's pizza. It's wordplay.
    I respect Lori even more now. She gets it.
  28. Lori gives me exactly what I'm asking. $75,000 for 10%.
    It all feels slow motion at this point. It feels like bliss. Like how life was before the fire.
  29. Not believing my fortune, I say,
  30. Lori walks toward me, and we embrace.
    She smells of vanilla and manufactured plastic. It's pleasant. Comforting. Like home. Home before the fire.
  31. I walk back down the corridor.
    I'm all smiles and waves. The producer high fives me. I'm everyone's quarterback.
  32. The cameraman sets up for my exit interview. They powder my face.
    This powder is heavy and so absorbent. It's wild.
  33. The producer, holding back another high five, asks me how I feel.
  34. I answer.
    "Five years ago in the prototype phase, I burned my family home down trying to make my now it's pizza dream come true. I lost everyone I ever loved in one moment and could not get out of bed...."
  35. Before I can finish, Barbara stumbles in, clearly intoxicated.
    She smells of bourbon and soccer balls, but her business suit is pressed to perfection. No one seems shocked. Old hat, it seems. The producers try to wrangle Barbara, but she slips their grips several times.
  36. Barbara, in that raspy, firecracker voice, says,
    "Get your hands off me, I'm a beautiful orca."
  37. In that moment, my heart sinks.
    I know I have chosen the wrong Shark.