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Pizza: A Love Story.

08.07.2012

The first pizza I can fully recall having the pleasure of ingesting was the shitty cafeteria slices we had in elementary school. That kind, and I’m sure you had if you attended poor public schools in the early nineties, which seemed more like a slice of white bread that was dropped into a puddle of liquid tomato product, slapped with a slice of government cheese and heated under a light bulb from an Easy Bake Oven two weeks prior to pizza day. It was a soggy, plastic mess of a meal which would make Italians cringe and caring mothers stick with sack lunches.

It was gross, to be sure.

But I loved it.

I looked forward to pizza day. I longed for it. It was the one thing keeping me awake through all the subjects that I never cared about, even as an year old kid. Thursday was the day they decided to christen as Pizza Day in my school. It felt like an eternity away on Monday. Tuesday I was in the abyss, thinking that maybe this week they forgot to order the pizza ingredients and that I would be forced to suffer another week of this shit. By Wednesday things began to look up because I could see the light. I woke on Thursday morning with zeal, knowing that this sorry excuse for a child’s nourishment was waiting for me at 11:30 sharp. I paid attention in the morning classes, thinking if maybe I did well in Science class they would let me go to the front of the line and I could get that really fresh piece. I was in heaven for twenty five minutes.

From there, my pizza memories go to a number of places. As a picky kid with an unexplainable food phobia, it wasn’t a picnic for my mother to get me to eat anything besides cheese sandwiches and cheese pizza. Even the cheese was often a sticking point for me, as I actually peeled it off my pizza until I was about eleven. It didn’t stop there.  I’ve never eaten red meat. I don’t think I would have eaten lasagna even if she bribed me with Power Rangers toys. Shit tasted weird to me, what can I say. (All of this lead to me being a health eater as an adult, so quit cryin’ ma).

I can’t be positive, but I’m pretty sure I’m only smiling because we just had pizza.

Eventually…

I lost my aversion to the melted cheese and shit was on! I was able to fully enjoy the subtle perfection of a plain cheese pizza. Gone were the days of scrapping it off and giving it to my brother to slurp down. There was no other food in the world. It was in these moments of culinary joy where I found the same bliss that Kevin McAllister found in Home Alone.

I’d volunteer to help my mom with the grocery shopping in hopes that she might take us out to the lunch of my choice, which was always Pizza Hut. Aficionados today be damned, that shit was delicious when I was a kid and I’ll still have it now I’m grown (admittedly I regret it afterwards.  And going to Pizza Hut as an adult just doesn’t have the same flair it did when I was a kid. Now I just feel like white trash. If the shoe fits…). I filled up those goddamn Book It! cards so fast they couldn’t keep up with me on the personal pans. I credit Pizza Hut with being the sole reason I became such an avid reader and then a writer.

Pizza subs, Pizza Hot Pockets, Pizza-flavored Pringles, Bagel Bites. I did not discriminate. But one day something happened. I knew that becoming a vegetarian and a healthy eater in general would one day over take the desire to eat at the Pizza Huts and the Domino’s of the world, I just didn’t want it to happen. I wanted to be healthy and eat greasy-ass pizza everyday. I wanted to have my pizza and eat it too. But, as all things do, that want ended and I stopped eating pizza with dairy cheese.

These days, its all fake cheese or cheeseless pizzas. And you know what? It’s still the best goddamn day of the week. Being an adult sucks in a major way compared to the days of greasy-pizza-fingers-on-the-Genesis-Controller, but I still feel like a million bucks when I eat pizza, just now it has toppings like vegetables and vegan cheese. I know that in one way or another, pizza and I will last forever.

I love you pizza.

Vegan Pizza Hut-style. Still crazy after all these years.

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