Down to the Last Bite: Pizza From the Heart

Before I go forward, I would like to explain that this comes from a special place where little pictures of crayon drawings exist in a father’s heart. This is where art-class productions on construction paper where little kids trace the outline of their hand and somehow make this drawing into a turkey for Thanksgiving. Through this, little kids bring home these finger-painting ideas to be pinned up on refrigerators around the globe. Or in my case, this is where I keep my memories of a time that can never be retrieved.

In this entry you will find a bit of wholesomeness, a bit of laughter, a dose of honesty – which may seem brutal at times- but either way, honesty is the necessity of truth and the truth is the basis of humility.
Therefore and without any further delay, I am asking you to shift gears for a bit and allow this entry to act as a porthole into my life; in which case, I would like to share with you a few precious moments – or as I see them, I want to share a few magic trinkets of memory –

Just to be clear, I would like to address something which I believe is true. There is a saying that there is no such thing as bad pizza. I tend to agree with this sentiment. I agree that pizza is one of the greatest inventions known to humankind. I swear to this and if there should be a vote, I would vote on this.

I am certainly a fan of a plain slice. I’ve been known to enjoy a Sicilian slice and, of course, a Grandma’s slice is not too bad. I’ve never been a huge pepperoni fan but I could definitely do sausage. At times, I am a fan of a good thin-crust pizza with black olives and mushrooms.
I’ve enjoyed white slices and sausage slices and meatball slices as well. I am certainly a fan of buffalo chicken slices, especially with a good dose of blue cheese dressing. I could always go for a rice ball or a nice garlic knot.  And yes, pizza is a part of my pastime. This is part of my history. However, I am not sure when it was that I had my first slice but either way, I have memories of pizza at lunchtime in school. This pizza was usually a frozen square-pizza (also known as Ellio’s which wasn’t too bad at all).

There was Rose’s Pizza from when I was a kid and there was Pizza King which was absolutely amazing. Then I remember when Domino’s Pizza came around. In fairness, the only reason we would order from them is because the pizza was less-expensive when we were kids. Not to mention that the pizza was free if the delivery was not achieved within 30 minutes of the order. 

Would I call this comfort food?
Well, in short my answer is yes. Also in short, I would say that my answer is more emotionally based. I will say that this comfort is memory based as well, which is bitter sweet in some cases.

I was a Dad once; at least, I can say this is true. I can say that in the land of divorce and parental alienation, I had my share of faults with this. There are times when I look back and wish things were different. There are times when I wished I fought smarter rather than harder and that I listened more. I wish I paid attention more and withstood the social and non-verbal cues with a better level of understanding. However, and this is where the pizza comes in, I have a memory of picking my younger daughter up after daycare. I remember taking her to a pizza shop on the way home. I knew that there was a change on the way. The idea of divorce was neither a stranger to me nor was it a stranger to my child’s mother. This is in no way an objection or a formal complaint by any means. Instead, this is me making an honest assessment claiming my faults as both a father and a person who coincided with a decision that led two people into the wrong marriage.

It is safe to say that I was equal in my mistakes. Although this is all in the past, I recognize my errors with hopes to offer this story without blame and at an even keel which is consistent with fact. To keep this fair, I heartily and accountably admit to my fair share in this dilemma.

Admittedly, my skills as a father were in need of improvement. I admit to my social and personal anxieties which distracted me from understanding and enjoying certain moments.
I admit that resentful thinking has a way of dismantling our decision making ability. When we talk about pride or “the need” to be right, I offer a guilty plea and forgo any verdict hereafter because since then, I have acted as both judge and jury. I have condemned and sentenced and though this comes years later (and after years of therapy and personal work) I offer this with a sense of self-realization and honesty because, yes, I have my share of  mistakes in this. Therefore, to remove blame or finger-pointing of any sort, I openly discuss my thinking errors and behavioral flaws which led us to where we are now in this world. By us, I mean my child; my daughter of whom, she and I are at different ends of the spectrum (for now).

I remember the connection though. I remember getting pizza. I remember the look of excitement on her little face when we would walk into Mario’s Pizzeria. I remember the way she would point at the different pies and point at the glass which covered the pizza

The kids who worked at the shop knew us well. They would laugh and, eventually, they knew what we were going to order without me asking. 
“Da pizza!”
That’s what she would say. She would say this in a low-toned, animated voice as if to ring out with excitement.
She and I would order our food and then get in the car to get home as quickly as possible to have, uh-uh – you guessed it: Da Pizza!
I remember the last time we ordered pizza before the divorce proceedings began. I knew what was about to be underway as well as the problems that would eventually occur.
I remember how my daughter ran out from the kitchen to find me to say, “Daddy! Da pizza is here,” as if to acknowledge this bond that I have always remembered and never forgotten.
“Da Pizza!!!”

I hold this memory in a special little box which I have placed in my heart. While I admit the trinkets (like Da Pizza! or the artistic drawings on construction paper) are few, I do have some memorable moments where no one else knows nor was anyone else there for this moment. It was just me and my child.
Mistakes and all. 

There was a time when I took my daughter to the mall. I remember this time well. It was a summer’s day. People were dressed in shorts and t-shirts. The world is somewhat of a tanner place during this time of year, which means young men and women lay out in the sun, basting their skin to a golden tan.
I was standing at the doorway of a shoe store with my daughter in hand. I was holding her and bouncing her up and down just to keep her occupied, when all of a sudden – a young girl who was obviously late for work came running through the corridor. The sound of her flip-flop sandals were clacking against the floor and back up against the soles of her feet. She was fresh from a shower, name tag dangling around her neck, bouncing all around . . . . by the way, her name tag was not the only thing about this young woman that was bouncing and causing attention.

This part is only intended to be descriptive; however, with that being said, this young girl was built somewhat dramatically and with a large chest that was both bouncing and bulging up from her V-neck t-shirt. These things were huge an will undoubtedly lead to either reduction surgery or back problems for this young girl – either that, or her chest would be the obvious pleasure for a likely lover with a fetish that would be overwhelmed by her curves.
I do not mean this to be insensitive or to degrade a woman’s body. However, watching this girl run was like witnessing two large bowling balls bouncing in a pillowcase and with each step – her boobs bounced to the beat of “ba-boom-ba-boom-ba-boom!”
(Again, please forgive the description, but the punchline will arrive shortly.)

I noticed this but I tried to play this off as if I didn’t notice at all. My daughter, yeah, she noticed this too. Innocent as ever (funny as ever too) and out loud and without skipping a beat, my little girl shouted out “Da bubbies!” in a similar voice to how she would proclaim the greatness of pizza.
But to be clear, she said this loudly and her annunciation stretched the pronunciation out as if to drag the word and loudly proclaim the fact that yes, this girl had bubbies and big ones at that.
“Da bubbies!” She said again; this time only louder. Everyone heard this.
There was no hiding this.
Know who else heard this? Yep, the girl who was running with the sound of her flap, flap, flapping sandals and boobs just a-bouncing out of her shirt.
The look I was given was evil but worse, I couldn’t get my daughter to stop yelling “The bubbies!!!”
This was embarrassing but only second to another situation.

I keep this little trinket locked away with my pizza memories. Lastly, before I close, I have another memory at a bagel store. This is the top of funny/embarrassing moments.
It was morning and all of the young beautiful girls at the counter were admiring me as a father, holding my little girl; cute as can be and together, my child and I were hamming up the scene and acting for everyone to see.

I was bouncing my little girl up and down and had to check her diaper just to be sure that she was dry.
I told her that I was checking her little tushy which she didn’t like.
She told me “No! I don’t have a little tushy!”
I said “Oh yes you do!”
Meanwhile all the young pretty girls behind the counter were swooning with all of the awws and the ahhs and then, in true form – my daughter’s timing stepped in to ruin it.

“I don’t have a little tushy!”
“Oh, yes you do!”
“No I don’t!”
“Yes you do!”
As cute as any 3 year-old could shoot back, my little girl said, “Oh yeah?”
And I said “Yeah!”
Then she said, “Well then you have a little penis!”

Every girl behind the counter laughed and went on with their business.
Not the coolest I’ve ever felt in my life by the way.
Like I said, I was a little embarrassed.
It was clear that there was nothing I could say to defend myself.
What could I say?
Who told you that?
Was your mother talking about me again?
There were no words that could redeem my soul at that moment.

In fairness, I never had the penis, vagina, or bubbies conversations with my little girl – but whether I can relive a moment or not or whether parental alienation will last a lifetime or if we will never talk again – I have these moments which I treasure. And I always will – embarrassing or funny, the two of us had a time.
Come to think of it . . .

I could use a slice of pizza at the moment.
Know what I mean?
A plain slice and the look of wonderment
That would be something worth eating down to the last bite.

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