Monday, February 22, 2016

The Fly Exorcism and the Big Bang Pizza

So my boss and I were brainstorming possible social media pizza memes to increase engagement with our loyal PMQ audience. My mind, as it will relentlessly skew, crashlanded on my weird pizza encounters over decades of rarely discriminating faceoffs. I once ingested a two-day-old slice of curled-over, rock-hard pepperoni scaffolding a dead fly to make my unhinged toddler daughter stop screaming like a heretic burning at the stake.

I’m not proud of it. I was a single dad dealing with a lost pacifier and a postcard-cute, but temporarily bug-eyed, demon-possessed little girl who was clearly NEVER going to return to adorability mode short of someone immediately popping a giggle-inducing projectile into his or her mouth. I chose my mouth because I faintly feared the diseased insect might carry bubonic plague. Thirty-plus years later, I’d still rather suffer a horrible feverish death than endure screaming rugrats—and I adore my grandchildren.

Old pizza never fazed me. In October 1975, I was a freshman at Boston University watching the Red Sox lose nobly to the Big Red Machine at Fenway Park from the Day Room window of our 11th floor, Commonwealth Avenue high-rise dorm. A short-circuiting hot plate and a box of elbow macaroni stood between my skinny butt and starvation. Scrounging the occasional sliver of naked crust left over from the previous night’s smoky bacchanalia was a bonanza. Not as awesome as going to the all-you-can-eat Bonanza with the strip steaks and chocolate fountain, but good enough in a pinch.  Heck, my mother’s care package of a whole bologna—that’s right, she spared no expense—nearly incited a Lord of the Flies riot on my floor one night. It was after another one of those devil-may-care get-togethers 19-year-old college boys love to indulge in. I won’t go into detail, but for some reason—lost in the pungent clouds of my memory—that everyman’s sausage log attained the rabidly coveted status of a five-pound King Crab leg. I do vividly recall the bologna being launched like a Minuteman missile at one point to keep it out of enemy hands. Talk about the deadliest catch.

Which begs the question: Would you eat bologna on a pizza? How about crab legs? Since I already established my germophile cred as a young man with my fly-pizza exorcism, you can probably guess I’d eat crab legs off the floor at Bonanza, or Taco Bell or the once-monthly cleaned bathroom of your local Jiffy Lube. In fact, I’m one of those odd ducks who enjoy my pizza crawling with anchovies. Dead ones are manageable on your plate—but I’m flexible. Pineapple? Dig it! Pair it with that old odd duck, or better yet, salty ham, and I’m half way to Honolulu in the misfiring synapse range between my ears. Which begs the other ubiquitous challenge: Could you eat the whole pie?

When I really crave something, my MO is to do it some MO, until I pass out from exhaustion—or throw up. A handful of times, I’ve put my mouth where my bravado was and killed an entire meat-heaped dough dinghy.  Only once (see my Jan. 5 blog post) did my gluttony grab me by the collar and kick me to my knees to hug the porcelain throne behind door No. 2. In fact, pizza deliciousness has only really hurt me a couple of times. Actually, it stuck to the roof of my mouth at a temperature approaching the heat produced when the Big Bang went off. They should warn you that the gooey string of molten mozzarella that snaps back in your face from the initial bite while you recoil in pain is actually several thousand degrees hotter than the host slice.  I know what you’re thinking:  Pizza IS cosmic and you’re old as dirt, dude. You have to know it burns…it burns…I’ve got blisters on my gums! I bet you’ve also determined that delivered pizza cools off in a ratio equal to the rate that BB, and a pre-existing pizza-loving Creator, blew matter to the ends of the Universe. Gosh, fresh pizza is so good, that I submitted to the cheesy, saucy immolation again recently as I prepare to enter the dreaded seventh decade, frequent-napper leg, of my lifetime pizza roadtrip. OK, I’m only 59, not 69. Do the math! Yep, that makes three times pizza hurt—but it’s still soul food to me.

Even given my hairy earlobes, I don’t pretend to own the pizza chops that my younger colleagues here at PMQ have earned.  I have learned one thing, though: Even if you agree with me that it looks ridiculous to keep blowing on the glowing lava tip of that come-hither slice like you’re whistling the entire score of Les Mis, it’s worth the wait.

If you’re nodding your head and want to share some of your own pizza journey observations, feel free to email me at If they move me—and I cry at Preparation H commercials—they just might find their way into the PMQ cyberspace.


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