One Large, to Go.....

I have to tell you a secret, I don't cook dinner on Thursdays.

OK, so the crew at the local pizza shop knows that I don't..... alright... the kids at the grocery store where I pick up the sodas know it too. But that's it, other than you. It's a guilty pleasure that makes me smile, every Thursday. It's a break from the dinner dishes, the prepping, planning, and cooking of a meal. My family is fed, my teens happy for the ritualistic treat, and I can enjoy an evening of relaxation.

Pizza.... go ahead, say the word out loud ~ no one's around. You smiled when you said it, didn't you? Now, another exercise (bear with me friend, I promise you, it is necessary). Think of various times that you've eaten pizza. Remember them? Good.

From an educated guess, most, if not all of your memories are positive, maybe even really happy. They are ones, like my Thursdays. I would even venture that there were parties surrounded by a few of those slices, or a grateful boss that sprang for a snack to show his appreciation for a finished project.

Oh, the left over pizza you had after a long evening of frivolity? Weren't you glad that you had THAT as a 'go to'?  College dinner/breakfast? See what I mean, you can't think of, eat, or say 'pizza' and be miserable. You just can't help but crack a bit of a smile.

My favorite memory of pizza is from a long time ago, when I worked in the family deli, where we made the treat that makes smiles. Daddy had just opened his business that week. It was a summer day, and I was ready to make subs, dish up home-made salads and beans, and of course, make pizza.

New business owners tend to do this huge mental build up in their mind's eye of how their first days will be. Bustling and exceedingly busy is the hopes that they all place their lofty thoughts. The reality of still moments that lead to quiet hours finally set in.

The small town we lived in was supportive. More so, our neighbors and family friends. This one particular Saturday was quiet. A few people trickled in, ordered a bit of cold cuts, a pound of this, a hoagie or two. The large, antiquated, brick-lined oven had been sitting patiently, waiting to be thrust into service.

'Pépé Lorde' strolled into the front door that day. He was our next door neighbor, and our family had 'adopted' him and his wife as surrogate grandparents. Pépé was old and wore a hearing aide. He and his wife lived with their daughter, son-in-law, and their teenage children.  Seeing Pépé walk through the door made me smile. He ordered a large pizza. Daddy said I could make it, and with his supervision, did so. While the pizza was baking in the oven,  the two men talked and walked around the small floor of the deli.  Daddy pointed out what he had done, and what he was planning to do, once business picked up.

I got to 'ring up' the sale, and had to figure tax, as the deli's first cash register was an antique. Pépé glowed with pride as he watched me, and praised me for my prowess. "Geez Larry, not only can she cook, she can do math! She'll make someone a fine wife!"

A bit embarrassed, but proud of my accomplishment, I thanked Pépé for shopping with us. Daddy shook his hand and thanked him for the business and asked that they let us know how their meal was. As we retreated behind the deli counter, Pépé opened the front door of the deli and stepped out onto the large form-made concrete stairs. As he closed the door behind him, he appeared to look around with pride at his new gastronomical acquisition. Then, as though he had done so a million times before, turned the pizza box on it's side and wedged it under his left arm, as if he were carrying the Sunday paper. 

Daddy and I groaned. I started out after Pépé, but my father grabbed me by my arm and stopped me. He pulled me close to him, and quietly, but firmly, told me that I needed to make another pizza, just like the one I had before, and it needed to make it quickly. There was a sense of urgency to his directive, so I did.

While I was preparing the second pizza of the day, Daddy was on the phone with Pépé's family.  Pépé was walking across our front lawn toward his home, along with his new possession tucked under his arm, and they could see him out their kitchen window.  Daddy explained that we were already making another pizza, it was in the oven cooking, and when it was ready, he would send me over to deliver it.

I delivered the second pizza to the neighbor's house a short while later. Pépé's son and grandson, Jack and John, were in the carport, still ribbing Pépé about the family meal being 'ruined'. Betty, Pépé's daughter, came out, chastising them, and then thanked me for the effort.  When it was all said and done, we were all laughing, and agreed that I should probably deliver pizza to them when they ordered.

See, it's like I said... you can't help but smile when you think of  pizza.