Slice of life

Pass­ing years brings less ‘pass the pizza’

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - EDITORIAL PAGE - Gary Smith Gary Smith is a re­cov­er­ing jour­nal­ist who lives in Rogers.

Since the be­gin­ning of time, Man has worked to de­velop var­i­ous ways to mea­sure, well … time. There is a school of thought that Stone­henge is ac­tu­ally a gi­ant cal­en­dar. (Those odd scratches on that col­umn on the right? That’s some­one try­ing to re­mem­ber his an­niver­sary. And the blood stain next to it? Yeah, well, guess who for­got any­way.)

Now, we have all sorts of de­vices on all man­ner of things, from our tele­vi­sions to our cars to our re­frig­er­a­tors to, well, ac­tual cal­en­dars that help us mea­sure the pass­ing of time.

Me? I mea­sure it in pizza slices.

OK, so, not ex­actly. I mean, you don’t have to take away a slice ev­ery fourth year, and if the num­ber of pep­per­o­nis varies from slice to slice, it’s be­cause some­one in the back didn’t do a very good job of top­ping dis­tri­bu­tion, not that the Ro­mans were kind of big-pic­ture folks and not into the nitty gritty of ce­les­tial math.

For me, the pas­sage of time is marked, sym­bol­i­cally if not ac­cu­rately, by the in­versely pro­por­tional num­ber of slices of pizza I can eat. In short, if life is a cir­cle, mine is a pie.

Or, maybe a bell curve. When I was young (like, re­ally young. Pre-cell­phone young) I couldn’t eat a lot of pizza be­cause, well, I couldn’t eat a lot of any­thing. I could or­der it. I could prom­ise my par­ents I would eat it. But, I couldn’t. I could how­ever, leave it in a “to-go” box un­der an auto seat. But that’s an­other story and in­volves the phrase “plummeting re­sale value.”

Then, about the time pu­berty and my fee­ble pass at ath­let­ics col­lided, the curve def­i­nitely started an up­ward arch. Un­for­tu­nately for my par­ents, my older brother’s curve was on a sim­i­lar tra­jec­tory. Which means we would ar­rive home from our separate school days/prac­tices and each con­sume a frozen pizza. And then eat din­ner.

Just a word here for par­ents head­ing into sim­i­lar time frames with their chil­dren: You’ll want to stress that frozen piz­zas are not like frozen yo­gurt. It’s re­ally, re­ally, RE­ALLY bet­ter if you cook them be­fore you eat them. And if you take them out of the box first.

I be­lieve I reached Max Pizza dur­ing my early 20s, when it sat­is­fied the three ba­sic col­le­giate re­quire­ments for food. It was cheap, it could be ob­tained without ef­fort (OK, a phone call, but …) and it de­manded vir­tu­ally no level of dex­ter­ity to eat (I say “dex­ter­ity,” you say “so­bri­ety,” to­mato sauce, tomaaahto sauce).

In fact, pizza doesn’t even re­quire you to use your hands. Prob­a­bly bet­ter if you do, but, it is im­por­tant to re­mem­ber that hot cheese burns will heal.

Since those golden pizza-eat­ing days, it’s been steadily down­hill. Or down bell. Def­i­nitely down, in some way that’s not “down the hatch,” since I have grad­u­ally lost the abil­ity to con­sume Italy’s most im­por­tant con­tri­bu­tion to Amer­ica (over­look­ing, of course, that “Amer­ica” is named for Amerigo Ve­spucci, an Ital­ian) as the miles pile up on my odome­ter.

I’ve also lost the abil­ity to eat Slim Jim’s and Dr Pep­per for break­fast. Pro­vided you’d like to call that a skill. If you’re pulling from my par­tic­u­lar quiver, you’ll take any ar­row you can come up with.

Some­one who used to won­der if there was a size larger than “Su­per Du­per Back the Truck Up, with Dou­ble Cheese,” now finds his ac­tual limit is about three small­ish slices. First thing to go is your knees. Then the pizza.

Ini­tially, it was a mat­ter of “could, but shouldn’t,” as in, “I could eat more, but no one, not my im­me­di­ate fam­ily, any­one sit­ting near me, my doc­tor or my­self at about 2 p.m. is go­ing to be in fa­vor of that.”

Then, quickly enough, it was just a flat “no.” Like a prize fighter who can’t get up off the mat, I was down for the count. At “three,” in­stead of “10,” but you get the metaphor.

Ap­par­ently I’m not the only one with age­based pizza is­sues. The Lovely Mrs. Smith and I ran into two of our mar­ried friends at a lo­cal restau­rant and the hus­band shared that he could no longer eat pep­per­oni. And yet, life goes on.

Hope­fully, I’m not go­ing to look back on my pizza-lim­ited sta­tus as the good old days while I “en­joy” my Me­ta­mu­cil and gruel diet. But if that’s where we’re head­ing, well, I’ve known some great moz­zarella in my day. And all good things have to come to an end. Even the round ones.

Now if I get to where I can’t eat peanut but­ter, we’ve got a prob­lem. …

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