Pizza with Extra Principles

We seem to be coming out of this pandemic. It’s been hard on everybody. It’s been especially hard on small businesses, they say.

Jules’ father has a birthday coming up. And Father’s Day is coming up too. Jules and his father have been keeping their distance throughout this pandemic.

But Jules needed to reach out because his father’s birthday was approaching. And so was Father’s Day.

So Jules reached out, asking what he’d like to do. Like most of us, his father hasn’t done anything in months. Things are finally opening up, with there being a few things to do, finally. But Jules knew, nonetheless, he’d want to do nothing. He knew that nothing would be the best gift he could give his father. But Jules asked anyway, just in case the months of this pandemic and lockdown had changed things.

“Just stop by and we’ll get some pizza from Pat’s Pizza. Since Pat died and my neighbor (his son) has taken over, possibly we could support his small business too and put his father’s antics to bed for good,” his father responded.

Pat’s Pizza is on Main Street of Jules’ old hometown. A few years ago, Main Street was going to get new pavement and sidewalks, causing some disruption to the Main Street businesses. Apparently, Pat Sr. made a big stink about it to the Town Board, of which a friend of Jules’ family was a member. Rumor had it Pat Sr. was a real asshole about it. Word of mouth was Pat Sr. and some of the other business owners tried demanding restitution from the town and state for the disruption to their businesses. For being such a whiner and an asshole, Jules’ father had decided to boycott Pat’s Pizza for life.

But Pat died from cancer a while back. And now his son owns the place. And now Pat Jr. and Jules’ father are on decent terms.

So, in a way, when Jules asked his father about his upcoming birthday and Father’s day, nothing about the response was too much of a surprise. The turn on Pat’s Pizza, in and of itself, was. Doing nothing together except eating pizza after months of lockdown and separation wasn’t. But the best part was the rationale for no longer boycotting Pat’s based on principles which needed to be woven into the Father’s Day narrative. See, in supporting Pat’s on Father’s Day, there was still the opportunity to acknowledge Pat Sr.’s wrongness and, in doing so, implicitly acknowledging the inherent rightness and goodness of boycotting Pat’s when he was still alive. But now, thank goodness, it’s okay to eat Pat’s Pizza since the bad man is dead. And it’ll be noble to support a small business too, Jules’ father was sure to point out – a nice way of assuaging any guilt about the hypocrisy or silliness about the whole thing from the beginning. In any case, Jules had already known that Father’s Day couldn’t just be about pizza cause pizza’s way too fucking simple and way too fucking common. This was gonna be his day – Father’s Day and his father’s birthday- and his father’s goddamned pizza. So it had to be more than mere pizza – and it was imperative that Jules knew it too – that it was so much more than baked dough and cheese and sauce.

See, some folks like pizza with just plain cheese. Some like it with pepperoni or sausage, onion and/or mushrooms. But, even though you won’t see this topping on any menu, theirs comes with extra principles, the way Jules’ father loves it. It’s the way his pies will always be, from Pat’s Pizza or anywhere else. It’s stupid, Jules knew, but it was going to be his father’s day. It was going to be a celebration of Father’s Day and his birthday so when they bit into the warm, gooey pizza of principles, Jules wasn’t gonna say anything other than how goddamned tasty it was.

You may think Jules was reading far too much into a simple statement about Father’s Day, a birthday and a pizza. Then again, maybe only Jules and his father understand the true depth of his father’s attunement to virtues and principles. And because of that attunement, Jules prays that Pat Jr. never turns out to be an asshole like his old man. You never know. People and things have ways of changing over time. But Jules hopes he never does, cause if he changes into an asshole, he guesses that’ll retroactively spoil this upcoming Father’s Day forever. And that’d be a real shame, knowing just how much it’s all going to mean.

It sometimes makes Jules wonder if there was more to special days than just pizza, then maybe the trite and silly principles in a pizza wouldn’t mean so goddamned much. Maybe a pizza could just be a pizza. And maybe he’d feel a little worse about going home to entertain his own bullshit instead of being so glad to leave all the nonsense about the principles in a pizza behind him. Pizza this time. Or next time, the morals of deciding which movie to watch, the most ethical place to buy gasoline or the principles in deciding which fucking car to buy or who to root for in a fight. Jules wasn’t happy knowing he’d be so happy there’d be 364 more days until the next Father’s Day.

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