Gonna party like it’s $19.99 pizza special

Pizza, pizza.

I can’t say the word twice in a row without thinking back to the 1980s commercials for a national pizza chain in which ordering one pizza guaranteed you a second at no charge.

“I’ll take one pizza,” the dorky dad says.

“Then you get two pizzas,” says the happy, visor-wearing cashier.

“I’ll pay for two pizzas then,” dad says.

“Then you get four,” cashier grins.

And it continues until the dad is holding a ceiling-high stack of pizza boxes.

There was a stretch of time when I was about 8 or 9 in which my parents took us to that restaurant for its pizza-pizza deal at least twice a week.

It was cheap, it was good, and we never got sick of it — at least not permanently. And though the restaurant discontinued its two-for-one special long ago, I still bring home their pizza for my family on a regular basis.

It’s the only time I let the kids eat in the living room. Because if we’re having pizza, it also means we’re watching a movie.

Pizza breaks all the rules. I don’t want anything with red sauce coming near my white couch — unless, of course, the sauce is sandwiched between crust and cheese and greasy pepperoni. Then what the heck.

Double standard? Maybe. But it’s a practice that doesn’t stop at home.

In the Tribune newsroom, we might eat a snack at our desks — a banana for breakfast or someone’s birthday brownies — but never a meal. We try to keep sandwich crumbs out of our keyboards.

But once every two years on election night we get really crazy and we order pizza in the office. That’s what we did this week. After the sun went down and the polls closed Tuesday, reporters and editors made their way into the newsroom as election results roll in and they begin calling winners and losers for news stories.

Ever since I’ve been at the Tribune, it’s been this way. It’s tradition. On Thanksgiving, it’s turkey and potatoes. On Election Day, it’s pizza.

“It’ll be fun tonight!” we promise those who have to give up their quiet evenings at home.

“There will be pizza!”

Call it the great motivator.

But it’s more than a free meal or a night off from cooking. Maybe it’s leftover warm fuzzy feelings from elementary school. Remember winning a pizza party for your class because you collected the most canned food in the food drive, or sold the most community coupon books, or didn’t make your teacher cry for a whole week?

I can practically hear the principal’s voice over the loud speaker: “And the class that gets the most ____ gets a pizza party!”

The announcement was always welcomed with cheers, like there was nothing better. Oh, they could have given us a day without homework. Offered us our pick of anything from lost and found. Used the pizza money to buy food for the food drive instead of making us collect cans.
But no. They knew they had us hooked at pizza party; that every kid was imagining a work-free afternoon full of games and laughing and, oh yes, pop.

And if you think adulthood negates its wonder, you are wrong. When a nearby county wanted to encourage its employees to take part in the United Way campaign, a county supervisor promised to buy pizza for any office with 100 percent employee participation.

At least four county offices got pizza parties this week. Yippee!

Amazing how pizza inspires us. Perhaps it’s a principle that can be taken all the way to the top.

“And the lawmakers who can come to a consensus get a pizza party!”

That would be more astonishing than teaching your dog to say “I love you.” (That’s a pizza commercial from the ’90s, in case you’ve forgotten.)

So here’s to pepperoni, sauce and cheese. And here’s to America. Pizza! Pizza!

Amy Palser

Amy Palser writes personal stories readers can relate to: tales of family and friends, of childhood and rites of passage, of fantastic people and ordinary things. Her column appears each Saturday. She is the Tribune's managing editor.

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