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Here on Earth

Not too far from us is a pizza parlor that makes fabulous New Haven style pizza—thin crust, fresh ingredients, excellent sauce, cooked to perfection. My husband’s favorite is their Italian combo: bacon, sausage, pepperoni, onion, garlic, mushrooms, peppers. A carnivore’s dream.

A few weeks ago I ordered one and left my name for pick up. When my husband and I arrived, it had just come out of the oven smelling delicious. The owner looked at the ticket.

“Alice,” he said.

“That’s me,” I said.

He grinned.

“To the moon!”

I’ve always hated that joke.

It comes from The Honeymooners, of course, the 1950s sitcom starring Jackie Gleason. Alice was his wife, leveled headed but sharp-tongued, who invariably warned him that his latest scheme wouldn’t work. “BANG, ZOOM! Straight to the moon!” he’d tell her, brandishing his fist.

Each time, the audience roared. And each time, I cringed.

Why was threatened violence funny?

“Ahh, shut up!” Alice’d reply.

Was that the joke? That Gleason was inept, after all?

Yet it’s the line “To the moon” that makes people laugh.

Witness the small crowd who did, at the pizzeria—mostly men in their late 50s, the owner’s pals, in on his humor. They all broke up when he threw out the line.

I felt very uncomfortable. But a lifetime of practiced politeness kicked in, and I smiled.

“You know the joke?” the owner asked.

“Yes,” I said.

“Always loved it,” he said.

I paid for the pie and, as we exited, I told my husband, “That was really offensive.”

“Yeah,” he said. “It was.”

Today was a busy day. My husband was under a deadline, and I was working on several chapters for a new novel.

“Take out?” I suggested for dinner.

“How about pizza,” he said. “Italian combo.”

“Sure,” I said. “I’ll order it. Can you pick it up?”

He looked at the pile of work on his desk, hesitating. I understood. He didn’t really have the time. On the other hand, I did.

“I’ll order pulled pork,” I said, “from the BBQ place. I’ll pick it up.”

“Not pizza?”

“I don’t want to be told that I’m going to be punched to the moon.”

He nodded.

“Get their baked beans, too. And a baked potato.”

Dinner was delicious.

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
ladyliberal
Oct. 12th, 2014 03:04 pm (UTC)
I don't want you to think that the *only* think I'm taking away from this story is about pizza, rather than violence, but while the rest of it is self-evident, I have to know:

what on earth characterizes new haven style pizza?
acebauer
Oct. 12th, 2014 03:22 pm (UTC)
New Haven style pizza has a very thin crust, cooked crisp but still a little moist, with a thin layer of sauce and whatever toppings you might like. It's baked at very high temperature, ideally in a brick oven (although there are quite a few places who manage a yummy version w/o the brick oven).
ladyliberal
Oct. 13th, 2014 05:31 am (UTC)
Okay. Sounds delicious. What differentiates it from NY pizza?
acebauer
Oct. 13th, 2014 12:46 pm (UTC)
Never having had NY pizza (I know, I know) I can't answer. I consulted w/ my resident ex-New Yorker who answered, "There are many styles of NY pizza," and didn't have an answer either.

If the NY pizza you're thinking of is anything like Northern NJ pizza, the crust there is somewhat thicker and a little less crisp, and the toppings tend to be laid on a bit thicker, too. You can order New Haven style pizza w/ lots of toppings (e.g. the Italian combo I described), but if you're only ordering one or two items, it isn't layered the way I've seen it in NJ.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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