After a couple has been married for a while they really begin to understand one another, sometimes to the point where they finish each other’s sentences. And they usually find touchstone events in their relationship that are symbolic and express some deeper meaning than people outside that relationship would ever understand.
One of those touchstone events in this couple’s relationship is the night I fumbled the pizza. It’s an event we relive with regularity here at the Poorhouse. Just the other night I was dishing out a couple portions of baked scallops, hot from the oven. One of those fat tasty orbs of seafood jumped right off the spatula I was using as a serving utensil and fell down between the stove and fridge – right into the space where we keep the mop and broom. I retrieved it and we examined the escapee, which was not only pretty grimy, but also extremely fuzzy with cat hair.
We decided it could be salvaged with a good rinse, but it had become cat food. After a brief moment of mourning I said: “oh, well, it’s not like I fumbled the pizza.” If I hadn’t said it I’m pretty sure Marsha would have. It’s something we say with distressing regularity.
I fumbled the pizza on the eve of the great Northeast Ice Storm of December 2008. We didn’t know at the time it was going to be the momentous event it turned out to be. We only knew we were hungry for pizza. We ordered a big one from our favorite pizza shop in nearby Winchendon, Mass., and drove there to pick it up.
It was raining – a miserable cold rain that foretold the possibility of slippery roads. So when I sat in the passenger seat of Marsha’s Subaru she immediately cautioned me to fasten my seatbelt. We’re from New Hampshire where any fool can opt to not fasten their belt or wear a motorcycle helmet. But we were in Massachusetts which cherishes its ability to legislate responsibility. It was the law and I have to admit it was good common sense, too.
But I had a large hot pizza in my lap to deal with. The obvious (to me) solution was to put the pizza on the back seat for the ride. I don’t know why I didn’t get out and open the back door to do this – probably on account of the heavy rain. But what I did instead was attempt to pass the box over the tops of the front seats and set it on the back seat. In the process the box bent – and the pizza slid – gravity did its thing and we both gasped as our fresh hot large pizza became a puddle of cheese, sauce, crust, and slices of sausage and mushroom on the floor mat back there.
That fumble alone didn’t make for a particularly momentous event. It was the rest of what happened that night. It rained hard all night, a freezing rain. We awoke to daylight and the steady sound of tree branches, tree tops and whole trees breaking from the weight of the ice that storm laid upon our landscape. Utility poles and wires littered the roads. It was a godawful mess and the moment we saw it we knew we were weren’t going to have electrical power for some time to come. That period turned out to be 12 days for us — twelve chilly, difficult days.
And we both agree they wouldn’t have been nearly as bad as they seemed if we had only gone into them fortified with a large, piping hot, sausage and mushroom pizza.