Day 104 – National Pizza with the Works Except Anchovies Day

Pizza with the works?  Is that a thing?  I always thought that was a television phrase, like when someone on TV goes into a bar and orders a beer without any specific name.  Try doing that in a real bar and the bartender will think it’s your first time.  And do pizza places still even carry anchovies?  Who started that tradition anyway?  Who looked at a nice beautiful pizza and said this would taste better if it was just a little more fishy-tasting?  A lot of questions.

I had a few things to celebrate today alongside pizza with the works.  First, the boys soccer team from our local high school was in the state championship game.  I’m not usually a big supporter of high school sports (outside of our Patriot JV Volleyball squad), but the coach of the team is our friend Mike (of the famous Our Mike and Tina). Mike and Tina have both been part of the Mellow family for some time.  Tina used to be a babysitter for the family which naturally turned into a great friendship with Gigi and with all the daughters too.  Tina was like a daughter to Barry and Gigi herself.  When Mike came into Tina’s life, he immediately became part of the extended family too.  They have been there for every life event and are always there for holidays and other celebrations too.  They’re good people.  Mike has been the coach for the Portsmouth soccer team for many years and having made it to the state championship game this year was a pretty big deal.  The team had not been there since 1998.  I decided to go cheer him on.

The game was at Rhode Island College in Providence.  It was a beautiful day out and the sun was shining on the field, although the bleachers were pretty much covered in shade so if you were sitting there, it was really cold.  The crowd was spirited.  Having never been to a high school championship game, I was kind of surprised by that.  People cheering, people shouting, people stamping their feet.  I was glad to see that both sides had so much support.  Portsmouth was playing Barrington.  I got there with about 10 minutes left in the first half and I thought I was the jinx because Barrington scored the first goal of the game within the first minute of me being there.  Barrington scored again minutes into the second half but then Portsmouth scored a few minutes after that and that brought the team back to life.  For the rest of the game, the momentum seemed to be with Portsmouth and I think they had possession for the majority of the time.  Mike was on the other side of the field with the team.  He was too far away for me to see his face, but I could easily tell it was him by his movements – sitting on the end of the bench and then getting up and walking around.  I wish I could of heard what he was saying to his players.

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Having never played or really even watched soccer, I’m not that familiar with the rules of the game, so I can’t really give an opinion on the officiating.  However, and especially hearing the fans around me yelling about it, it seems like the ones working the game today were not the best.  There were a few weird no-calls on some questionable throw-ins, a few no calls on some pretty blatant trips and an unusual yellow card in the last few minutes of the game.  The last 15 minutes of the game were really exciting and Portsmouth came so close on really great shots, but the 2 to 1 lead held and Barrington ended up the victor.  When the crowd was filing out of the stands, you could sense the disappointment and the anger, and that would be expected.  I had a chance to say hi to Tina as I was leaving and I told her to congratulate Mike because it’s still a great accomplishment and the team played great.  I knew they’d be upset today, but I hope they found the joy the journey to the championship brought them.  Regardless, I was still glad I was able to go cheer on Mike.  He’s always been there for us so I wanted to make sure he knew we were excited for him. That’s what celebrating is all about.

I had to leave pretty quickly from the game because I then had to pick up Lola at the airport.  She was coming back home today and that was another thing that I wanted to celebrate.  She was coming into Logan so I drove right there and I ended up getting there about a half hour before she landed.  After some confusion on my part (I was at the wrong gate), I finally saw her flowing red locks and big cheery smile walking across the terminal towards me rolling her giant suitcase.  My Lola was home.  We hopped in the car and made our way back to our house.  During the ride, she told me her tales from her journey and we talked about everything else that had happened over the past week.  We’ve both been pretty shaken up about the election and it was nice to finally talk to her in person about it.  It was just nice to see her in person.  When we got home, Lola immediately sat in her ‘corner’ in the kitchen, cranked the heat (her corner has two heating vents blowing right in the area), and made herself cozy.

For dinner, I still had to order my pizza and this was giving me some worry because I wasn’t sure how to ask for it. I looked at the menus of all the local pizza places and tried to find one that had a pizza called “The Works”.  They did not.  I then decided to play stupid on the phone and I called North End Pizza to place the order.  It went like this:

North End: North End Pizza, what can I get you?
ME:     Can I get a small Buffalo Chicken pizza?
NE:     Sure, anything else?
ME:     Can I get a small pizza with the works?
NE:     Hold on ….[muffled mumbling] … we don’t really have a pizza with the works.  What do you want on it?
ME:     Aw geez, I don’t even know.  It’s for my friend who said to order a pizza with the works but no anchovies.   What would you put on it?
NE:     Our House pizza has pepperoni, chouriço, sausage, onions, mushrooms, peppers, olives.  That’s kind of like the works.
ME:     Works for me.

The “works” is not really clearly defined.  I had toyed with the idea of just ordering all the toppings, but that could mean anything theses days and I’d end up with pineapple and chouriço on the same pie.  That’s why I let the pizza place decide.  Anchovies were never a possibility because they don’t even carry them, so I didn’t have to worry about that caveat.    It was a good pizza.  My only complaints would be that it’s too much on a pizza so if you pick up a slice, everything rolls off.  That’s just gravity working its forces.  My other issue is olives.  I hate olives and this pizza was loaded with them.  How did olives work their way onto pizza?  Regardless, I felt like I went with the letter of the law on this celebration and if olives were a consequence of that, so be it.  I can say I did it.  But if I were picking my own pizza, I’d stick with the Buffalo Chicken pizza that Lola had (the leftovers of which I plan to eat today).

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That was a full day of celebration.  There’s something nice about having Lola back home that helps me recenter and makes everything a little better.  Even with all my worries about what the future holds, just having Lola nearby makes me feel the tiniest echoes of hope and gives me the feeling it’s time for action.  It’s life with the works, but hold the anchovies.

Next Up: National Indian Pudding Day 

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