Bugsy’s Pizza

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I’ve learned that pizza tastes best when you’re a child. If you’re a kid eating pizza, then chances are you’ve done something right that day. It’s a treat, a reward, a bribe, a “sorry, your crazy aunt is visiting for the weekend but at least I’ve ordered some pizza!” Unfortunately, the time will come when you’re an adult who can afford to order pizza whenever you please, and trust me, it just won’t taste as good.

My family’s favorite pizza place was Bugsy’s restaurant in St. Catharines, Ontario. When you first walked in, you’d notice the front of an old Volkswagen Beetle protruding from the middle of the wall, hanging over a table for six. This was our favorite spot. Many meals were spent beneath that beetle, talking about first days of school, Nik learning how to walk, Elisa learning how to drive and other milestones that we left at the table.

The reason we started going to Bugsy’s in the first place is because they started offering coupons in the weekly paper for buy one medium pizza, get one free. My dad loved to spoil us when it came to coupons and we appreciated that. He was the sole breadwinner for our family, since my mother was sick, and though there were many things that he couldn’t afford to give us, he always found a way. Coupons were usually the answer.

I remember everything about those pizzas, from the soft white dough to the way the ends tore off when you tried pulling a slice away before it cooled. We ordered one pepperoni, half with green peppers, and one Canadian (pepperoni, mushroom, bacon). Everyone drank water but one of us would order Coke, with unlimited refills. We would all share it, making sure to order at least six refills before we left, and not just to get our money’s worth but because we knew it would be a long time before any of us would have the luxury of drinking Coke again.

I never thought of it then, but two pizzas aren’t much to feed a family of six, especially considering how small the slices were and the fact that we were all growing children. But now I remember that my parents never really ate the pizza. Dad always filled up on food before we left the house, and mom only ate our leftover crust. It wouldn’t have made sense to me then, I would have assumed that they just weren’t hungry, but now I see all of the sacrifices they made to give us a beautiful childhood.

I never would have thought that I’d grow up and be allergic to cheese, unable to enjoy pizza without punishment. I never would have thought that I’d want to go back to Bugsy’s as badly as I do now, and sit together as a family one more time. How can something so simple be impossible? Every day that I get older, I think of everything my parents have done for me when I was a child, and all that I want to do is go back to that time and live in it a little longer. Have one more refill. Eat more pizza. Cut out another coupon.

People are always saying, “live in the moment,” but I really don’t think that I could appreciate this moment any better if I didn’t revisit my past, and remember all the crust my mom ate and all the coupons my dad saved, so that I could sit here now, not taking anything for granted.

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