I don't like pizza.
Hold on! Now just hold on a second! Before you banish me from the land of People Who Like Things that are Ridiculous to Dislike, let me give you a little back story. Because I'm not sure why, exactly, but when you tell people you don't like pizza, they always demand some sort of explanation. People who don't like coconut or mushrooms or tomatoes or black licorice always seem to get away with their natural distaste for those things without having to justify anything; but for some reason, it doesn't work when you don't like pizza.
It goes like this:
Random whoever: Hey! Caterpillar! Want some pizza?
Me: No, I'm good.
RW: But I can hear your stomach rumbling from here! Have some pizza already!
Me: That's okay, I don't... [audible sigh] I don't really eat pizza. I mean, I just...I don't really like it.
RW: That is BULLSHIT. You are LYING. Everyone likes pizza.
Me: No, really. It's fine, I don't want it.
RW: WHY? WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?
Me: I don't mean to be any inconv--
RW: WITCH! SHE'S A WITCH! BURN HER!
So since I can hear your brain screaming even as I type this and you haven't read it yet, allow me to explain.
I've always had a thing about melted cheese. I can't really explain that part, except to say that I'm picky about textures, and melted cheese tastes to me like some sort of fart-scented melted rubber that's on its way to solidifying into that fake vomit crap little boys order out of comic books. But when I was a kid, I could tolerate it in moderate quantities. Unless someone ordered a pizza with tons of extra cheese, I was fine, and I could wolf down slice after slice of the stuff. I mean, fuck, I was a kid; pizza's like friggin crack to kids.
Then, in high school, I dated Pizza Man. Most of us know a Pizza Man or two, and this guy was definitely part of the club; he ate pizza every day. Every. Fucking. Day. Sometimes two or three meals a day. How teenage boys manage this crap without imploding in a mass of grease and salt and clogged arteries I'll never understand, but that's who he was - that teenager everyone knows with the taste for junk food and the metabolism of a healthy young horse.
So while I was with Pizza Man, pizza became a regular part of my diet. And I honest-to-goodness think I overdosed on it. That's right - on fucking pizza. After he and I broke up, and suddenly pizza was less present in my daily diet, and then it came back for a suprise visit, it's like my gag-reflex-controlling-mechanism that had been working overtime against the years of constant melted cheese just gave up. It just up and quit, saying "fuck this crap - no. No. After all this time of constant overwork, you're bringing this shit back? I thought we were done with this? That's it. I'm out. Peace." So since then, for about six years now, every time I've come into contact with pizza, I've wanted badly to be able to eat it, but I just know I'll never keep it down.
Do you know how goddamn inconvenient it is to dislike pizza?
Pizza is fucking everywhere. It's at birthday parties. It's at family reunions. It's at office parties. It's at drunken nights after the bar. It's at the bar. And it's reliable, dude. Because if you're having a bunch of people over, and you don't want to deal with cooking, what do you do to accomodate everyone's unique tastes? You order a fucking pizza! So easy! Everyone loves pizza! It'll be a hit! You can get vegetarian! You can get pepperoni! You can get every ethnic category under the sun! PIZZAAAA!
And then, I show up. And when you don't like something like pizza, everyone knows about it. People talk about it. They gossip about it. So I come into the room, where everyone's enjoying their pizza guilt-free, and everyone freezes. And looks. And says the same thing:
"Oh, no, what are you going to do?"
Have you ever had a roomful of people make a fuss about you because your tastebuds are fucking freaks? Because I have. More than once. And I'm now guarded against it. I'm constantly on Pizza Watch, so I can prepare myself in case I have to be ready. If I'm on my way to a big event, I double check in advance to make sure I can actually eat the food. I recently went to a family reunion with Mr. Caterpillar's extended family in Montreal, and his mother mentioned in the car on the way there that they'd be serving pizza - the whole car went quiet and she turned around and looked at me.
"Oh, no," she said.
I had to quickly - and repeatedly - assure her that it was fine. There were veggies, and chips, and other snacks throughout the day, so I emphasized I'd make sure to just fill up on snacks, then I could probably steal one or two of Mr. Caterpillar's crusts and finish up with a nice hearty dessert. (Bless you, Mr, Caterpillar - bless your heart and the crusts you've given me over the years.) Because if I didn't make sure to tell her that, this would have been the scene at the reunion:
Party host: Pizza's here!
Everyone: Yay! Pizza!
Mr. Caterpillar's Mom: Oh! But the Social Caterpillar doesn't like pizza!
Me: ...Oh, it's fine.
Party host: But we can order you something else!
Me: No! It's fine! I'm not that hungry! [stomach growls loudly]
PH: How about I make you something?
Me: Dear god no, please don't trouble yourself. I really don't need anything.
PH: [whipping out pots and pans] How about a meatloaf? Or a casserole! I can make you a casserole!
Me: I really don't care, honestly!
Everyone: [whispering] She doesn't like pizza?
Do you see now? Do you see what my life is like? I try to be a gracious guest. I really do. But when I go to a party where pizza is served, that involves one of three things - either trying to allow myself to go hungry in peace, so as to not make a fuss, and hope that no one notices I'm snubbing the food; being a demanding bitch who's dissatisfied with the dinner and asking for special attention; or risking eating a slice of pizza and proceeding to quickly throw it right back up all over the host's lovely house. And if you're like me - the painfully socially awkward person who desperately just wants to be LOVED, dammit - you're definitely going to pick that first option as the most attractive. So I go hungry. Every time pizza is served. And hopefully, I manage to do so without attracting a scene.
Just try and think how often pizza is a part of your social gatherings. Just try and imagine it.
For the record, when I'm there, and involved in the ordering process, I usually just order a small pizza without cheese. Occasionally, this involves some convincing on the part of the person taking my order that this is even possible. ("Yes. Yes, I do understand that the toppings may not cling as well to the crust. Yes, I'm sure. No, I do still want the sauce. And the crust. Yes, everything but the cheese. Oh, for fuck's sake - I'm lactose intolerant, all right?")
But if it's a big crowd, or people you don't know well, you don't want to complicate things or make yourself stand out as the Cheeseless Wonder. So if it's a big enough group, you can try and encourage everyone to get excited about ordering chicken wings and garlic bread and convince them that it's just cause you want the variety. But now everyone thinks you're stoned. Or you can lie about being lactose intolerant or vegan, but the former only works if you're going to commit to it, and as soon as someone breaks out the creamy garlic dip or ice cream cake, you're regretting your decision. And the latter? Well, let's just say most vegans don't go for a cheeseless meat lover's.
So as you can see, it's really no trivial matter to be the Girl Who Doesn't Like Pizza. I mean, fuck - it could have been a Stieg Larsson thriller with all the drama it's caused me.
And that brings me to the conclusion. I'm on a mission, friends: I am going to like pizza again. Pizza with cheese. Pizza with melted cheese. I am going to eat it, and I am going to fucking enjoy it, and I am going to control my gag reflex and I am going to be normal.
Do you hear me, friends? Are you hearing this? I'm doing this. I'm committing. I am going to like pizza again. Bite by bite, piece by piece, pie by pie, I am going to acquire a taste for the stuff. I can do this. I did it with wine and beer, and god knows that worked - I can do it with cheesy baked bread with tomato sauce.
And life will, once again, be whole!