9 inch Pizza_BoxLast week my daughter attended an after school function where you could buy pizza for $1 a slice. It wound up being overcooked Papa John’s pizza that was cut into 12 slices rather than 8. (In other words, a rip off.) I’ve blogged about my kid’s crappy palette before. They actually prefer Domino’s or Papa John’s to good, New York style pizza. But the doughy disappointment offered to my child at school is a far cry from the pizza parties I experienced as a child.

Our town had 3 pizza parlors, and all of them were good. Benny’s pizza was right across the street from the elementary school, and you could get 2 slices and a coke for $1.50. Leonia Pizza was by far the best in town, and you could choose between regular or Sicilian style pizza. Then there was Sergio’s, which catered more to the middle and high school crowd because it was on that side of town. Their pizza was good too, but the dude that ran the place was kind of creepy in a perverted way.

Yes, it was great to go out at lunch and grab a couple of slices, but the best was when you had a classroom pizza party. This usually came as a reward for being well-behaved, doing well on tests, or maybe just because the teacher was craving something more than tuna on rye encased in Saran Wrap. Regardless of the reason, this special lunch-time treat was worth all the work you had put in to earn it.

You did a lot of clock watching on pizza party days…the morning dragged as anticipation built. But before long, there would be a noon-time knock at the door, and the delivery man would bring in a stack of white boxes, and the smell of cheese, oregano and oven-baked crust would permeate the room.

Grabbing a slice was an art form in itself. Unlike the prefab, decidedly stiff stuff my kids call pizza, the slices I was accustomed to required two hands to pick up. In order to successfully transfer the pizza from the box to your plate, you needed to grab the crust’s edge and then slide your other hand under, cradling the crust down by the point in your palm (or fingertips, depending on how hot the pizza was).

If you carelessly snatched a piece, the slice would more than likely flop down, which resulted in the cheese sliding off your crust and into the box, and which, if you weren’t quick, would be confiscated by the person standing next to you – mmmm extra cheese!

I was never one to fold my pizza. I thought by folding it, you ate it twice as fast, and I wanted to make my pizza last. Then there were the girls who blotted the pizza with napkins to get off the excess oil. Why bother eating it at all if you’re going to do that? Besides, I knew that I’d drained a lot of the oil by the translucent circle left on my paper plate. Sometimes you got a slice with a giant bubble on it, which never bothered me. Then you had kids who didn’t like eating the crust – I was one of the ones who did.

Which ever way you wound up eating it, pizza parties were a blast. You got a break from the lunch room, and the monotony of the usual brown bag midday fare. And after you cleaned up your plates and resumed the school day, your belly full and slowly digesting, you could still smell the evidence of your noon-time feast.

The rest of the day would sail happily by. And there was usually at least one oil stain on my pant leg.