Lying in a pool of Piña Colada wearing a wetsuit and diving mask, Will Forte’s character Tandy Miller (“The Last Man On Earth”) leads the other survivors in song as the microwave counts down: “Frozen pizza, frozen frozen pizza…” Years after a virus wiped nearly every person and animal from the planet, this misfit crew have discovered a fully self-sustaining building, with electricity and running water, complete with refrigeration, ice, blenders, and still-viable pizza (watch the clip, or the episode).
With so many losses and great unknowns, these characters center themselves around the simple joys of food and friends. Are we remembering to do that?
Last week with the country navigating through the chaos of an unexpected election result, my wife and I did the rational thing: escaped with the kids to a waterpark, on a trip which was planned months ago but in retrospect was very well-timed. With my phone unplugged and twitter disconnected…we laughed, we splashed, we joked, we sang, we smiled and relished a deep, pure, unspoilable family joy. Joy had not been the prevailing emotion before that point.
I find it easy to complicate, overthink, and obsess on dynamics over which I have no control. Tandy Miller does not have this problem, as he’s quite skilled at keeping things basic and fun. While this show is not appropriate for children, the frozen pizza song certainly is. My kids have learned it and they know the story line and what that song represents: in any circumstance, be ready to find your frozen pizza moment, and protect the joy that it gives you.
In related news, 24 frozen deep dish pizzas just arrived from Chicago as part of a mega-order I placed to celebrate the Cubs winning the World Series. As much as I’d like to eat them all, they are mostly for friends wishing to savor this moment, enjoy that great city and its pie, and minimize shipping costs through sharing a large order. Shocking election results can’t change the Cubs’ championship, nor can it change the narrow loss by my other-hometown Cleveland Indians in one of the most epic World Series finishes in history. Life is complicated…being from both cities I enjoyed AMAZING baseball and am just going to focus on the pizza at this point, and savor the memories. As a family I hope we keep singing that goofy song for years, channeling Will Forte as an odd sort of spiritual guide.
The next four years will unfortunately highlight our divisions as a nation. Food (even frozen pizza) can be an amazing common ground, a common denominator which can be intensely shared, whether enjoying foods we’ve jointly loved for years, or learning new cuisines and cultures. Our friends LOVED cooking up their Lou Malnati’s pizzas, and it was a joy to hear how much it meant to them. I hope you’ll not only engage in self-care but share experiences with others, looking into people’s eyes not just at headlines and demographics. Get with your tribe, engage with others who aren’t in your usual circle, indulge a little, and throw in a little poorly-pitched group singing. We’ll all chew through this together.
NOTE: I haven’t posted in a while, and am considering getting back into a rhythm. If you’d like to see more posts, recipes, cooking demo’s, etc, please let me know and I may reach out to get more focused on what would be of most interest.