Where do you get pizza in northeastern PA with Eric Clapton?

Donned in my “the best girls are from Virginia” tee I found myself craving pizza this evening. A friend of mine laughed when I mused, “Where do you get your beer and pizza around here?” In northeastern PA, there is a pizzeria and a “beverage” store on every corner, and most pizzerias sell beer. (These days, there’s a pizzeria, a bar, a church and a karate studio on every corner.)

Well, where I grew up, you got your beer at Food Lion and ordered a pizza from some national chain, okay? I know that Big Ten’s wood-grilled pizza (in Lehman) is the best I’ve ever eaten, but I don’t feel like driving all the way out there on a Sunday night…

So, tonight my answer tonight was: Pizza Bella on, as the locals call it, “the ave.” (Wyoming Avenue, Rt. 11, Forty-Fort.) They had a two-slice special so I ordered that, complete with Coke, thankfully they had Coke. I rarely indulge in the high fructose pleasure of fountain soda, but if I do, it’s definitely got to be Coca-Cola. I don’t like Pepsi. It has too much bite and too little flavor.

I found myself in a corner booth, facing the wall. How utterly lonely this is. It’s even dark over here, I thought. I don’t like eating pizza alone. Pizza, like beer, is a social event. I really only like to have it with other people. And maybe the full moon made things worse, but Madonna’s “Holiday” came on the local pop station piped through the speakers and I had to allow myself a wry smile. “It would be so nice.”

Well, tonight, Madonna, the only holiday I’m taking is a glum inner-fat kid fest. The very sweet and attentive waitress brings over my two cuts. I keep forgetting, because I rarely eat pizza, that a slice pizza in northeastern PA (NEPA, as the locals call it) is actually one-fourth of a pie. And yes, I’m probably going to eat it all in a full-moon pity fest. I sprinkle the oregano on, gear up for the Tums and dive in. The inner fat kid jumps up and down inside me (and I think I feel the booth wiggle) glad that I chose pizza over a gym membership today. I’ll join the gym tomorrow.

Just as I’m folding the second slice over and taking a long, cool gulp of my Coke, the all-too familiar chords of Eric Clapton’s “Wonderful Tonight” crawl up my spine. This song was played at every sock hop, prom and wedding I’ve ever attended, and I’ve probably attended them all. You might have remembered me there? The girl who danced like a fool to 70s disco and 90s hip hop but stepped back when all the sappy stuff came on. That’s right, I was the girl who returned to the side of the room and wished the music-nerd guy had swallowed his pride, put his video controller down and come out to the dance. I probably should have brought my Walkman of grunge rock but at that rate, I should’ve just stayed home.

It was dark in that corner of the pizzeria and I was glad the waitress was so friendly. Maybe she’d seen too many of my kind. It felt like a sad episode of Cheers. So I slow-danced my last slice, thanked her for her attentiveness and crept out into the summer heat of “the ave” to my car. There, I’d have to check for oregano between my teeth. Really, Eric, I’m only a few sizes away from that red dress. Thanks for the reassurance anyway…