Pizza as a Metaphor for Happiness
When I was very young, my father (a professor of economics at the University of Oklahoma) would hold pizza parties at our house once a year for his senior students. He and my mother would be in the kitchen with homemade pizza dough, throwing together ingredients at request, laughing, talking about world events, and throwing pizzas in the oven.
By the time I was 8, maybe even 6, this stopped. My father’s social anxiety, and the alcoholism he used to self-medicate it, made it unthinkable he’d have students in the house. Or that he’d help host a party. Or cook. Weirdly, I always understood that Darth Vader killed Anakin Skywalker, because the man my father became killed the man he once was.
I often push myself into social situations that make me uncomfortable, because I have seen what can happen if I instead always retreat from them.
I don’t think I’ve ever written about my father’s pizza parties. I couldn’t have been aware of more than 2-3 of them, given that they were annual events that ended when I was quite young. But that made an impression and even now, 40 years later, I am wistful at the thought of them. I suspect many of the gaming gatherings I have pushed for over the decades have, in part, been an effort to recreate that dynamic of fun, friendship, and intelligent conversation I remember from when I was a child.