Pizza brings us together, in life and in TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge

While playing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge, I remember that the titular reptiles and the guys I lived with after college weren’t that different. We are all united, even healed, by the power of a fatty slice.

During my senior year of college, three of my high school friends — who all worked in the same neighborhood where we went to school — started renting the top floor of a duplex together in the nearest town. . There wasn’t much room for three grown men, and one of them had to sleep in a makeshift room where one of the walls was just a blanket draped between two real walls. Even so, when I graduated and got a job at the local Best Buy, I also moved in.

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The apartment was small, but big enough to accommodate my post-college excitement. I was an RA in college and the evangelical university I went to had an alcohol policy. If I was to be expected to report people for breaking the rule, I felt I had to follow it myself, so I didn’t drink any alcohol at all while working for the school . (Now, years later, I just wouldn’t follow the stupid rule AND I wouldn’t report anyone for not following the stupid rule, but you live and learn.)

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The result was that when I graduated from college, I was pretty much where a lot of people were when they turned 21. The first few weekends after college, my friends and I took trips to the local liquor store (which remains much better stocked than anything near me now) and, not understanding the differences more fine between an IPA and a lager, or a porter and a stout, I bought a lot of beers based on which label had the best vibes.

It was summer when I moved in, and in all my memories of that time, I am slightly or very sweaty. There was a Taco Bell a few doors down and a Hungry Howie a little further down the street, so we frequently ate junk food, drank hard ciders, and watched TV. When we moved down the street to another rental owned by our landlord – this one a full house – this trend continued. We all had our own bedrooms, plus a full dining room. But, we still ate most of our meals on the couch, gathered around It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia or Rick and Morty on TV.

So instead of using it to eat meals – which the couch and, occasionally, a TV tray had covered – the dining room became home to a fun group project that also gamified our food consumption. junk food: The Pizza Wall.

Every time we got a pizza from a new place, we cut out the lid and attached it to the wall. The collage included our favorite chains, like Jets, whose Detroit-style pizza gave our wall the rare rectangular box. It also included local joints – one of a glitzy bar and grill that served hearty fare and played music videos on chandeliers built from flat-screen TVs of decreasing sizes. On at least one occasion, a gas station with a surprisingly good pie was put up against the wall. The project inspired us to expand our horizons beyond the chain location down the street, beyond the joints we already knew we loved. If we were to eat junk food, we could at least become experts in the vast array of junk food our region had to offer.

In the summer of 2017, a friend of mine was getting married and getting ready to move out. The last weekend we would all be in the house together, we went to some of the remaining places we were planning on visiting. The most important stop was a small restaurant just across the border that offered a huge 468 square inch pizza whose menu says “feeds 6-10 people”. We took that as a challenge and rose to it. The pizza wall finally had its cornerstone.

So when I finished Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge and got a congratulations screen where the gang celebrated their victory by eating pizza (the very snack that gave them health during missions), it seemed perfectly logical to me. The wonderful combination of bread, tomato sauce and cheese was, for me and the boys, both the victory and the means by which we got there.

When I got married in the summer of 2018, it was my turn to move. But, the Pizza Wall remained. Now, four years later, my wife and I eat pizza every Friday night. Although we make our own, it’s still a journey – not to find the best pie a restaurant has to offer, but the best recipe we can make ourselves. This tradition isn’t really about pizza, and neither is the pizza wall. And, not to be blasphemous, but I don’t think it’s really pizza for turtles either. Pizza is a symbol of community – a beautiful whole pie made up of individual slices. When we share a slice, what we’re really doing is sharing our lives together. And if that doesn’t deserve a warm “Cowabunga!”, I don’t know what it does.


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