Dear Totino’s Party Pizza,
Why do we ever fight? I may say some hurtful things in the heat of the moment, usually when standing on a scale, but I always come back, don’t I? You know I can’t stay mad at you.
Totino’s Party Pizza, you are the greatest of economy meals. I’ve found you in Wal-Mart’s freezer section for as little as $0.99–a delicious, cheesy, crisp crust pizza for only a dollar and ready in ten minutes. I may occasionally flirt with Top Ramen or cereal, but you know I always come back.
You forgave me for my brief fling with Tony’s Original Crust Four Cheese Pizza. When I got my first job out of college, I guess I wanted to prove to the world I was a high-rolling success and could splurge on a $2.99 frozen pizza, but our chemistry just wasn’t the same. Every night with Tony’s Original Crust Four Cheese Pizza, I found myself thinking of you and remembering how many times it had been just the two of us on a Friday night, sharing a romantic $0.99 dinner.
We’ve had our rough spots. You always suspected my wife was scheming to keep us apart, and now I’m ready to admit your suspicions had some merit. When my wife was ready to give birth to our second son and she asked me to take her to the hospital, she appeared very calm, so I asked if I had time to eat something first because I had just returned from work and knew I wouldn’t get to eat for what might be a dozen hours until delivery. I popped you in the oven, Totino’s Party Pizza, and when I was done eating thirty minutes later, I took my wife to the hospital where she gave birth within twenty-five minutes of arrival and too late for her to receive an epidural. Of course I wouldn’t have waited so long if I had known she was so close to delivery, and I also wouldn’t have paused so long in the lobby to point out to her a funny part of The Simpsons episode playing on the waiting room TV, but I can’t accept all of the blame. I blame her for that hypno-birthing technique she insisted upon that made everything she said seem so preternaturally calm like she was on tranquilizers and made her request to go to the hospital sound optional. This “misunderstanding” is why my wife stopped buying you for a year, and bristled when I mentioned your name, and why I could only spend time with you while my wife was out of town.
Sometimes you have to turn a blind eye in a relationship and overlook faults, and that’s why it doesn’t matter to me that you aren’t made with 100% real cheese, although I don’t quite understand how cheese can be imitated. And I don’t listen to the warnings of the Food and Drug Administration when they say you contain four times the daily recommended limit of trans fat. This warning doesn’t bother me because I don’t understand what trans fat is, and I’ve made an effort to remain ignorant so I can keep pretending it might be good for me. I like to imagine “trans” is short for “transitional”, as though a high dose of trans fat will improve one’s ability to deal with difficult life transitions such as a move or a new job or a second child coming at the same time your wife is mad at you and won’t let you eat your favorite frozen pizza.
I can’t find you here in Shanghai, but I think about you all the time. I recently saw you at an imported food store. My heart beat faster as I spotted your familiar red packaging across the room in the freezer section. Time seemed to slow down as I reached for you and felt those old sentimental feelings begin to surface as memories of bachelorhood, poverty, and the inability-to-cook all flashed through my mind in an instant, but I paused when I spotted your imported price tag of $6.00. I like you, Totino’s Party Pizza, but I only $0.99 like you. A $6.00 frozen pizza should be something you’re willing to take home to share with your mom.
My wife is currently in the US, and when she asked if I wanted her to bring anything back, I told her I wanted twenty Totino’s pizzas. She reminded me that even if she could keep you cold on the flight, we wouldn’t have room in our freezer for more than three or four. I insisted we could buy a second refrigerator, but she argued this would increase the average cost of each pizza to about $40. Sorry, Totino’s Party Pizza. I like you, but I don’t $40 like you.