Originally Published 04/11/2011 05:44:42 AM


Photo Source: Jessica Beebe

“Midniiiiiiiight…and I’m’a waiting on the twelve oh’five…”

“Everybody really gets up and goes when this one comes on,” said the woman sitting next to my mother as Juice Newton played with the Queen of Hearts in the Armory. I was sitting and staying, probably because I was afraid of falling on my butt yet-again. After-school rollerskating was a bitch for a little mama’s boy with weak ankles and weak sack like me.

I think mom was wearing her all-the-flags-of-the-world-on-red poly-nylon blend shirt, and maybe the necklace with silver pendant and turquoise ball that I flushed down the toilet once. I don’t know who she was sitting next to, but she seemed nice. And if she said anything about my not getting up and getting down with Juice, it wasn’t like a scolding. Enablers everywhere…

Eventually I got up and joined the “fun,” though. I remember gently standing up and fighting the feeling of rolling around with absolutely zero control, totally forgetting about the little toe brake thing. Bambi on borrowed wheels. Eventually I was able to move a little; timid, awkward-as-hell, but moving, well aware that as I was holding on to a whim and a prayer on my slow glide to China I was being lapped multiple times by the rest of the kids. And then I fell on my butt.

“The Joker is the only foooool…..”

Eventually mom probably made a mercy call, just like those called for my tee-ball team, which was routinely crushed on the way to an 0-whatever record for my lone season, and I got my recompense at Pizza Hut. Dad always got one large cheese for all four of us. We always perused the menu, with its grease-befouled plastic cover and cloth border, and asked for toppings, but the old man always blew us off, saying “you wouldn’t like that.” I didn’t realize it back then, of course, but toppings cost extra. Times were hard even then, and I love that he was so gentle while jumping on the grenade. Also, he hated, and still hates, most toppings himself.

And hell, a cheese-only pan pizza and a Pepsi in those marbled plastic cups were perfectly fine with me. My brother and I had a blast blowing bubbles with our straws, trying to make Pepsi volcanoes. And it was always so cozy in the restaurant, with the low lights and wood-paneled walls, the red check pattern everywhere, the fluorescents over the salad bar and the neon. And the juke seemingly perpetually played Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney’s “Ebony and Ivory” or Lindsey Buckingham’s “Trouble” or Greg Kihn’s “The Breakup Song” as we threw quarter after quarter into the table-top Pac-Man game.

I never selected “Queen of Hearts,” believe it or not. But I loved the rest of the Pizza Hut soundtrack. It always made the pain in my butt from falling on the hard floor of the Armory a little easier to sit through.

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