Copyright 1991 and 2022 © by Michael Soetaert.  Published by the Holy Grail Press, Portland, Oregon.

Anyone who’d copy this book in any way whatsoever without the expressed written permission of me, the author, is pond slime, toilet scum, cesspool sludge, and the insult of your choice.  And further, that before insulted person will probably need a pretty good lawyer.

 

Any real person who wants to claim that any of the events, situations, descriptions, or characters in this story represents them or any concept of reality that they happen to have, is wrong.  Good, affordable therapy is available.

Foreword

 

It was early in 1976 that Giovoni first came up with the idea of a reunion.  At that time the Pizza Family hadn’t worked together for nearly two years.

As Papa recalls, “Even if there hadn’t been conceptual problems with the basic storyline, there was sill that whole thing with Celest and Romona that hadn’t been worked out yet, and Mama was getting ready to go into the recording studio and just signed a 48 city contract, touring with the Bee Gees.”

Giovoni was, however, able to sell his script, “Ninja Nuns from Hell,” to a reptile act from Dubuque.

and Mama was still in Sweden under the care of the famous Dr. Ivan Tupidsay, suffering from Disco Trauma.

It wasn’t until 1982 that the idea of a reunion re-surfaced.  It was Romona who came up with a script this time.  Ravioli, however, refused to work with Mary Ann Joblonski, the stand-in that Romona had cast to play the part of Celest,

Says Papa, “The script was pretty weak to begin with.  I mean, who cares about a stranded alien who is befriended by a little boy?"

 

It wasn’t until 1990 that a reunion became a reality.

 

To quote Papa, “We were lucky to begin production when we did.  After all, Celest wasn’t scheduled to get out until ’93.”

 

“Overall, I consider prison to have been a positive experience,” commented Celest, “for it was there that I worked out all my resentment towards Romona.  My only regret is the ordeal we put Baby Peperoni through.”

 

It was a tough decision to begin production without Baby Peperoni.  Recalls Papa, “What the hell?  She was easier to write out than Sam would have been.”

 

The reunion, however, was complete when Baby Peperoni appeared on the set.

 

“It was a touching sight,” Papa remembers, “to see everyone together again and know the police weren’t on their way.  It felt good to be together again.”

 

Earl Eldridge

Napal 1991

As Papa Pizza came home one evening early in December, he couldn’t help but be overwhelmed by the warm glow of the Christmas spirit.  True, he couldn’t afford a very fancy Christmas this year.  With more and more people hooking up to the city sewer system, fewer and fewer people needed their cesspools cleaned out anymore.  But still, Papa managed to make ends meet, and he was certain his family understood.  They would be content with the togetherness and love that Christmas was really about, and would expect no more than the token gifts that he and Mama had been able to piece together out of the bits of lumber and scrap material he had found in the garage and attic.

But like kids everywhere, Papa’s children had Christmas dreams.

“Gee Papa,” said Giovoni, “I hope we don’t get any of that homemade crap again this year.”

 

“Yeah, Papa,” Ravioli added, “if I don’t get the new Video Vomit Home Entertainment System I could grow up to be socially maladjusted, thus causing you latent guilt because of stimulus deprivation during my informative years.”

 

“Papa, I just gotta get a Holly Hooker doll.  It’s educational, you know,” Celest said.

 

And Romano joined in, “If I don’t get the new GI Joe Limited Nuclear Assault set, complete with 50,000 miniature body bags, I just don't know what I'll do!" 

Of course, Sam would have been content with just about anything, but it was Mama who was the most upset.  She wanted to win the city’s annual decorating contest.

“How can we ever face our neighbors with just a plain old house?” Mama lamented.

 

Papa was quick to point out that none of their neighbors would be strolling by for another six to ten years, but that didn’t seem to matter to Mama.

It was Papa, though, who wanted the most.  He wanted some way to pay for all this stuff.

As always, Mama was supportive of Papa, especially when it came to showing the rest of the family what the true meaning of Christmas really was.

Papa knew he could always get a job working nights at Lou’s Booze, and the pay was good...

 

“Gee, yeah, Papa,” said Romona, “and the crooks usually only shoot to wound when they rob the place.”

 

... but Papa decided not to.

“I could have expected you to weasel out of spending any money on your family!” Mama screamed. 

 

“But Mama!” pleaded Papa, “we have no money to spend!”

 

“Once a cheapskate, always a cheapskate!”

So Papa decided to check-out the want ads in the daily paper.  Papa was getting discouraged when he suddenly saw an ad that promised hope.

 

“That’s the job for me!” Papa shouted.

The next thing Papa knew he was sitting in front of Mr. Chester A. Softpickle, the general manager at Doodle’s Department Store.

Mr. Softpickle said, “I’ll level with ya, Mr. Pizza (I can call you Mr. Pizza?  Good.), being a Santa Claus at Doodle’s is no piece of cake, so to speak.  I think I can honestly say that just maybe it might possibly be one of the most demanding jobs in the world, or not – hard to tell.  Let me put it to you simply:  Our Santa Claus here has a reputation:  What you promise, they get.  Remember that.  Last year we had a kid who wanted a real nuclear reactor.  Remember the meltdown at New Bedford last spring?  Yeah, that was one of ours (page 812, Fall Catalogue).  Suffice it to say, Mr. Pizza, that when you put on our Santa Suit, you’re not just a man pretending to be Santa Claus – you are Santa Claus.  You become a person capable of granting miracles, Mr. Pizza.  We have a whole store full of people out there who want – people who expect – a miracle, many of who have been waiting out there in line for over three days now.  One final thing, Mr. Pizza, we here at Doodle’s offer pre-arrangement plans (page 1,314, Spring Sales Supplement Catalogue) – just something to consider.

Maybe the suit was a bit big, and maybe they had lost the beard, but Papa couldn’t help but feel like Santa when he put it on.  Papa was ready to face the crowd.

The crowd was ready for Santa, too.

Papa did the only sensible thing he could do – he ran like hell.

Papa would have been a goner if he hadn't, by luck, found an unlocked door to hide behind.

It was by even more luck that the door happened to be the back way into Mr. Softpickle’s office, where Papa overheard Mr. Softpickle talking with his assistant manager, Mr. Klinghopper.

“The crowd’s surely killed poor old Santa by now,” said Mr. Klinghopper.  “Should I go ahead and call the insurance company so they can have our check ready by tomorrow?”

 

“Naw,” Mr. Softpickle replied, “we’d better wait until it’s official.  That one we had two years ago hung on for almost three weeks before his life support machine mysteriously malfunctioned.”

The next thing Papa knew he was sitting in front of Mr. Chester A. Softpickle, the general manager at Doodle’s Department Store.

Papa was appalled!  Papa was even more appalled when they offered to pay him off.

 

Said Papa, “You mean to tell me that you expect me to keep my mouth shut for a measly thousand dollars?”

 

“Ah, pretty much so, yeah,” replied Mr. Softpickle.

Papa left the office completely disappointed with human nature.  Not that Doodle’s Department Store and tried to pay him off, but that he hadn’t held out for more than a thousand.

At least Papa was able to buy all the presents his kids wanted for Christmas...

...and make their house the most garish place in town.

Unfortunately, it just wasn’t garish enough.

 

“I’m sorry Mrs. Pizza,” said the lady from the Official Decoration Committee, “it’s just that your house lacks personality.  It lacks charm.  It lacks being in a more affluent part of the city.”

Still, Papa hadn't wasted his money on the kids' presents

“What good’s a Holly Hooker doll without Pete Pimp or his Pimpmobile (13” action figures sold separately)?” asked Celest.

 

“All these cartridges stink!” Ravioli complained.  “You’d think you’d at least have enough sense to get Maggot Madness or Axe Arcade.®  How disappointing!”

 

Said Giovani, “Gee, Papa, this wasn’t exactly what I had in mind...”

 

“What a rip-off!” Romona yelled.  “If they say 50,000 body bags in here you’d think they’d put 50,000 body bags in here.  Are you kiddin’?  There’s only 48,917!  They cut us short 1,083 body bags.  I want those body bags!”

The only person who wasn’t complaining was Sam.  But then again, Sam never said anything.

Papa was never more depressed in his entire life.  All he had wanted was for his family to have a wonderful Christmas, but it had turned into an absolute disaster.  None of the kids would speak to him.  Mama had locked herself in the bathroom and wouldn’t stop crying.  Even Seymour the Bird stopped flying through unexpectantly.  And what was worse, Papa was out of beer.  Papa decided to do the only sensible thing – go stand out in the backyard and hope to freeze to death.

It was there in the backyard, with his toes slowly freezing and his fingers turning blue, that Papa suddenly saw through the billowing smoke from the sludge factory a star that shone brighter than any he had ever seen before.

And in the stillness of the frozen air, Papa heard the sex offenders at the state prison softly singing “Silent Night.”

 

And it was then that Papa knew that Christmas can’t be wrapped in boxes or put up on your house.  Christmas can’t be begged for from Santa Claus or found at the shopping mall.  The only place to find Christmas is in your heart.

And then Papa thought of his family – his wife and his children, his bird that kept coming back.  And he thought that if only he could get them out here then they, too, would know what Christmas really meant...

...or maybe not