When Narancia finally caved to Fugo’s, and Buccellati’s, and Abbacchio’s, and Mista’s, pleas that he “stop living on grease and sugar and eat a ****ing vegetable (when Buccellati swears, he means business), he could never have known how terrible it would be.
Narancia thought that pizza would eventually fade from his mind. He would find a way to live without it. It was just going to be a matter of time until Narancia had a hundred other equally delicious, nutritionally balanced meals taking the place of pizza in his heart. Or rather, his stomach.
But it hasn’t happened. It’s been so long since Narancia has tasted the heavenly combination of crust, cheese, sauce, and every topping imaginable except pineapple because who does that to pizza, and he can’t let go of the longing.
Narancia’s heart aches when he imagines the beautiful sight of a pizza emerging from a wood-fired oven. His soul yearns for pizza. He remembers, softly, fondly, the pizza-eating days of long ago. He can taste pizza on his lips like the kiss of a lover. He can feel hot, crusty, wonderful pizza slices on his hands, ready to plunge into his stomach and become one with him.
It’s as if the beauty of pizza has left an imprint on Narancia’s very heart, as if delicious tomato sauce pumps through his veins instead of blood.
Narancia has tried every pizza substitute imaginable. He’s slapped raw tomato slices on bread with fresh mozzarella and eaten it in sheer desperation. It was delicious. It was wonderful. It was nothing compared with the glorious pizza for which his heart still yearns. Narancia has lived on pizza for so long. He is made of pizza. To stop eating pizza feels like abandoning a core part of himself.
He weeps for pizza, mourns for it, pressing a hand over his heart as if to ease the pain in his soul. The glory of pizza is etched into his memory like a physical thing. He can feel the satisfaction of a first bite of a slice of pizza in his mouth as clearly as if it were truly there. He can picture himself licking the last bit of cheese off of his fingers. His love for pizza runs too deep to be forgotten.
Everyone insisted that adopting a healthier diet would be good for Narancia’s heart. It was a lie. Narancia’s heart burns with longing for pizza. It beats faster at the sight of pizza. Long ago, it would slow to a contented, steady, thump-thump-thump when he finished an especially wonderful slice. Now Narancia’s heart feels hollow and empty and devoid of pizza.
There’s nothing worse than seeing pizza, with golden crust and perfectly toasted cheese and mouthwateringly delicious toppings, disappearing into the gullets of other people. Even after the diners have left, the memory of the sight haunts Narancia. It’s like a ghost, inescapable, and it can’t be driven away no matter what Narancia does.
Narancia can’t even bring himself to mind. The ever-present spirit of pizzas eases some of the longing in his heart. Narancia’s soul still leaps when he sees a beautiful slice of pizza, even when he knows that he will never taste it. He can remember it perfectly, the too-hot first bites that burn his lips, the weight of the slice in his hands that decreases as the comforting weight in his stomach increases steadily.
Pizza, beautiful pizza, more alluring than the face of a beautiful woman, lovelier than the feathers of angels’ wings, more delicious than the ambrosia of the gods. Some day, some faraway day, Narancia will eat pizza again, and the hole in his heart will be filled. Some day. Some day. Some day.