Sometimes You Just Want Frozen Pizza: A Metaphor for Happiness

Chances are — unless you are some sort of barbarian — there are at least three numbers for local pizzerias in your contacts list. When the craving hits, you either call one of said pizzerias or trek over and grab a slice. For the purpose of this metaphor, let’s say your local pizzeria is called Famiglia Pizza. At the exact moment that you decide you want pizza, you don’t say to yourself “I can really go for some Famiglia pizza”. You say to yourself “I want pizza”. Does this slight difference matter?

Upon further googling, it is actually a successful chain.

If we break this thought process down, you are looking for the construct you know as pizza and Famiglia so happens to be a supplier. Pizza is the goal and Famiglia becomes a means to an end. This difference matters. To begin to see the point of this, a second example is required. Occasionally a similar craving will strike and you will say to yourself “I want Dominos.” Notice that this thought was not predicated by a want of pizza. You sought to get Domino’s (who is not the supplier of pizza, but its own thing). Your brain categorizes Domino’s and the traditional pizza experience as two very different things. As a child of the 90’s who grew up on rectangles of Ellio’s frozen pizza, this distinction between classifications became very clear — and being aware of classifications is integral to being happy.

A classic.

Why are classifications so important? Well, a big part of growing up is the ability to see something (or someone) for what it is and either accept it as such or move on. For example, I have a friend who we will call Henry for the sake of this article. Henry is a great guy, occasionally fun, and generally un-involved. I classify him as a friend, but he has taken on the role of drinking buddy more than anything else. We don’t talk much when we aren’t in each other’s immediate presence, nor do we pretend that we do. Often we will meet up for a drink, celebrate our respective successes, listen to the other party’s woes, and then that will be that. There is no underlying commitment of friendship or actual interest in each other’s life. We hope the other party is doing well, but neither of us is invested deeply in the other. Our relationship is a free bar-stool therapy session.

I sometimes find that I am too burnt out on life to really engage in meaningful conversation. Not that I am incapable at the time, just that it seems daunting. I am looking for something in between small talk and true relational bonding. This is where Henry comes in. I know that since we are occasionally a part of each other’s lives we can talk a bit more plainly than I would to a stranger. But I also know that there is not much required of me, and that I can vent without being held accountable for what I say. Henry feels the same and will often admit things to me that he wouldn’t otherwise in his group of close friends. Why? Because there is no chance of me telling anyone. I’m removed from the inner circle of his life and he is from mine. A sort of doctor patient confidentiality agreement.

How is Henry related to pizza classifications? I know what Henry is and he knows what I am. We don’t expect any more or less from each other than we give. Though Henry is considered a friend — much like Domino’s is considered pizza — I call him when I am looking for a specific brand of friend. Just like how I wouldn’t order Domino’s and expect authentic New York pizza. By understanding my own expectations of Henry I am not let down.

This is very much echoed in the dating world. With a large portion of singles relying on apps like Tinder and OKCupid — subgroups begin to form. There are those who are looking for companionship. Those who are looking to settle down. And then there are those who are just looking to hook up with anything with a pulse. The issue here is that many singles don’t understand their expectations. People are often afraid of clear intentions when it comes to love because — unlike hunger driven pizza choices — emotions are chaotic. Someone looking for a one night stand is often looked upon in a negative light, similar to the person who begins a wedding scrapbook after the second date. The ability to step back and understand what you are after is necessary to be happy. Many starry eyed waifs have been burned by a lack of clear intention.

Take the modern Tinder based frat-bro for example. Since I have really grown to enjoy using fake names while writing this, I will refer to him as Chad. Chad is the Ray-Ban wearing Sperry enthusiast that we love to despise. He has a callous on his thumb from swiping right with the intensity of a thousand suns. He is the guy who thinks dick-pics are the next logical step after getting a girls number. The guy who opens a conversation by asking if you will sleep with him. The aggressive pervert women of Tinder have come to know and hate (see: entertainment).

A pack of Chads in the wild

Despite Chad’s obvious character flaws, there is a respectable quality about him. He knows exactly what he wants and is not afraid to make his intentions clear. We may look down on his frequent attempts at securing a one night stand — but despite our personal issues with it — we wouldn’t chastise Chad for ordering Domino’s. The one night stand is the fake manufactured version of love. An illusion for those unwilling to commit to another, but with some of the benefits. Like Ellio’s is to Famiglia Pizza, the one night stand is the frozen pizza of love. Much less nutritional value, and potentially regrettable in the morning, but still under that initial classification of pizza (see: love). Perhaps Chad was burned very badly by an ex-girlfriend. Despite his reasons, he is clear about his less than amorous intent — which is in some screwed up way admirable.

Henry is the frozen pizza version of friendship to me. I am content with this. Do you see what I’m getting at with this “Frozen-Pizza Version” stuff? By being able to draw distinctions between objects of a similar nature, we are able to bypass some of the chaos of unknowing. This actually has to do with the principle of linguistic relativity (commonly known as Sapir-Whorf hypothesis). The hypothesis essentially says that our world is shaped by language, and that it is difficult to experience things that we do not have a word for. This inherently argues that further classification of something creates a better understanding and helps omit the chaos. The clichéd example is the Eskimo’s rather lengthy vocabulary for what we call snow. (A recent Washington Post article puts this number at around 50) By having terms for different states or types of snow the Eskimos can easily classify and understand it. I classify my needs similarly: pizza, frozen pizza, Dominos. I mean three different things with each of those. By classifying what I want I am rarely disappointed and enjoy things for what they are — because sometimes, I just want frozen pizza.

Further Reading and Examples:

Common Frozen Pizza Analogies and Their Equivalents:

  • Coffee → Starbucks
  • Films → Romantic Comedies
  • Literature → Dan Brown novels
  • Cheese → Velveeta
  • Video Games → Call of Duty
  • Cake → Entenmann’s (Yes it looks weird not in cursive)
  • Rock → Pop Music
  • Italian Food → Olive Garden

Yes I love all of the classical expectation versions of these things, and the frozen pizza versions I’ve listed. All for different reasons at different times. I don’t go see How to Train Your Dragon 2 expecting a Scorsese film. And I sure as hell don’t go to Olive Garden expecting grandma’s cooking. But sometimes processed bread-sticks and shitty tomato sauce are just what I need.

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