So this will take some time to get to what I’m driving at, but so be it.
Supertramp’s “Breakfast in America” is the first album I ever owned. And I had two copies of it – one in Greensburg and one in Albuquerque. I have no clue what it was about Supertramp that appealed to me – the iconic cover art maybe? – but this was an album that I couldn’t get enough of and listened to front to back any chance I had.
Originally, the copy that I had was in Greensburg, and I vividly remember returning to Albuquerque after being with my Dad for the summer and DEMANDING that my Mom stop on the way home from the airport in order to get a copy. To my surprise, I didn’t even have to really put up a big fight – even though I was prepared to – in order to get her to stop and get one. I found out in time that she loved them, too, and we spent a lot of time singing “The Logical Song,” and “Goodbye Stranger,” and “Child of Vision,” which I really didn’t like at the time and looked at as a four minute break between “Breakfast in America” and “Take the Long Way Home.”
That day of return actually was always a rough one for me. Leaving my Dad and all of my friends in Greensburg always, always sucked. Knowing that it would be another nine months before I returned was incredibly difficult. I couldn’t get it through my head why my brother, Jantson, was always so happy to get back to Mom. Looking back on it now, I get it. But perspective wasn’t something I had a lot of when I was eight. (Incidentally, I think there are stories and stories and stories locked in there about why – exactly – one child sees things one way with one parent while another sees things completely differently with that same parent – and I don’t say that as a criticism of anybody involved in that equation).
But from my point of view – looking back on things with almost 40 years’ worth of perspective at this point – I know that that day of return was also a good day for me. What always started as a miserable morning typically turned in to some fun. Looking back, I know that this is because my Mom was always in such a great mood to have us back. As a result, she was on her best behavior for a week or two as well.
Our August return almost always included in a new trailer or apartment when we got back. Whether in Rio Rancho or somewhere off Juan Tabo, it was almost never the same place as when we had left for Greensburg in June. And that meant a new school, once again a new beginning. While some people may enjoy that, for me it was starting all over and I hated it. I still have so many friends from my summers in Greensburg – I have none from my school years in Albuquerque.
But that specific night, after landing and stopping at Coronado Mall to pick up a copy of “Breakfast in America” – remember me saying that she was at her best, too??? – we stopped to eat at Pizza Hut, finding that they had almost the ENTIRE album on the jukebox. My Mom gave me enough quarters to play everything they had – I have no idea how much that meant in 1979 – $1?, $2? but I can assure you that I loved it. And I loved – and was surprised that my Mom knew all of the songs when we sat at the table and scarfed down our pizza.
Which brings me to a tangent about Pizza Hut itself. Pizza wasn’t a huge thing in Albuquerque. In fact, I remember eating at Pizza Hut or getting a slice at Godfather’s. And that’s it. It just wasn’t part of the typical things we ate there.
For all I know there were plenty of other shops – but I don’t remember any of them. For the life of me, I certainly don’t remember us ever getting one delivered. And that’s so foreign to me compared to what it’s like in Greensburg, where we have a serious abundance of great spots to choose from (with the notable exception of a true Neopolitan pie – can somebody PLEASE get on that so I don’t have to drive to Pittsburgh for it???).
My mouth is seriously watering even looking at that (it’s from Il Pizzaiolo, btw).
Any time that we had the opportunity to go out to eat, I almost always begged to go to Pizza Hut – but it had to be THAT Pizza Hut, because the other one in Albuquerque didn’t have those songs on the jukebox (the gall!). And that caused problems at times depending on where we lived and what kind of mood my Mom was in. Things weren’t always as great as they were that first week after we returned…
What brought this on, you might ask? Did I randomly hear a Supertramp song? Did I eat at a Pizza Hut last night? No and no. But I did drive past one that had been converted to a pawn shop and that got me to thinking about all of this.
And it also got me to thinking about this: is there a more iconic building design than Pizza Hut? I mean, every single one of them looks the same (I know that’s not that crazy), but when they’ve gone out of business and converted to whatever else, you STILL know what it was – and I’m not sure that we can say this about every other place? I mean, McDonald’s has the golden arches, but not every McDonald’s looks exactly the same. And I can’t remember ever seeing a McDonalds that went out of business and became something else.
Is there something to be said about this, or am I just making too much of it? Yeah, probably the latter, I know. (I actually just googled “converted Pizza Huts,” and found this right off the bat, so I guess I’m not totally alone in this).
I know, all of that from driving past a converted Pizza Hut. Welcome to my head.