by Pettus Read
You know there is a new day coming when you see four elderly farmers having pizza in a country store in southern Middle Tennessee talking about cattle, dry weather, and their spouses. I could not believe it either, but there they were, Mr. Jimmy, Ed Beam, Fred Billings and George Taylor sitting at the counter of the local store eating pizza from the fancy, lighted, warming rack holding single slices of the warm and cheesy concoction.
One of them looked across the counter and said, "Mr. Jimmy, aren't you and your bride about to celebrate your 50th anniversary?"
Mr. Jimmy paused a minute and wiped a string of cheese from his mouth and said, "Yep, that's right, it's next week."
Ed Beam asked, "What are you going to do that's special on the big day?"
Mr. Jimmy said, "Well, I took her up to Nashville for our 25th, maybe I'll go up there and get her."
After a hearty laugh, one of them suggested maybe he should just bring her to the store for pizza since it was the only eatery for miles and they all agreed it was excellent pizza for the per-slice price.
Mr. Jimmy then began to explain to the fellows that he had just read in the local paper that the average American eats 22.5 pounds of pizza per year. He went on to say, "I know Ed and George are saying to themselves that they don't eat that much. Just remember, per-capita average means if you don't eat your share, someone else is taking up the slack and letting out their slacks. You know, like Fred over there."
With his second piece of pizza in his mouth, Fred quipped back, "Wait a minute! I resemble that remark."
Seeing he now had the floor of discussion, Mr. Jimmy went on to explain the world of pizza consumption. "Altogether, Americans eat about 100 acres of pizza per day. An acre is the size of a football field. That means about 36,500 acres of pizza are consumed annually just in the United States."
Fred, now drooling, took the discussion platform, "I sure would like to see a pizza the size of a football field. I guess we do eat too much 'junk' food."
"Pizza is not really a 'junk' food, Fred," Mr. Jimmy went on to say. "Pizza is a very balanced meal containing healthy items from most, if not all, food groups on the USDA Food Guide Pyramid. It all depends, of course, on the type and amount of pizza you eat. Pepperoni is America's favorite topping. And, I heard that over in Japan they like squid on their pizza."
"That makes me even more proud that I live in America," said Fred. "Those squid things don't even look good out by themselves, never the less on top of a perfectly good pizza. That's just not right."
Ed Beam, after listening to Mr. Jimmy's health class discussion, joined in the conversation. He said, "The really good part about pizza is that farmers like us are what makes it possible. From the wheat crust to the cheese topping, each ingredient originated on a farm somewhere."
"Yeah, that's right!" Mr. Jimmy exclaimed. "I think I'll have another piece and help a farmer out. I've only eaten about a half-acre this year, so I need to catch up."
"Well Jimmy, have you bought a special gift for your anniversary?" Fred asked.
"I'm still looking around for just the right thing," Mr. Jimmy said.
"Well, don't do like that fellow I heard about the other day who went and bought his wife a gift for their anniversary," George Taylor piped in.
"What was that, George?" Mr. Jimmy asked as he reached for another piece of pizza.
George leaned back on the old nail keg he was sitting on and said, "It seems I heard that this man walked into a fancy store over in Memphis and went up to the perfume counter and told the clerk he'd like a bottle of expensive perfume for his wife on their anniversary."
"A nice surprise for the misses, I guess?" George said the clerk asked the man.
George then took another sip of his cold drink and said, "Then that guy told the sales lady, 'You bet, she's expecting a cruise.' "
It is amazing what you can hear in a country store.