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Chapter 2

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When I was seven, I begged my dad to let me go to school.

“Hey, sparky, I’m not so sure about that. I’m thinking they’ll tease you,” he warned.

“No they won’t. I’ll make friends,” I told him.

“They will call you weird. They’ll think you are a freak. They’re used to having pizza for lunch, not classmates.”

“I bet if I’m nice enough, they’ll be nice to me,” I told him.

“You could get hurt, what with that thin crust shell. Maybe if you were deep dish . . .”

“Deep dish pizza isn’t even pizza, dad,” I shot back.

“It’s too dangerous, Tony.” He shook his head and asked me if I wanted to watch Bob Ross. I didn’t.

After begging him for weeks, he finally signed me up for school. I spent all night rearranging my backpack and imagining what it would be like to make new friends. I say new friends, but it’s not like I had any old friends. I didn’t have any friends at all. When you’re a slice of pizza stuck on a house on a hill outside of town, you don’t exactly get a chance to be social.

That night, I imagined myself being invited to birthday parties or baseball games. Maybe I could even join soccer. I could be a goalie and use my pliable sticky hands to block shots.

The next day, I arrived to class nervous but excited.

“Be careful. You have a very . . .”

“Fragile thin crust. Yes, I know,” I interrupted.

“And stay away from pineapple.”

“I know, I know. Pineapple doesn’t belong on pizza.”

Minutes later, I arrived to my class. My teacher was friendly enough. However, she made a huge mistake. She called me by my real name.

“Is there a Pizza?”

I didn’t say anything.

“Hello, is there a Pizza here?”

“It’s Tony,” I said.

“Yeah, but here on the attendance sheet, it says your name is Pizza.”

“I go by my middle name, Tony.”

“Okay, then, we’ll call you Tony. Now, I’m curious why you’re parents named you Pizza Tony.”

“Parent,” I corrected. “I, um, live with my dad.” I stammered. I could feel the grease forming under my pizza pits. “But, see, I was named after where I was made. Pizza Tony’s on seventh street. And then I came to life when my dad dropped me in an ooze and . . . yeah.”

Awkward silence. All eyes remained fixed on me.

“Well, Pizza Tony. It is a unique name,” she said with a smile. “I think it’s great. We can call you Tony, though.”

It was too late. Everybody called me Pizza.

Right after silent reading, we had to get into groups. Madison Addison Zorkowski pushed her chair away from me and plugged her nose.

“You smell like peperoni.”

“Thank you.”

“That’s not a compliment,” she said. “Maybe you need some deodorant.”

That’s when I got nervous and cut the cheese. Literally. See, when I fart, it smells like cheese. Not stinky cheese. Not gross cheese. It smells like nice. Like a soft, smooth milky cheese. Or so I thought. But everyone laughed at me and I got more nervous and farted again.

When we worked on a poster, Austin Jones told me to stand further away so that I wouldn’t get my greasy hands on the poster board. But at one point, I got excited about an idea and left a giant greasy handprint right in the middle.

In PE, when the substitute teacher asked for the boys to line up on one side and the girls to line up on the other side, Kyle Smith pushed me away and said, “This line is for boys, not pizzas.”

I had to stand in a line of one.

Then, when we played Red Rover (a game that I’m pretty sure has been banned in every school in North America), nobody would hold my hand, so we lost. It was probably for the best. I’d never really tested how much force my arms could handle. I mean, cheese can’t be that strong, right?

Next was dodge ball, which I couldn’t play dodge ball because my dad had told me to avoid anything that might crack my fragile thin crust.

At lunchtime, every seat was taken. I wandered the cafeteria hoping someone would invite me over. Finally, I slid up against the wall and opened my jar of ranch dressing.

That’s when it happened.

“Hey Pizza boy!” Kyle yelled.

I turned around to face him and someone from across the cafeteria threw a cup of pineapples at me. I dodged it right as a cartoon of milk pelted my face.

The entire cafeteria erupted into a full-fledge food fight. I darted out the double doors, bolted down the hallway, and sat in the parking lot crying.

My dad pulled up in his birdmobile.

“Let’s go home,” he said, giving me a hug. He didn’t care that my crust was covered in food or that his white lab coat was now covered in grease.

“Did you get any pineapples on you?”


“Good, because pineapples could ruin a pizza,” he pointed out.

I clicked on my seatbelt and stared out the window. “You were right, dad. They thought I was a freak.”

“You’re not a freak. You’re special,” he said. I’ve learned that “you’re special” is just a code word parents use for saying, “you’re weird.” I don’t want to be weird. I just want to be normal.

I cried all night and never went back to school. My dad continued to homeschool me. The next day, he gave me an award for being the Best in Class. It was the first of ten awards that I would win at the Dr. Repugno’s Academy of Academic Excellence that year. I also got Congratulations on Your Immune System, which at most schools is called Perfect Attendance. Oh, and I won the athlete of the year, even though I didn’t play any sports. My dad even built a trophy case for me, which is as awkward as it sounds.

I remained in our lair for the next four years, scared of having my thin crust crushed and terrified of being known as the weirdo. I never thought I would go back into town. I figured I would spend my life as a lab assistant for a not-really-all-that-mad scientist. I’d make birdhouses.

But all of that was about to change on an epic day that would forever be known in our city as Pizza Night. And that’s when our story begins. On a normal Friday morning that sent me into the wildest adventures imaginable.

I didn’t wake up this morning planning to leave the lair. I figured I’d read a book or maybe play some video games – non-violent ones, of course, which in my house means Tetris. It’s a game where you stack blocks and watch them disappear.

I walked out to the kitchen and poured myself a bowl of parmesan cheese and waited for my dad to walk in. Nothing happened.

“Dad? You there?”


“Well, he must be in his lab,” I muttered. Sometimes he gets so into birdhouses he blocks everything else out. After guzzling a glass of ranch dressing, I sauntered down the hallway and into the lab. He wasn’t there.

“Hey dad, where are you?”

Still nothing. I ran up the stairs and looked all around.

“Dad? I’m a little too old for hide and seek. Where are you?”

No answer.

He didn’t leave a note or anything. He was just . . . gone. I called his cell phone, but all I heard was a loud machine humming. Almost like a kitchen appliance. Was he at a bakery or something? I called again but it went straight to his voicemail.

“I’m sure he’s just at the store. We probably ran out of peppers or something,” I muttered, but I knew that didn’t make any sense. Our kitchen was fully stocked with groceries.

An hour went by. He wasn’t there.  Maybe he’s on a bird-watching expedition. That wasn’t like him, though. He always left notes and notes explaining his notes and notes explaining the order of his notes. And then a note explaining the need for a note nomenclature and taxonomy and then a list of peer reviewed references explaining his previous note.

Another hour passed.

I’ve got to find him. He’s probably in danger. No, I can’t do this. No way. People are brutal to pizzas. I should just stay here at home.

I imagined myself going to town. Then I pictured the townspeople lobbing objects at my fragile thin crust and calling me “grease face” and stepping away from me when I stood on the sidewalk. Just stay at home, Tony. I called his cell phone and again it went straight to his voicemail. Then it hit me. Someone kidnapped him.

Someone had taken him to use his evil genius. They were probably going to probe his mind in order to create some diabolical weapon to use against the city. To be honest, I didn’t care about the city. People were mean. They probably deserved to get shrunk by a shrink ray. But I cared about my dad. He was the one person who had always loved me and now I had to find him.

I looked at the mirror and took a deep breath. “Okay, Tony, you can do it. You’ll be just fine.” The truth is, I was terrified.

I adjusted the stray strands of cheese from my face.

“Okay. I can do this. I can do this.”

I flexed my cheesy muscles. They jiggled and wobbled. This wasn’t helping at all.

I took a deep breath, opened the door, and stepped out into the glaring sunlight. It was so bright compared to our lair.

I headed down our crooked driveway shouting his name. Maybe he was doing yard work or something.

“Dad! You there? Dad!”

“Dr. Repugno!”

When he didn’t answer, I started calling his entire name. “Dr. Calvin Leslie Repugno!”

Still nothing.

I had no other option. I needed to go into town.

Discussion Questions

  1. How does Tony feel about spending his days at home? What clues from the text can back up your assertion?
  2. What could his school have done to make his experience better?
  3. Where do you think his dad went? Make a prediction.