Sometime during my childhood, I encountered the story of how Native American hunters tasted the heart of a freshly killed deer out of respect, hoping this would give them the qualities of the slain creature.
So, one of the weird things I worried about as a child was whether I could do this. Raw hearts seemed horrible.
Flash forward to my twenties, sharing an apartment in Greenville, South Carolina, with a rotating cast of characters. We all had fun things we did as roommates. One of them and I went to an old movie theater nearby for their midnight movies in our pajamas. Then, she promptly fell asleep.
Michele and I also saw Fuel in concert at the Anderson County Fairgrounds, her guilty 90s college rock band crush, along with Duran Duran, Sarah McLaughlin and Tori Amos in various cities. So, fun with this lady was no slouch. Also, Pop-Up Videos, I Love the 80s, and I Love the 90s, on repeat.
Another roommate and I liked to jet off to Papa John’s in our little respective ’88 Ford Festiva or early 90s Geo Metro, grab pizza, debate getting a two-liter, and trundle it all home to watch Lost or The Amazing Race. The soda question was one thing. The greater debate was whether to wait or eat a hot slice immediately on the drive home.
The scents of mozzarella, sauce and hot cardboard mingled in the tiny Chevy. I craned around in my seat, and opened the box at a 30 degree angle. I avoided the foil-lidded garlic butter and space-green pepperoncinis, and withdrew a pepperoni slice.
I had taken the heart of the pizza.
I ate it hurtling down Highway 153 between Easley and Powdersville, thanking the Papa and the pizza for their gift, hoping it would confer upon me pizza’s qualities of zestiness, irresistibility and fun. I told Bethannie all about it, and she smiled and nodded like, “I hear you talking, but really just hand me my pizza.”
I live in Brooklyn now, the land of the slice (best in the world), and my wife, yesterday, wanted Dominoes. I asked Rachel no questions, and when I told her about the heart of the kill, she didn’t bat an eye.