Derek Sisterhen

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When you eat pizza off the floor

I looked at the floor. I saw a dust bunny under the cabinet. A little piece of mulch and what was once a fresh Cheerio were there, too, not very far from the remains of the pizza. But, perhaps, they were just far enough…

There’s this moment when food falls to the floor – the slow-motion moment – when you know that you’re about to be confronted with a decision.

Do I eat it?

We’ve even crafted food-drop rules for these circumstances, to make the decision a little easier. You know, the five-second rule.

There’s the ten-second rule when necessary, particularly when the food that fell is hard and round and has rolled inconveniently from reach – did it roll under the couch? – and you need a little “overtime” in the food-drop ruling for the search and rescue.

Eating Food Off the Floor 3

The best pizza $3.99 can buy

We’re frequenters of Trader Joe’s. They have this frozen pizza there that is magnificent on all fronts. First, it’s called Pizza Parlanno. Now, that’s a good name for a pizza, a noble name; a worthy provider of sustenance for our family.

Second, the toppings, though frozen, are incredibly tasty. Yellow peppers, green peppers, sausage, pepperoni, and an artisan blend of cheeses.

Third, all of this can be yours for $3.99. Yes. That’s right: $3.99.

It was one of those days when you come home from work and no one wants to go back to work in the kitchen. Plus, everyone in our family is virtually always in the mood for that circular flatbread amazingness from the old country. Because I’m a problem solver, I announced my intentions to go to Trader Joe’s and procure The Pizza.


When The Pizza came out of the oven, Elisa put it on a cookie sheet so we could cut it into triangles of deliciousness. But this is where we have to out ourselves; this is where everything turned south – figuratively and literally.

We have this island in our kitchen, and the counter on the island tends to become the dumping ground of all our mail, coloring books, keys, sunglasses, iPads, phones, diapers (unused, fear not), packages of baby wipes, sippy cups, plates, coffee cups, baseball hats, partridges, and pear trees. You get the idea.

So, out comes The Pizza and onto the cookie sheet it goes. But, given the piles on the island, Elisa put the cookie sheet on the only available uncovered square inches of space: the corner. In the process of cutting the magnificence into shareable slices, just enough pressure applied via the pizza cutter on the cookie sheet at just the right spot overhanging the edge of the counter produces the inevitable outcome alluded to in the title of this writing.

Pizza on the floor.

And so there we were, the silence deafening following the landing-splatter. We looked at each other. I believe a light mist formed over my eyes, but I can’t be certain. I cycled through many emotions in a split second: frustration, sorrow, grief, anger.

What were we going to do? I looked at the floor. I saw a dust bunny under the cabinet. A little piece of mulch and what was once a fresh Cheerio were there, too, not very far from the remains of the pizza.

But, perhaps, they were just far enough…

The right thing to do

Five seconds had passed. Ten seconds. We were staring the 45-second rule in the face, and it was staring back at us to see if we would blink.

I picked up a clump of hot, melty cheese with a green pepper and pepperoni inside. I put it in my mouth.

“The Pizza need not to have died in vain!” I heard a voice say. It was my stomach.

I looked to see Elisa’s reaction. The expression on her face slid from disgust to approval; eating The Pizza off the floor was the right thing to do. It honored The Pizza, and it honored the beauty of family togetherness only dinnertime can usher forth.

And – let’s face it – everyone was hungry, and starting to get antsy. So, we set the table.

Don’t Sweat Dust Bunnies

This Sisterhen family is a persnickety lot. We don’t do disorder very well. We have a way of things and we’re a bit particular when it comes to the state of our home. But something happened when Owen arrived on the scene.

The piles on the counters occasionally get a little higher than they used to. The laundry doesn’t get folded and put away with expediency; we’re content to simply get it through the washing and drying process. Sometimes the dirty dishes collect in and around the sink while the dishwasher sits full of clean plates and cups, acting like a fancy cabinet.

This is just real life, isn’t it? I want to live where a cheap pizza can provide such simple pleasure, both to my taste buds and by making a memory for my family.

So, when your pizza falls to the floor, just remember that what matters most is the time your family has together around the dinner table, not what was on it.

And if dinner is warm, great. If it’s absent of dust bunnies, even better.


Alright, now you tell me: What the maximum amount of time you’ll allow food to stay on the floor before you eat it?  What’s your rationale?

photo credit: wEnDaLicious via photopin cc

4 Comments
  • Heather Sullivan on September 26, 2014

    Derek, this is brilliant writing. I thoroughly enjoyed it…and now I’m hungry.

    • Derek on September 26, 2014

      I appreciate you reading, Heather! And since you’re hungry, check out the frozen food aisle at Trader Joe’s…

  • Jay on September 26, 2014

    During my military days, 5 seconds was counted in a different timezone… So basically, it was still good… Still is…….. Good…

    • Derek on September 26, 2014

      Jay, that makes perfect sense to me! You know, depending on how close you are to the International Date Line, I think it allows you to stretch five seconds into five hours. Thanks for your service, my friend!

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