My husband and close friends know about my latest obsession and it’s about time I take it public. Luckily its nothing I need to go to therapy or rehab for. Everyday on my way home from work, I check the corner of a busy intersection near our house to see if he’s there. HIM. The dancing one.
Its the dancing mascot of one of my favorite food chains, “Little Caesars”. This may seem on the surface to my husband and friends, ridiculous and immature. In fact its actually a nod to my past and an indulgence for my proverbial child like ways.
It took me a while to figure out just what it was about Caesar that made me smile and then today I figured it out.
Sure Caesar is a dancing mascot who gets into dance off competitions with the unimaginative mascot from the pizza place across the street. Sure Caesar mugs for the passersby on their way to where they’re going to try and get them to give into savory temptations. However, Caesar’s appeal runs a little deeper than that for me.
You see, when I was a kid, we had ONE Little Caesars. It was in the neighboring town, you had to drive 20 minutes to get there and it was locally owned and operated. If you wanted extra toppings you got them. If you weren’t asking for them, you got them anyway free of charge. The owners wanted their customers to feel appreciated so they would come back. If you were going out to get Little Caesars, you knew it was for a special occasion. In our house, it was for birthdays, good grades, or simply to make an otherwise unmemorable moment memorable. I remember long car rides holding the fabulously flat double pizza in a flimsy bag, smelling the wonderful aromas, only wanting to rip into it like a crazy 8 year old animal.
Upon seeing Caesar today I thought about the time my parents let me have a sleep over for my 9th birthday. Dad went to get the pizza, and when he came back he found 4 ravenous little girls chomping at the bit. After all was said and done, after our bellies were full, I glanced over at one of my best friend’s plate. She had a smug look on her face which I was too familiar with. It was the look of competition. It was a look as if to say, “Yeah, I ate more slices than you.” (I still don’t know why we felt this made one of us better than the other.) I then analyzed her pizza crusts and realized how small they were. Then, like someone making an accusation in the game of Clue I declared, “YOU DIDN’T EAT MORE PIECES! YOU TORE YOUR CRUSTS IN HALF TO MAKE IT LOOK LIKE YOU ATE MORE!” I cried foul and she claimed she did no such thing. (This is something she still continues to do in her adult life. If you remind her of something she has done or disprove something she’s done, she will undoubtedly deny it.) After we waddled out of the dining room we commenced in a game of indoor night time hide and go seek and then went to bed in our cartoon character sleeping bags restless and giddy.
Sadly after I started high school, the Little Caesars in the neighboring town closed. They no longer could afford to keep giving out extra toppings and keep their doors open. I forgot about Caesar for a while after that. Other pizza places came to town, but somehow they never filled the void. Then, almost a year ago my husband and I moved house and saw what I thought had become mere legend. It was too good to be true and 5 minutes from our new place. So what did we do as new home owners? You guessed it, we celebrated with a Little Caesars pizza and some much longed for Crazy Bread.
Its strange to think that a kid working for minimum wage, (dancing in a probably very used and smelly suit) can stir such a memory in this 30 something mind and create new memories. The sad thing is, the kid doesn’t even know it.
As a thank you to this kid, who comes out on their skateboard, whooping up the “should be” customers on the street in an Arsenio Hall fashion, I blast some tunes from my car. Today Caesar in his own way said, “You’re Welcome” by indulging me and breaking it down to “I’m a Believer” by another childhood favorite, The Monkees.