by Colin Atrophy Hagendorf
I was drawn into this book as the author and myself have a few things in common. We love pizza, we are also both Jewish, use Yiddish words such as mensch, oi yoy yoy, kvetching and shmuck. I grew up in NJ, (close enough to NYC). I too when old enough learned how to fold pizza and with three fingers navigate these unruly slabs of dough, sauce, and cheese into my mouth with one hand.
This is where the line is drawn when it comes to similarities. He was twenty-seven years old when he first started shlepping around Manhatten visiting over 300 pizza parlors to eat more than four hundred slices and record it all on his blog.
I was sixty-six years old when I read his book five years ago.
What wasn’t lost on me was the story within the story. Colin exposing himself and being honest about his own shortcomings, more specifically alcoholism. He wove this part of his life throughout the book and made mention, no less than seventy times, of being drunk, hangovers, puking every morning when waking up, and a myriad of different ways to exclaim that alcohol was not having a very good effect on his life. Eventually, with the utmost resistance and reluctance, he finally acknowledged, “I am an alcoholic.”
I started to sit upright when I realized that Colin was letting us know that life while seemingly fun and exciting doing something he loved, eating pizza and taking us on a tour of the Manhatten Pizza underground, was at the same time dealing with a problem that had to be faced, rectified. Honestly looking himself in a mirror with the knowledge that if he doesn’t do something about it he will lose his then-girlfriend.
Not as an afterthought, it seemed, but an extension of being a drunk on a regular basis came with it the ugly habit of lying. Lying, in my opinion, could have been far more destructive to who he was or any of us for that matter as a person.
He could have gotten away with not telling this part of his story. I’m guessing for whatever reason he needed to and I respect him for exposing himself, his honesty which says volumes about his integrity and character. I could relate as a third person because I had, at that same time as Colin was fulfilling his Pizza adventure, my son about the same age was experiencing his struggles with alcohol addiction and lying to cover it up.
As much as I love pizza and enjoyed the ride around the NYC pizza scene, the story within the story is what impressed me most.
Kudos Colin. All the best as you continue to navigate your way through life.