Chapter 37: Mr. Pizza Tells All at the Border of Crazy

Four weeks.  Four WEEKS!  Yes, Daily Feelers, it’s been FOUR FUCKING WEEKS…a whole month in quarantine! I don’t know about all of you, but this has taken its toll on me. I’ve been in mourning…all five steps.  Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally, this week I’ve reached acceptance. 

Truth be told, I would add epiphany to those stages as well.  

I’ve quickly come to the realization that all of this happened for a reason.  We were too flippant with the planet and our lives.  As you can plainly see, while this virus has taken its toll on humanity as we focus on surviving, nature and all the animals are thriving.

And that’s not all.  Humanity is thriving, just differently.  We are connecting with loved ones in new ways and many we never really made time for…we are relishing the luxuries of life and learning how to cope without them.  We are getting back to the beginning.  Cooking, talking, loving, sharing, dancing, connecting, and supporting each other.  We are applauding from rooftops, donating money to charity and adopting pets on death row to the point that shelters are nearly empty!

We are Working from Home, Cooking from Home, Teaching from Home, Working-Out From Home, overall, Loving from Home.

The keyword is home.  Many of us are seeing our homes in a new light.  Understanding and appreciating how lucky we are to even have one.  Loving the four walls around us and the respite they have become.

The noise of life has been lulled, and we are at a full stop. I’ve spoken to people I haven’t heard from in years, cooked gourmet recipes inspired by a new foodie group my friend started.  And adopted a beautiful baby dog named Bella from Tennessee, who was destined to be put to sleep before we stepped in and took her in.  All because I have time.  All we have is time. 

That’s the best of it.  Though the worst of it is undeniable and it hits very hard.  We are afraid to touch, to hug, to breathe the same air.  We walk around with masks and gloves on.  We watch our loved ones, acquaintances, and co-workers suffer and pass away, alone in hospitals or in their bedrooms.   We are at the mercy of an unknown, unpredictable virus and life as we know it has ceased to exist. 

But humans are adaptable.  And our eyes are opening in ways they never would pre-COVID-19.

One night, I had a two-hour tear-fest.  Finally hit bottom and I couldn’t stop crying.  After working 12-15 hours days, I was spent, drained, utterly exhausted.  Suddenly, a calm washed over me.  I looked over at the man sitting next to me and said, thank you.  Thank you for being here, thank you for loving me.  It struck me like a lightning bolt.  Why the fuck am I crying?  Here I am sitting next to the love of my life.  My lifelong wish granted. 

In thinking about what this would have been like without him, I feel extra lucky to have met him seven months ago.  I promise to stop crying and focus on what I have instead of what I don’t have; to stop mourning the things I want and recognize that I have everything I need.

We have spent 24-7, every waking hour together and I have the chance to get to know him in a way I NEVER would have before.   While I learn about him as we go for walks and bike rides, eat every meal together, and work in the same space, there is still so much I am discovering. 

The truth of the matter is that you REALLY get to know someone as you experience something as terrifying and eye-opening as a pandemic. The truth is every relationship is being put to the test and, in many ways, growing for the better. 

The good news is that Mr. Pizza and I are still going strong, stronger than ever, with an expanded and deeper appreciation to the universe (and angels) that brought us together. 

Since we can’t leave the house except to grocery shop, I thought it would be fun to interview him for The Daily Feels.  Cause I certainly had lots of questions for him…

Let me set the stage…we are sitting together in our PJ’s, drinking our tenth cup of coffee as I put the spotlight on Mr. Pizza.

Thank you for joining us today, Mr. Pizza. To start, we’d love to get to know you.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Thank you for having me. It’s truly an honor to be part of The Daily Feels!  Well, I’m Vice President of Construction for OCS Builders Group. I love what I do and have loved it for 35 years. I’m also the proud father of two great children, a 28-year old son and a 23-year old daughter who just got engaged.  I am a first-generation Italian and own my great grandparents’ house in Italy.  I absolutely love visiting my family that still lives there every 2-3 years. One of my proudest life achievements is being a veteran of the US Army, serving as a Calvary Scout for fourteen years.

My main hobbies are cooking, going to the gym, ballroom dancing, entertaining…I am a protector by nature, and as a friend, I am loyal and honest and will look to help anyone out no matter what they are dealing with. I consider myself a caring, family-oriented, unselfish person.

My best attribute is being a good listener, whether it’s to help people solve problems or give them advice (but only when they ask for it).

How would your kids describe you?

I wouldn’t say I was strict…but they might (says this as he laughs heartily).  I taught them all the values that I aspire to, such as honesty, caring for others, and being the best at anything you do.  I think they would also say I was their friend and would do anything for them.  Loving, fun to be around, and the consummate hockey dad.

As I traveled with my son throughout from six years old through college as he made it to Division 2 college hockey.

My daughter was and still is a Daddy’s girl for sure, and I am proud to say that I love my future son-in-law.  He treats her like a princess and his love for her radiates.  I couldn’t have asked for a better man to marry my daughter and hopeful my son will commit with the girl he is dating now.  No pressure, of course!

What would your brother say about you?

For two or three years, we had a rocky relationship, but now our relationship is stronger because of it.  My brother has my back, and I have his.  I can tell him anything as he is really one of my best friends besides being my brother.

So, Mr. Pizza, how has the quarantine been treating you?

Thank God I am healthy.  I am cautious and safe as I’ve continued to work since construction is essential business. I’ll go food shopping, buy lots of wine and other essentials for Cherry not to leave home (she’s been really afraid to go into stores).

This experience is totally alien as I am such a social person. There’s so much less contact with people, which is unnerving and unnatural to me.  As most of my business is relationship building with my subcontractors and clients. I also miss seeing my friends and family, but we stay in touch via House Party as often as possible.  On the positive front, we are cooking all the time and are eating gourmet meals every day and discovering new recipes all the time.  After all, food is love!

Has it affected your relationship with Cherry?

I feel that I’ve fallen more in love with her, if that was possible.  Her crazy workload affords me the chance to overhear conference calls and the way she conducts herself.  She inspires me. 

I genuinely enjoy taking care of her by making her breakfast, lunch, and dinner during the week.  I feel at my best when caring for someone.  We have not had an argument as we both understand how difficult our work is now compared to pre- quarantine.  And she has done a lot for me as well during this time.  Our relationship has evolved as this has demonstrated what our life would be like together. Since we were best friends first, I feel that we were equipped to deal with these types of trials and tribulations.  

When did you first fall in love with Cherry?

In June of 2019, we met at the infamous Pirate Party, which you all know about from her POV (Here is the blog that describes how we met at the Pirate Party 

I remember the first time I looked at her and couldn’t take my eyes off her. I am a believer in love at first sight and destiny.  And from that day, there was something about her that made me feel that she was my beautiful person. There was an attraction, that I cannot explain that kept telling me, “you have to get to know this woman as she is what you have been searching for.”

What are the qualities you love the most about her?

Honesty, integrity, caring, loving, inspiring, intelligent, independent, silly, crazy in her own way, which I love.  I love her brand of crazy.

She’s a great mom to MSP, and she is my best friend. 

As you know, her moniker on The Daily Feels is the Freak of Nurture, so tell us what are the freaky quirks that drive you crazy?

When she zones out sometimes. It’s unnerving.

It’s like, does she even hear what I’m saying?  She can get very insular. She gets single-minded and focused on something; it’s tough for me to get through to her. 

On a rare occasion, she gets angry, especially when dealing with her daughter’s father.  I’ve learned to just listen and let her get her anger out.  I don’t take it personally, cause we all need to vent and to have someone to allow us to do that without interruption. 

What are the quirks that you find most endearing?

She burps and farts regularly.  She tries to apologize, but I find it hysterical. It’s good and terrible at the same time. HAHA!

My favorite though are the Cherry’ isms…these are idioms that she gets wrong and creates her own version.  For example, Cherry says, “drag my leg” instead of “twist my arm.” One night she said, “pull milk from a stone” instead of “draw blood from a stone.”  My all-time favorite is when she told me that it was so cold my ” nipples could cut ice” instead of “cut glass.”

While in St. John we were considering renting a boat. She proceeded to tell me that while in Marco Island, she rented a Pantaloon with her uncle and the kids.  Instead of saying they rented a Pontoon.  Yeah, this is my favorite by far!

There are so many it’s hard to remember them all, so now I keep a list.

Coming into a relationship, a single-mom has its own baggage, particularly the kids. So, how has it been with her daughter MSP?

When we first got serious about our relationship, I told her that I knew that MSP is part of the package.  Over the past seven months, I couldn’t imagine my relationship with MSP being so close.  While I know she has a father, I still treat her like a daughter.  We laugh together, watch silly movies together, cook together.  We do math homework, and I am amazed by her personality, her smile, her intelligence, and her laugh. I’ve grown to love MSP and I could not be happier. 

It warms my heart to know that MSP has developed strong feelings for me, as well.  I am proud to be another influential parental figure for her. I thought it would be harder and take longer, but it proves that this was all destiny.

When do you think Cherry fell in love with you?

It wasn’t just one moment…
In thinking about it, once Cherry was able to open-up to me emotionally and release a lot of the pain she experienced in previous years.  She saw that I wouldn’t judge her, that’s when I think she truly opened her heart to me. That’s when she was able to accept my love. 

I remember one night we were up chatting on the couch, and she bared her soul to me.  I cried with her cause I could feel her pain.  I always told her that all I could ever want to do is to take all her pain away. 

After, the Freak’s last blog , many guys reached out to her to share how much you moved them to be better men.  What would you say to The Daily Feels community of guys about loving an independent, career-focused, single-mom?

Well, it’s not easy. HAHA!

I’ve had to adapt to her work schedule and career.  This was not something I was accustomed to while I was married.   And it’s taught me that patience, understanding and being best friends can help anyone adapt and be mindful of their partner’s career.  The biggest thing is to be present and listen, we may not like what we hear sometimes, but you should never take it personally. 

Make sure you understand what they do and their mindset around their career, especially what their work entails.  Try not to get intimidated if it seems like their work is more important.

I’ve found myself inspired when listening to Cherry on her conference calls. I look at how she presents even while I’m doing my own work. I’m blown away with how exceptional she is at her job.

This inspires me to be better at what I do.  It shouldn’t matter who makes more money. Many people have the mindset that the man should be the breadwinner, but that’s all different now.  The sooner people realize that it’s not about what someone makes but how you treat each other that matters. What’s important is the way a couple balances work with how you spend quality time together. Without that understanding and respect, no relationship could survive. I’m not intimidated by Cherry at all.  Her being good and committed to what she does, does not diminish my work and importance; it elevates it.

What’s your secret to living a happy life?

Finding humor in everything.  Being silly. Being open to doing the things that you enjoy but also being open to what makes your partner happy.  Grabbing the person you love and kissing them for no reason (maybe even give them a love tap on their behind) and telling them every day that you love them.  Every. Single. Day!

After 30 years with one person, getting divorced had to be quite an adjustment, would you mind sharing a little about your divorce experience?

After 30 years of marriage, I’ve learned that divorce can cause people to become manipulative and self-serving.

It was always present for a good portion of our marriage, but I buried it subconsciously so I could survive.  As Cherry likes to say, “it takes two people to get married, and two to get divorced.”  I was most frustrated by the fact that my ex-wife would not accept her responsibility for the demise of our marriage. She became very vindictive through the mediation process. 

Overall, it has been relatively amicable, except for those situations when the vindictiveness surfaces. I’ve always accepted responsibility for my part in the demise of our marriage, but my ex-wife does not.  We are well on our way to finalizing and I couldn’t be more excited to move forward with Cherry.

What is your best advice for those seeking love after divorce?

In order to move forward, make sure you are best friends with your partner before anything else.  It has to be a relationship where you can say anything or do anything without judgment.  Once that is established, everything else just falls into place.  I think the love I have for Cherry, which has grown exponentially because we were best friends first. Going back into a relationship after 30 years with someone, was hard…but after I saw Cherry, I knew in my gut that I needed to meet her and get to know her. 

I know myself, and my gut is never wrong.  And look, seven months later is proof.  While she took six years to figure it out, I took a few months, there is no right or wrong.  Just know who you are. 

After she said no four times to my request for a date, there was never a thought about giving up on her.  It didn’t even occur to me, something kept nagging at me to keep asking cause she was worth it.  The less you look for it and just let it happen naturally, you will find it when you least expect it.

What do you hope for in the future?

I would love to achieve my lifelong goal of opening a restaurant, as I adore cooking and making people feel good. I would like to continue to grow in my construction career. 

Most of all, I want to be happy.  And stay true to myself and who I’ve become after 55 years. I’ve become the man I always wanted to be and found the woman, I’ve always wanted.

I would also love to get engaged to Cherry…I want to marry her on a pirate ship.  LOL.  With all our friends and family as witnesses.  Maybe we can Livestream it for The Daily Feels fans!

If you and Cherry were a hashtag, what would it be?

#loveherbrandofcrazy #piratelovestory #bfffsfirst #foodislove #trueloveexists #shestheone

Any parting words…

I want to thank my late Uncle Cosimo and my Nonno Giovanni, who are my inspiration for becoming the man I am today.  They treated my Aunt and my Grandmother with this love, respect, and admiration. They are the ones that taught me, it isn’t man over woman, it about man being equal to a woman and to love above self. 

I miss them, but I’ll never forget these lessons. I loved watching them love and adore their wives, even in the smallest moments. They showered them with love and affection, and I plan to do the same for Cherry.

I hope to honor their legacy and memory, to remain the type of man I am, and to set that example for my children.  That was the greatest gift I received in my life, and it is the reason I know I can love Cherry as she deserves. 

As a parting gift, I’d love to share the song I wrote for Cherry, my Bella, for Valentine’s Day called, “This Love.”  I recommend that every guy who read this, co-writes a song for their wife…

Cherry Maggiore is the proud single mom of her 10-year-old super-sassy daughter (aka Miss Sassy Pants or MSP); in addition to being an award-winning senior marketing executive at NBCUniversal.

Beside her side hustle as the Freak of Nurture, she also started a home design company after being inspired by renovating and designing her 1880’s home in NJ.

This insanely curious and passionate “multi-potentialite” can be found dancing the Argentinan tango, swing and Hustle every Saturday, cooking her family an Italian Sunday dinner, singing and air drumming at concerts or searching for her next adventure

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