Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Case of The Stuffed Crust

I am going way back in my life for this story, but this is a great example of rigid thinking and the complete inability to understand where someone else is coming from.

For this story I believe the time was summer of 1993. The pizza chain, Little Caesars, had just released the Stuffed Crust pizza unto the world. After being exposed to that once I felt all other pizzas were inferior. I mean, who wouldn't want more cheese on what usually is the most boring part of the pizza?

This was fine and good, except on one Friday evening when I was at a friend's house in the neighborhood I lived in. When told what was for dinner I got elated. "YES! Little Caesars!" I said out loud.

In my mind there was no doubt what the order would be. Because I get the toppings of pepperoni and mushroom so does everyone else. And because I thought the stuffed crust was the best thing ever invented we surely would be getting that as well.

When asked what toppings I wanted I stated my usual, and said, "and we are getting stuffed crust" and then just to make sure I didn't sound too overpowering I added a meek, "right?"

"Aaron," the parent said, "the stuffed crust is $1.75 more." This made no sense to me. The stuffed crust was the best thing on Earth that it would be worth it at $5.00 more.

I made some argument as to why pepperoni and mushroom with a stuffed crust was the best and only pizza worth getting (because it was) to the parent. I was told that he would take it under advisement and he drove off to go order/pickup the pizza.

30 minutes or so passed and when he returned I was so excited. Surely the only pizza worth eating would be in the box. The smell of the pizza quickly engulfed the house and much like a tense moment on the game show "Deal or No Deal" the case, ahem, the box was opened and I was shocked.

Not only was the crust flat, there was no mushrooms or pepperoni. The ultimate insult had been handed out as it was simple a cheese pizza.

I tried with all my might not to say anything and we took the pizza into the other room. My internal fuming grew and grew and eventually I asked, "Where's the pepperoni?" and I got the answer, "Well, my kids don't like it."

This answer made no sense to me because, seeing how I liked it, everyone must like. Even today when I go into a pizza place and see the list of 20 or so toppings I think, "Wow, what a waste of space on the menu seeing how no one will ever order those."

Going back to 1993 now, I tried to eat it, and I tried to understand, but I had to make one more comment, "What about the crust?"

"What about the crust" was like pushing your luck one inch too far because the parent became irate, slammed his beer down, and stormed out of the room.

I was in shock. What did I do? I merely was pointing out the fact that the pizza was inferior in my mind. I wasn't trying to be annoying or to say that he messed up, well, maybe I was a little, but I was just ten years old and I wanted a stuffed crust. There was no malice in my words and I was trying (and failing) to figure out why someone would simply want a cheese pizza.

I wonder how many times this story has been duplicated. in other lives. I ask and I ask and I have no idea that what I am asking is making the other person mad. It took me until after my diagnosis to replay this "Case of the Stuffed Crust" before I began to see that, perhaps, I said all the wrong things.

At the time of the incident I think I was clueless as to why he got mad. I was scared though and I want to make that point clear. I was scared because he got mad and I didn't understand why. It made no sense and for a while I became afraid to speak because I was afraid of duplicating the feat of making someone mad without knowledge. And to tell you the truth, I still carry that fear, although not as much, today.


  1. Wow! I really love your blog. I have bookmarked this page so I can come back again to check it out. I love information sunglasses, I collect them. I just hope you keep up the good work.

  2. Erm... *confused* Was it that hard to get a small seperate pizza for you? This might be just me, but... For real?
    When we have guests eating at our place we always make sure they like what we'll be eating too or we eat something they choose or when possible (like with pizza) we get seperate ones for everyone or we cook a small dish aside for the guest. (like one time we forgot a friend of mine doesn't like fish and we were about to eat fish. She pointed it out and we made a little pasta for her to eat next to the fish)
    Maybe it's because we never order pizza, but buy it in the supermarket, that makes me not understand this. But there are small pizza's when ordering too right? Couldn't he order a cheese pizza for his kids and a small pizza that you liked for you?
    Again, this might be just me, but I actually still don't understand the issue here o,o

    1. Maybe it was the cost, some families just can't afford that. Sometimes in my house the crux of being polite and offering food even though you wish thier parents would call them home for thier own supper because it is straining an already tight budget.

  3. Aaron, thank you thank you thank you. This scene is played out at my house nearly every day. My son is 9yrs old and has asperger's ...I have been learning to understand my son better but my boyfriend it seems does not understand my son's way of thinking and almost refuses to try. But with various things, my son will be that same way and my boyfriend (and even me sometimes) will become frustrated. Thank you so much for writing this blog. it helps me to understand my son better.

  4. oh Issha.. i love ya, i wish it were like that sometimes it is..omg..I wish. my son...hates pasta remember that lol...don't knwo why but he does.. pizza no prob tho

  5. dont understand just accept..sometimes taht is how it is with my son

  6. This is a story I think a lot of individuals with autism will tell in their childhood and even adulthood experiences. I personally am guilty of at least a few instances like this myself. One example that has come to mind happened a few months before I was formally diagnosed. The situation was like this- some of my OT classmates and I were going to a community event for our geriatrics class. It was optional because it was extra credit for the class. I rode the bus to get to the place because my mom was constantly worries about downtown LA traffic and still is today. The event was OK. However, after the event was where things gone wrong. I knew a classmate who went to the event was living at the city next to mine. So, I didn't ask in a good way in terms of having her driving me home. That said, she still drove me and a couple of our friends home. However, after dropping our friends off, she began to tell me how rude I actually was as she was driving me home. Fortunately, it was a minor incident AND my reputation as a nice guy before hand saved me, as I apologized and she forgave me. So, we are still friends today.

    That said, I am sure there are other stories that didn't end as well as that. I think individuals with autism have to know the error of their ways in instances like this so that it minimizes the chances of repeating the same mistakes again.

  7. Still..the dad's reaction to a "fussy little kid" wayyyy over the top.