pizzas and underdogs

“Yet such is oft the course of deeds that move the wheels of the world: small hands do them because they must, while the eyes of the great are elsewhere.” J.R.r.Tolkein

My Very Excellent Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas

How many of you plead familiarity with that little anagram? I, personally, did not grow up with this pneumonic help to memorize the planets, but my kids did. Back in the day, it was just plain old-school–styrofoam balls and crude memorization. But now, the situation is much worse. Now, momma’s cupboard is bare. She is cosmically forever unable to compete the task of nourishing her children. Why? Because scientists removed the “P” from her equation. No Pluto, no pizza. Tough break, but science is a demanding master. Now that they cut off the queue at eight,though, they’ve got to deal with all the Uranus jokes.

Personally, I take offense at this. Not simply because I grew up with Pluto and it’s a part of my life, albeit a rather distant, unseen part. I mean, I grew up with typewriters and 45’s too, and I’m doing OK without either one of them. But Pluto is personal. Pluto is the little kid on the playground being picked on by the bullies. Can’t you just hear Jupiter and Saturn exchanging snide remarks at its demotion? And scientists must feel powerful at being able to deem heavenly bodies in or out of the cosmic clique. (I think this is exceptionally unfair payback, since the scientists probably were the nerdy kids on the playground.)

I always root for the little guy. Perhaps its part of being 5’2″, or the last of seven kids. Or a lifelong Cubs fan. Take your pick–I’m an underdog magnet.

I guess it shouldn’t have been surprising to me to discover, as I recently explained my one published novel and the two in progress, that I deal with the underdog a lot. The underground railroad, the Trail of Tears, and illegal immigrants. Three populations, all similar in their Pluto-like status. The theme runs through most of my nonfiction as well. Don’t count out the little guys, the losers, the “less thans.” A quote attributed to Cardinal Roger Mahony says, “Any society, any nation, is judged on the basis of how it treats its weakest members — the last, the least, the littlest.”

And I almost forgot to mention–February 18 celebrates the day Pluto was discovered. At least one state has declared a Pluto Day. (Of course, it’s New Mexico, which also celebrates UFO Day.) So today I’m seeing Pluto as it represents all of us. The funny thing is, I don’t think Pluto much cares. It continues to orbit, never losing much sleep over what minute earthly scientists declare. Happy Birthday, Pluto. At least some of us still care.

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