Write Now: Boxed In

Boxed In | By Michael Campbell

If I tried to roll dough into a rectangle, I wouldn’t be able to do it.

I had my heart set on making pizza last night, but discovered I didn’t have any yeast. So I saved time by buying one of those dough-in-a-tube things. I cracked open the tube and unrolled the yellow dough. It was the shape of a cookie sheet.

I don’t know if that shape is supposed to be convenient for me or for them, but I didn’t want a rectangle. If God wanted pizza to be rectangular, he would have shaped Italy like Wyoming. I associate rectangular pizza with Roy’s Pizza in my old home town. Roy’s Pizza was made with boiled hamburger.

So I wadded the dough into a ball, mushed it, then stretched and pulled it out into a…rectangle? Try again.

I wadded it up again and whacked it with my rolling pin, then rolled it out again.

Rectangle.

No matter what I did, the dough would return to its original dimensions, as if it had a genetic memory, as if the shape were a Pillsbury trademark.

Any other time I’d be proud to be able to roll a sphere of dough into perfect corners. It ought to be impossible, but here I was, so good at it I couldn’t stop doing it. Now it was personal. I didn’t want no skanky Roy-ass rectangle pizza.

Laura touched my shoulder as gently as if it were a mousetrap and whispered, “Michael, relax. Deep breath. Count to ten. Cooking is fun.”

It is only the second time in my life that I have actually counted to ten. The other time was also in the kitchen.

I whacked, kneaded, wheedled, stretched and rolled to a draw. It was certainly not a circle, and one might see hints of a parallelogram, but the finished shape was mostly amoebic. Laura thought it looked like a slug. But definitely not a rectangle.

The overworked crust turned out as light and flaky as slap leather. It tasted rectangular.

This morning I lifted my head from my rectangular pillow, rose from my rectangular bed, shuffled out of my rectangular bedroom and saw my rectangular morning hair in my rectangular bathroom mirror. I had eaten a rectangle, and now I felt like The Fly.

As I write this I notice that, although my Macintosh computer screen is distinctly rectangular, the computer itself is shaped exactly like a ball of dough.

About Michael Campbell
Michael Campbell is a regular humor columnist for
Food & Spirits Magazine, where his “Dumpster” essays close every issue. This year he’s publishing Are You Going To Eat That?, a collection of humorous essays. For fifteen years he has written for nationally-distributed entertainment newsletters Coffee Break and Facts of Life, and his off-beat observations have appeared in various issues of Reader’s Digest. His weekly humor blog, MC, reaches thousands of readers. Campbell is also an avid singer/songwriter with three CDs of original music. He founded Mick’s Music & Bar, a nationally-known venue dedicated to hosting songwriters both famous and under-the-radar.

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