Happy Pizza & the Meaning of Everything

Neon sign that reads: this is the sign you've been looking for.

Lifting the veil and coming back empty handed.

There used to be an infamous pizza joint in Phnom Penh called Happy Pizza. Who knows how the Gemini Husband knew of it, but he and my then thirteen year old daughter walked there one evening to pick up a pizza. Among the many pizzas on offer were two specialty items called the Happy Pizza and the Extra Happy Pizza. Happy, in this case, being a euphemism for marijuana.


They returned to our suite with his Happy Pizza, and he ate half of it…and waited.

My daughter and I went out to enjoy Cambodian food, and came back to find that he’d eaten the other half as well, and still…nothing. He was so disappointed. After all, it wasn’t even a good pizza! He suspected that being accompanied by my angelic looking thirteen year old daughter was what threw the whole plan. In a country rife with pedophiles and under age sex trafficking, the restaurant owners probably thought there was something untoward going on and refused to play. So the next evening he went without her and ordered an Extra Happy Pizza, just to be safe.

He brought it back and ate the whole thing. We girls just laughed at him: eating two bad pizzas in a city full of gorgeous Cambodian food! Ridiculous. Plus, we expected this pizza would be a dud as well, with maybe some “extra” oregano or something. Anyway, who wants to be stoned in Cambodia? It was probably something he wanted to do to be able to say he did it, to check off his list, to include in the travel book he never wrote.

We were wrong. About the dud, anyway. It was a Very Happy Pizza.

I don’t know much about marijuana or how it works. Does one build up a tolerance to it, like alcohol? Gemini Husband was not a pot smoker, so maybe that’s why he got so incredibly altered. I have no idea.

He went through stages. He talked for a while, non-stop. At first it was this blissful release of his larger persona level structures, the letting go of psychic and emotional armour. It was all about how he loved us and how grateful he was to have us, and how good life was, and so on. He was effusive. He shed tears of joy.

Then he fell quiet. He lay in bed, staring at the ceiling, his face intense and open in a kind of rapture. Then he started writing.

He rose from his stupor and exclaimed, “I see the meaning of the universe!”

Over the course of a day, he tried to explain it to me, drawing many diagrams in his notebook. He made no sense at all, but he was emphatic. He seemed to sense this sudden understanding was fleeting, and if he wasn’t able to write it down or at least have me witness it with comprehension, then he would lose it.

He ate nothing during this whole mind adventure, and so I just tried to get him to sip some water from time to time. He pulled me close to him at one point and held me in a deep and penetrating gaze. He held up his hand, palm facing me, and pointed to the bottom of his palm with the index finger of his other hand. He never broke eye contact, and he said, at the moment his finger pad touched his palm, “I understand everything.”

He did not leave his room for three days. I asked the maid service not to go in his room, and to just clean the rest of the suite. I slept with my daughter in her room, to give him space to “understand the meaning of everything”. My husband was a Mensa level genius, a stunningly brilliant man. I was very curious what he would ultimately get out of this experience, if he would somehow be able to bring back, or hold on to some piece of this cosmic and ultimate revelation.

When he finally came out of it on the third day, he was pretty hollowed out. After some coffee and a decent breakfast, we looked through his stack of writings and drawings he made on loose papers and in his journal. None of it made sense, not even remotely. He shook his head and laughed. So close. To remember that you understood the heart of all existence, but not remember what it was…

Years later, he died in Cambodia. In that very city. Whenever my daughter or I want to indicate without speaking that we understand something fully, we hold up our hand and touch the palm with our index finger. “It is known.”

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