Penkava: Living with chronic pizza insatiation

In order to truly understand and appreciate the condition of pizza insatiation, one must knead the dough of the inner psyche, allow it to rise to a level of consciousness, and mold it into a well-rounded perception of corporeality. Then you heat it at 425 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes until the crust becomes crispy and the cheese is bubbly.

Now that that’s clear, let me take you for a walk through the concept of satiation.

Have you ever heard the same word or phrase over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over until the words start to sound weird and lose their meaning? Well, this is called semantic satiation.

I actually tested this out and went online and listened to a video of someone saying the words, “semantic saturation” for 15 minutes. After a while, the words started to blend together, and I thought I was hearing, “Sir Mantick say she Asian.”

A few minutes later, I could not tell which word began the phrase, so “Sir Mantick says she Asian” became, “Say she Asian Sir Mantick,” which actually started to make some sense to me. All I had to do was find out the identity of Sir Mantick and discover who this mysterious Asian woman was.

By the end of the 15 minutes I had no clue what was being said. It was just a gibberish of sounds, kind of like reading James Joyce’s “Ulysses” while listening to a Taylor Swift song.

I read the comments about the video just to find out if I had a somewhat normal reaction to it. After one guy wrote, “My favorite part was when they said, ‘semantic satiation,’ ” I figured I was on my own with this one.

So, just what causes the meaning of repeated words to slide right out of our noggins? The answer lies deep within our brains.

Whenever we hear a word, there’s a word node in our brain that gets triggered. Every time the word is repeated, this node is activated. After a while, it gets really tired, like a husband trying to watch TV, but is continually interrupted by his wife asking him to close the refrigerator.

So now we have a fatigued brain node that is losing its motivation. While in that tuckered-out state, it stops making meaning out of the word and, for a while, until it recovers, that word makes no sense.

Now, I get all that. And that’s fine with words. But when satiation theory starts to infringe upon my stomach, then it’s getting personal.

Recently my wife was talking about when she worked at a bakery during high school. She said she could eat all the pastry she wanted, but after a while she grew tired of it and hardly partook.

I told her that would never happen to me. If there were a gastric Richter scale, I’d be an 11.0. If I worked in a bakery, I’d be a walking mixture of dough, powdered sugar, sprinkles and appetite.

But when it comes to pizza, there is no such thing as satiation. I tried saying “pizza” over and over again, and, you know what? It never lost its meaning. It was semantic insatiation, which scientists cannot explain and apparently wives cannot understand either.

Thus, I continue to live with the curse of chronic pizza insatiation. Just as the cure for insomnia is to get plenty of sleep, my remedy is to eat plenty of pizza.

I cannot help it. In neurological terms, the pizza node in my brain is just too freaky strong. Such is the burden I must bear. Sigh.

• Michael Penkava taught a bunch of kids and wrote a bunch of stuff. He also is showing symptoms of Sunrise Burger from The Tracks in Cary insatiation. He can be reached at

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