SBS 301 Cultural Diversity/Prof. Koptiuch         Fall 2005        Personal Memory Ethnographies

Abilash Pulicken

Sentient Pizza and Secret Treasures:
Delicious learned, long, long, ago

    “OH. MY. GOD. I had no idea that those people could turn pizza into…into…into…THIS?!?” Dead silence followed Abilash’s proclamation of horror. Time seemed to freeze, if only for the briefest of moments, as Abilash’s friends stared at him with a mix of curiosity and shock plastered on their faces. Seemingly unfazed by their questioning looks, Abilash poked at his pizza, triumphantly declared (at length) that this pizza was indeed alive, squirmy and thus, inedible.

    Leo braced himself for what was coming. Abilash was easily excitable already, but with food thrown into the mix, he became even more so. He knew that once Abilash got going about something, he wasn’t going to stop until one of them was dead of old age. He needed to cut Abilash off, and he needed to cut Abilash off NOW. His sanity demanded it. Suddenly, an idea hit him. It seemed that the universe, desperate to escape the chaos that Abilash’s ramblings tended to encourage was urging him to save it. Leo smirked. He was going to be a hero. He was going to get the last word in this time.

    Abilash paused to take a breath. Rambling about food was really taking a toll on him. Especially since he was starving. He had no choice, however. He’d used up his lunch money to buy this infernal pizza, and as a result, had nothing edible available for lunch. It was over. He was starving, and food was scarce. He knew it. He was going to die of starvation…in a cafeteria. With his luck, the sentient pizza slice of doom would probably eat what was left of his body. The irony was, well, delicious. It was then that Abilash decided that he wasn’t going to go down without a fight. The universe be damned, he was going to go out on top, just like any warrior of justice would. He closed his eyes for a second, paused, and then announced to the table that he was going to die of starvation in a matter of minutes. Before he could finish his self-spoken eulogy however, Leo cut him off.

    “Aww. Poor little rich boy. I don’t see what you’re crying about. Your dad is filthy rich. Why don’t you just have your rich dad fly you some pizza in from Italy? Better yet, why not have your rich dad just buy the entire country of Italy FOR you. Then, you can have all the pizza you want, you rich brat.” The look on Abilash’s face told Leo that his little snipe had worked better than he’d ever hoped. He’d done the impossible: He’d shut Abilash up just as one of those terrifying (but very amusing) rants was about to begin.

    The smirk on Leo’s face told Abilash that Leo had just been kidding, but Abilash still felt the he needed to retort, lest he look like a lesser man in front the rest of the table, which had by now transformed into a captive audience. Nothing witty immediately came to his mind however, so he was forced to defend himself with statements that were devoid of any snark whatsoever. Insisting that it was his parents that were rich, Abilash claimed that there really was no difference between the two of them.

    Seeing that he had Abilash on the defensive, Leo quickly pressed the attack, comparing Abilash’s “four bathroom mansion” to his “cardboard box of a house”. Tearing a page out of Abilash’s book, Leo began a exaggerated rant of his own, illustrating just how privileged Abilash was compared to him. Abilash was a genuinely good guy, and most of what he was saying wasn’t entirely true, but the rest of the people at the table seemed to believe him. He was unstoppable. His audience hung on his every word. It was over for Abilash. Leo had won. Abilash wasn’t going to back down, but for once, victory was his.    He’d beaten Abilash at his own game. This was going to be a moment neither of them would forget anytime soon.

    To a casual observer this little exchange might not have been much more than a playful verbal scuffle between two best friends. A critical observer however, would see much more. Despite the fact that both Leo and Abilash were immigrants to the United States, they had very different views of the world. Leo, on one had, hailed from Brazil, a country he loved fiercely. His closest friends and family still lived there, and thus, the country always held a special place in his heart, regardless of where he was at the time. Abilash, on the other hand, had emigrated from Saudi Arabia five years prior. He’d found life in the country both oppressive and stifling, and as a result, embraced the United States with all of his heart. The parents of both these boys brought their families to the North American continent to provide their children with opportunities not found anywhere else. Both Leo and Abilash were determined to seize these opportunities as soon as they revealed themselves, as such opportunities had not been present in their previous homes.
Leo however, was going to see fewer of these opportunities, as a direct result of his station in society. He was not poor by any means, but he wasn’t incredibly wealthy either. Abilash’s family on the other hand, had enough money to live comfortably for a long time. It was for this reason that Leo could see things that Abilash was unable to. He had to fight for every opportunity and open door that Abilash took for granted. In Abilash eyes, having these things (like a fully paid college education, for example) was a given, and was fully expected. Leo on the other hand could only hope for these things in his wildest dreams.

    In his enthusiasm to accept his best friend, Abilash made the critical mistake of ignoring the very real differences between the two of them. This little episode was Leo’s way of indirectly (and perhaps subconsciously) forcing Abilash to deal with an issue that he may not have given much thought to otherwise. Over the years, Abilash has slowly come to realize and accept the things that Leo was trying to teach him. That being said however, he still believes that these differences, while present, are trivial in the face of friendship. He has learned enough to know that these differences are not to be ignored, as ignoring them would, in effect, be the same as ignoring a major facet of his friend’s personality.

    All in all, this was a fun lesson in social class for the two of them. Despite the fact that they have their differences, learning to accept these differences has only brought the two of them closer together since.

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