What would you think if you were in a cafeteria in a foreign country and saw a guy wearing a straight-billed Seattle Mariners baseball cap, green polyester pants and a Seattle SuperSonics starter jacket? Obsessed, right? Maybe a little weird? Chances are you would not be too far off because I met such a guy in an Italian cafeteria and he was both of these.
I was minding my own business, talking to a friend when he dropped his tray down beside me and asked if he could try my pasta. Before I could say anything he was digging in. He began to speak, in broken English, of his intense love for
Pearl Jam. I wondered if I should be afraid. Then he asked me if I like Seattle. I said yes. He asked me if I knew anyone from Seattle and I said yes. “Is she nice?” Yes again. Then he came out with the clincher: “She will be my wife.”
By this time he had finished my pasta and was poking at the salad. I was hungry. “I like you,” he said, “but she will be my wife.” I mentioned that this was too bad and if he was done with my lunch he could put the tray back on his way out the door.
Maybe because the ever-abundant cafeteria wine was all I had left of lunch, my thoughts turned to the benevolent university system which allowed the dining hall wine to flow like water. Then I thought of the Dark Ages in America’s
history, otherwise known as Prohibition. I thought of how the abolition of alcohol was like the abolition of, say, pasta.
It was as if the U.S. government just decided to plop down next to the American people and eat all their spaghetti. Distracted by talk of Seattle and morality and Pearl Jam, half of their ragu sauce was gone before they could even protest.
This was an unfortunate situation. No one really wanted to hear about Pearl Jam. What they wanted was the pasta that was disappearing at gazelle-like speed down the throats of various government officials. People grew desperate. All sorts of shady characters took over the pasta business and formed clandestine restaurants where, for a price, you could eat spaghetti until you cried tomato sauce.
At some point the government realized what a grave mistake had been made. The amount of pasta consumed did not significantly lessen. Behind locked doors and pulled shades people were consuming mass quantities of spaghetti, linguine, tortellini and ravioli, convinced each plate would be their last. Flying meatballs seriously injured innocent bystanders and a fine film of Parmesan cheese covered everything.
There’s nothing wrong with pasta. Thousands of people eat it every day. In moderation it’s good for you and a pleasurable experience. Maybe there are some pastaholics who know no boundaries and go through life in a starch-induced stupor with the suspicious smell of all five flavors of Prego spaghetti sauce on their breath. For them life is a constant battle to extend the swallowing reflex as long as possible to allow for maximum amounts of pasta to be consumed in minimum amounts of time. But these people are sick. If the government makes laws based around sick people, it becomes sick as well. It begins to grow out of touch with reality, wear too much Seattle gear and obsess about Pearl Jam. Of course no one wants to sit next to them. They lose contact with the citizens, or students as the case may be.
In a case like this I doubt there’s anything to be done. When the powers-that-be outlaw pasta (or any other wheat-derived product, be it solid or liquid) all the minions can do is sit back and hope that one day soon everyone will realize that pasta is for everyone, Pearl Jam is finished, and Seattle, while beautiful, is just another city in the great, liberated U. S. of A.