Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Pizza Licking

During my first year at USC, I lived in a dorm called, ‘Trojan Hall,” which was just a basic dormitory with no frills and a lot of red brick, noise and grit. Among us, there was an interesting and unique contingent of a few guys who had gotten scholarships to USC and who were from really economically desolate areas of what was at that time (before the LA riots) referred to as “South Central.”  These communities such sections as the eastern end of Inglewood, Imperial Gardens, Compton, and Lynwood; really hard parts of the city. 

This group was pretty funny, and I felt were “survivors” in an area that must have been nearly impossible to grow up in and maintain any kind of individual identity, let alone avoid the local environmental and social distractions enough to achieve the grades needed for a university scholarship.  They tended to stick together, study hard, and did well in advanced sciences, math and physics classes.  However, they could also turn on the “street” attitude whenever they chose.

There was this one student named, Kevin; a tall, wily, lanky African-American who was the kind of guy who would go on and on about all that he thought of sports figures, movies, politicians and entertainers.  He was captivating to listen to because of the speed of his thinking and the conviction of his opinions, and he also did a pretty authentic Michael Jackson dance imitation for us on occasion when he felt the urge.  Kevin would give people lip when he thought they were deserving, and being that I was a reserved person my Freshman year, I was a little intimidated by him and made an effort to steer clear of getting into debates or conflicts with him.

One night while a bunch of us were watching TV in the dormitory lounge, he came in with a large sized pepperoni pizza that he ordered for himself and sat down with everyone.  Immediately, the spicy Italian aroma wafted into our neglected Freshman noses until someone finally asked him for a piece.

He was clearly not focused on sharing the pizza that night and answered with a, "Nah, man, go get your own, nigga!"  And then of course, everyone started to pile on top of the request and started pressuring him on the issue, and it became a few minutes of convincing and defending our philosophical positions.  “Oh, come on, Kevin, give it up!  We’d give you some!”  "No, you don't do nothin' for me.  This is my eats tonight!  Y'all can watch if you want; ain't nothin' to me!

Just stances being put forth with no progress being made. 

As a blanketing and finalizing response, and with everyone ready to pounce at what we all thought might be two or three pieces given up to our hungry group, Kevin opened up the box and proceeded to lick the entire pizza by dotting his tongue down on each piece as a display of ownership and as a means to deter and deflate our desire.  It worked!  No one wanted a piece anymore, but rather, we all grumbled a little and then directed our attention back to the television program at hand.

I thought it was pretty clever move for him to do as an impromptu way of dealing with the standoff that he faced in that moment.  I guess Kevin wasn't much for charity.