The Italian Name (Flash Fiction #38)

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“Can I also have a can of orange soda?” Armei says to the kid behind the counter, who looks like he’s hardly out of high school. Armei can’t even remember the days when she’s out of high school. That’s so long ago and she’s growing old.

“You mean the ‘San Pellegrino’.” The kid says with a thinly veiled amusement. He actually pronounces “Pellegrino” with a Latin flair and emphasis on certain syllables. He must have learned it from his Italian grandpa at home. What a show off. Armei thought. And he stares at Armei as if he’s waiting for her praise. She knows she should praise him, just to be social, but at the moment she doesn’t feel like it. Here she struggles to speak her accented English while he speaks his perfect American English and his perfect Italian without showing any effort–can life be more unfair?

This is in Panera Bread, the chain coffee shop with a big sitting area in Menlo Park Mall, New Jersey. Armei doesn’t want to come, but Lulu drags her over.

When they sit down and Armei relates her orange Pellegrino story, Lulu laughs and says, “we do need to learn to pronounce those Italian names. Let’s go to Olive Garden or Maggiano’s to bother those waiters with pronunciations.”

“Lulu, give me a break. English is enough of a headache for me. Now you want to learn Italian? Haven’t immigrants suffered enough?” Armei whines.

“Look, we can study the menu online so that we can ask educated questions when we arrive.” Lulu scrolls her phone to show the menu. “I wonder what Fritté is? Rigatoni looks like pasta. Or we can try parmigiana. What is Mozzarella? I heard of this word before somewhere.”

“Lulu, please don’t torture me. My head starts to spin right now.” Armei says.

“Armei, promise me when we go there this time, you will not bring your chopsticks, like what you did two years ago. It is so embarrassing.” Lulu pats on Armei’s hand to warn her.

“How can I eat noodles without chopsticks?” Armei asks.

“Goodness. That’s not noodle. That’s pasta.” Lulu says.

21 thoughts on “The Italian Name (Flash Fiction #38)

  1. That’s one thing I have noticed as difference between Asian and Western cultures. For the most part, most Asian cultures tend to be mono-cultural more often than not whereas countries like the US and UK tend to attract many different cultures to a point that they get assimilated as part of American or British existence.

    My siblings and I, growing up in the US, are a lot more comfortable in a Chinese restaurant than my parents and grandparents from India.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, some of the conservative Asians can be extremely conservative. And very opinionated against anything they are not familiar with. Living in the U.S. actually increased these people’s feeling of insecurity and they become even more conservative.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for commenting. Yes, learning from other cultures is not so easy but it can be done. I really want to show the fun of doing it, although I often fails to reach my aim. LOL.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Same here with me 😉🤍 I love your comments and how you considerately take the time to read everyone’s works and encourage them. That’s what every good artist does!

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  2. You are a great storyteller. I enjoyed this one just a little more because I have spent much of the last 12 years listening to conversations in Panera franchises from New York to Washington DC to Seattle and beyond.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for your praise. Hahaha. Panera Bread is the best place for conversations and bagels. Now that you mention it, I remember I love their black bean soup (a little too salty though) and I will need to get one of those. LOL.

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    1. Thank you for visiting and commenting. Yes, in New Jersey and New York, there are many Italians. I even regularly hear them dropping one word or two in Italian. LOL.

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