Universal Pot Luck

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Clemson University Dining facility does theme nights. One of them was Maximum Mexican Night. It goes without saying Mexican night in the dining hall consisted of tacos, enchiladas, burritos, Mexican rice and other Mexican type food. To compliment the theme, the staff wore sombreros and played Mariachi music. By all accounts, Mexican theme night was a raving success and everyone enjoyed themselves. Well, almost everyone! One student was appalled that Mexicans were seen as being associated with, of all things, Mexican food, Mexican music and Mexican culture. I presume she must be just as offended when she attends an Indian theme night where Tikka Masala and garlic naan are served or Italian theme night where pizza and pasta are on the menu. And the horror she must endure when she discovers that during a Japanese themed meal, rice and Sushi are listed on the menu for the whole world to see. Such inhumanity!

Needless to say, a University official promptly cancelled any further Maximum Mexican theme meals and quickly and sincerely apologized to the Mexican community for committing such an atrocity.

This story got me thinking. If this is the direction academia is taking our students, where does it end? Does calling Scotch Whiskey, “Scotch,” offend an entire nation of kilt wearing men? And are Irish drinkers more offended when whiskey is called Scotch or are they more offended when it’s referred to as Irish whiskey? Or even worse, do they care and am I offending someone by thinking anyone in Scotland or Ireland cares about their whiskey at all? I cringe to think about the uproar over “Tequila,” which is named after Agave Tequilana, the plant from which it is made. Just to be clear, I did not say that Tequila is a Mexican liquor.

I then began to ponder whether or not calling a group of people “Mexicans” restricts who they really are. The name quite simply and logically stems from the name of the country or region their ancestors came from. But shouldn’t we just refer to everyone from our neck of the woods as Americans? Wait! That still pigeonholes us to one continent. Perhaps the political correct thing to call all of us is Earthlings. That of course presumes we are alone in our galaxy. A bit presumptuous one might think. So I guess students of Mexican decent should not be called Mexicans or Americans or Earthlings. Perhaps they should be called Milky Wayans. Unless of course there is more life out there beyond our galaxy and going by Milky Wayans might just be a tad bit presumptuous and may portray a “flattened cultural view,” as the university official said in his apology.

Universalans. That’s what we should all be called from now on. We are all Universalans!

Wow. I’m glad I cleared that up, but now back to the original point. Just to be safe, polite, and respectful and most importantly, politically correct, we will no longer have Mexican restaurants or Indian restaurants or Greek restaurants or Italian restaurants. We will simply have Universal restaurants.

The down side is, of course, we won’t know what kind of food a restaurant specializes in because, and this is very important, we don’t want to stigmatize any group or nationality by presuming that, Mexicans for example, are primarily responsible for a certain, delicious, kind of food, music or culture. That would be hideously insulting, don’t you think?

So off to dinner you go. Apparently, Universal Pot Luck will be on every menu from now on. Bon appetite! Oooh. French. I wonder if languages are still allowed?

Don’t all of you Universalans out there feel more enlightened now?

B.M. Simpson

About B.M. Simpson

B.M. Simpson was born and raised in rural Maine. He joined the Air Force at the age of 18 and lived and moved across the U.S. and Europe. After leaving the military, he spent years living and working in the Caribbean. On the islands of Anguilla, St. Kitts and Grand Cayman, he discovered a passion for island life and formed friendships second to none. After more than 20 years of writing songs, poems and short stories, he wrote his first full-length novel, Island Dogs, A Caribbean Tale of Friendship.