So My Professor Asked Me to Do an Ethnography

T. Anthony’s Pizzeria is a small Italian restaurant located on commonwealth avenue. Its unassuming exterior belies the intricate decor on the inside; the walls are crammed with framed pictures of sports teams from BU hockey to the NFL. Below the lazily revolving ceiling fan are booths densely packed together to cater patrons of all sorts. People gather beneath a long chalkboard menu mounted above the kitchen window, murmuring about, I think, which would a better choice for a laid-back Friday afternoon.

Two policemen walk into the restaurant – it’s just a statement, not a prelude to a banal joke. They truly are the breakers of stereotype. I applaud them for their defiance of the entrenched association between cops and donuts – the enforcers of the law are served with sandwiches and chips, while a Dunkin’ Donuts is just next door. They are sitting at a strategic booth in the corner, one that grants them an unobstructed view of the entire diner. I guess it’s an occupational habit they have picked up – always be on the lookout even while having lunch in the middle of the day in a small Italian establishment. Hold on a second… doesn’t the Mafia always meet in small, unassuming Italian diners? Or have I watched too many cheesy movies? Perhaps the policemen are not paranoid after all.

Sitting across from the two policemen is a college jock reading newspaper, with one hand holding a chicken parm sandwich. He takes a huge gulp and rapidly turns pages, maybe he is trying to find the sports section? He raises the sandwich for another bite and this time the sauce falls out and crash-lands right on his newspaper. Two friends of his soon arrive and are somewhat astonished at the sight of the newspaper, “Really? The Wall Street Journal?” They’re horribly prejudiced because if policemen can have sandwiches instead of donuts, who is to say a jock can’t… But he replies so quickly that my thoughts aren’t even finished, “Phone died, just trying to look smart.” Ouch. So close, yet so far.

Remember how Forrest Gump said life is like a box of chocolates? T. Anthony’s truly is a miniature of that box – full of chocolates trying to break stereotypes but somehow fall short.

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