Glendale: Giovanni, Arash and the tunnel

Glendale News Press
March 20, 2004

Giovanni, Arash and the tunnel


The ordeal is almost over. This is the last of three parts sparked by
a quote by Malcolm X: “The only thing I like integrated is my coffee.”
I took the analogy further in describing my high school’s racially
divided social scene: “Milk producers, coffee growers and sugar
planters rarely came together to produce a smooth cappuccino.” Readers
have been inquiring about the true identity of these categories; my
response has been consistent: “They are irrelevant.” It is the late
1970s; I live in Sacramento, and being an Armenian is still

Giovanni was one of my buddies on the soccer team. As far as I knew,
he was the only Italian at our school. He was a product of a broken
home and a jet-setter father. The most exciting things in his life
were his athletic involvements and his sweet girlfriend, Karen. And
she was the envy of everyone, including the football team’s
quarterback, Kenny. She was a victory for all of us on the unglamorous
soccer team.

Karen had a sweet way of filling the family void in Giovanni’s
life. She was one of the rare sweethearts who actually made and
delivered sandwiches for her boyfriend after each and every soccer
match. My Italian mate was smitten.

Giovanni was popular among “sugar planters” and enjoyed all the
benefits of having a solid peer group. One problem: Giovanni’s friends
did not approve of Karen. So one day, after a brutal two-hour soccer
practice, Giovanni broke down in tears. His intensity suggested that
his sobbing was not a product of his howling misses in front of the
empty net during scrimmage; he had broken up with Karen. His official
reason: “Hmmm ’cause I am stupid, man, just stupid.”

Translation: “Sugar planters” did not approve of her. My opinion:
“Dumb move.”

Dumb got even dumber. Within a week Giovanni had a new girl from the
more accepted scene, and within a month, she was pregnant. Beautiful
an expectant father at the green age of 17. My Dodo bird curiosity
immediately kicked in, and I posed the obvious question to his friend,
Joaquin: “I personally have not seen this contraption with my own
eyes, but isn’t there something called contraception in this country?”
Dodo bird received his answer in the form of “Hush that is against the
teachings of the church.”

The grand lesson is quite clear, but allow me to be redundant. Lesson
No. 1: Peer pressure can lead to losing your hot girlfriend,
especially if your homies are involuntarily single throughout high
school. Lesson No. 2: If you are going to be selective in following
the teachings of Christ, pick and choose wisely.

Arash was one of three Iranians at our school. Thanks to him and his
monthly “Animal House” toga parties at his bachelor pad, I enjoyed a
decent level of popularity. In spite of my superior looks, as well as
my lack of a unibrow and a thick black mustache, our classmates could
not tell us apart. They would often thank me for being invited to the
toga bashes.

Arash’s gatherings could not have come at a better time, considering
we were privileged to have experienced all the ill effects of the
Iranian hostage crisis. But no one dared to openly get on our wrong
side, as they feared being axed from the guest list. In exchange, we
were denied entry to gatherings on a couple of occasions, but no
worries, no resentments; we had a firm grip on our own social life.

In addition to being quite popular with the girls, Arash had a
beautiful girlfriend named Kelly. I could safely say Arash was one of
the biggest party animals at our school, and enjoyed all the freedoms
American society offered and tolerated. At the same time, he was
supportive of the Islamic revolution in Iran.

I posed a question to him once about this contradiction: “Would you
like a brutal spanking from a bearded official every time you were out
with Kelly?” His response: “That system is good for those people. I
don’t have to like it to support it.” He went as far as inviting me to
his pad to have his extremist roommate preach to me the virtues of a
fundamentalist revolution. From that day on, our friendship was on

I am almost certain Arash eventually made a U-turn on his views. Like
most Iranian students of that era, his anti-Shah, pro-democracy
tendencies were temporarily allied with pro-revolution sentiments. His
preaching roommate was a different story, however. He went on to
benefit from the American educational system, only to go back and help
coin the term “Great Satan” for America.

Lesson No. 1: What’s not good for you is probably not good for others,
either. Lesson No. 2: Hypocrisy runs rampant in the world. Lesson
No. 3: Revolutions can mess up good friendships.

High school was my landing ground in America; sink or swim were my
only choices. I left home at 14, traveled above gray waters, trekked
through a jet engine-noise tunnel surrounded by dark clouds, and
emerged in an entirely new universe. The tunnel was then sealed.

Everything before the tunnel is surreal, but intact. Everything after
the tunnel is real yet artificially detached from the past.

The bridge is still under construction.

PATRICK AZADIAN lives and works in Glendale. He is an identity and
branding consultant for the retail industry. Reach him at
[email protected]

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS