My mother-in-law and father-in-law are from Beijing, China. I am Japanese American but my wife is Chinese. My in-laws had always heard about American pizza and were eager to try it for the first time. Although Pizza Hut had restaurants in China, my in-laws had never eaten there because it was “too expensive.” So when they first came to America I took them out for a pizza with my two sons who were young children then. My sons and I ate our pizza but my in-laws wanted to save their pizza so they could really savor it. They politely drank the sodas I bought them but did not like them because they were too sweet.
So I brought their pizza slices home in a box which I put in the refrigerator for them. I noticed three days later they had removed the box and had placed their slices on open plates, drying them out and absorbing all the odors from the refrigerator. The cheese had become hard, the orange fat pooled on top and hard circle of white fat pooled on top of the pepperoni. The crust had started to curl.
So I decided to throw them away. My mother-in-law, who was cooking in the kitchen, became very annoyed and told me they would eat it later.
A few days later the pizza slices were gone. So I asked my six-year-old son Nathan if grandma and grandpa ate them. He said yes.
“How did they like them?”
He replied: “They did not understand why everyone said they liked American pizza. It tasted terrible. It was like eating cardboard.”
Mark Kodama is a trial attorney and former newspaper reporter who lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife and two sons. He is currently working on Las Vegas Tales, a work of philosophy, sugar-coated with meter and rhyme and told through stories. More than 150 of his short stories, poems and essays have been published in anthologies, including those published by Black Hare Press, Clarendon Publishing House, Eerie River Publishing, Escaped Ink Press and Devil’s Party Press. His stories and poems have appeared in Writers and Readers Magazine, the Academy of Hearts and Mind Magazine, Café Lit, Commuter Lit, Dastaan World Magazine, Dissident Voice, Jakob’s Horror Box, Indie’s Nest, Inner Circle Writers’ Group Magazine, Literary Yard, Magazine of History and Fiction, Mercurial Stories, Portland Metrozine, Potato Soup Journal, PPP Ezine, Spillwords, Tuck Magazine and World of Myths Magazine. His stories and poems appear in Ancients, Apocalypse, Blaze, Cadence, Unravel, Dragon Bone Soup, Enigma, Fox Hollow Stories, Glamour, Hate, Tall Tales and Short Stories, Gleam, Fireburst, Latin Anthology, Maelstrom, Pride, Tempest and What Sort of Fuckery Is This? “Land of the Pharaohs” won Story of the Month at World of Myths and “The Summer Camp” appears in Potato Soup Journal, Volume 1, Issue 1 (Best of).