Please Pass Me the Raisin Bran

Almost a decade ago, when I was traveling in Asia, I met the father of a then year 1 boarder who asked me to keep an eye on his son, a new boy who was struggling with homesickness.

For the next 4 years, I had breakfast with this UCC student almost every Saturday morning, and I watched as he gradually made friends and found his way here at school.  Even as we got to know one another, though, our conversations remained somewhat stilted, in that they consisted primarily of my asking him questions about his classes, about the swim team, and about his family.

Over a bowl of Raisin Bran one Saturday morning a week or so before he was to graduate, I pointed out that while he had always been polite and occasionally even expansive in his responses, the young scholar had never initiated a conversation. As a matter of fact, he had never so much as asked me a single question. “So go ahead,” I encouraged him, “ask me anything about English, politics, the IB, the US, the world, or even the meaning of life. If I don’t know the answer, I’m more than willing to bluff!”

The soon to be Old Boy paused for a moment, and then — ever so slowly– said these 4 words, words that have stayed with me ever since: “Why no white rice?”

His words stung me. Clearly, this son of Confucius was speaking metaphorically. Was he raising a point about conformity, about the insidious push towards homogeneity? Was he offering a pointed criticism of the school’s desire to increase diversity? Was he indirectly questioning the IB learner profile? Or had he anticipated the Supreme Court’s overturning affirmative action programs and other race-based initiatives?

These and other thoughts raced through my mind, and I found myself completely perplexed. After a few agonizing moments, I ever so gently asked if he could elaborate. My companion gave me a look of complete disgust, before pointing to his plate and saying, “Why do we always have brown rice? I prefer white.”



6 thoughts on “Please Pass Me the Raisin Bran

  1. Hey Dr. P! Hope everything is going well. Loved your bit about the white rice and what it might mean in the grand scheme of the universe. My takeaway from that, if I’m allowed one, is that in this modern age we often times over complicate the most simple questions. I think the best answer, and usually the most fitting one, is the simplest one.

    In regards to the second part, had no idea who Herb Lotman was but that guy deserves every award out there – Chicken Mcnuggets are awesome! I had absolutely no idea that a Meat Hall of Fame existed but if there was ever a guy who deserves to be in it, it’s good old Herb!

  2. Okay, well first I’m not sure it was a metaphor. In the spirit of the universal male, I think he was mostly trying to convey a pragmatic desire for white rice.

    Second, how have you kept your boyish figure with such a strong taste for McNuggets?

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