The Sushi Closet

This amount of sushi costs more than my car. 

On a scale of ‘Not flaky’ to ‘The flakiest’, people in LA tend to fall more on the croissant and pie crust side. I’m not saying that everyone in LA is a flake – hell, I’m not even saying that the flakes are bad people – but only in LA have I spent an entire hour alone in a bar waiting for someone to show up, or been stuck in traffic on my way to meet someone when they text me and cancel our plans a full 15 minutes before we were supposed to get together. That’s just how it is – a lot of people here are like the crust on Hot Pockets. They’re like Kellogg’s cereal. They were made with a lot of grated butter mixed with flour. Do you get it? Do you get the jokes?  

There is one thing I’ve found, though, that no young LA professional will flake out on. It’s an expensive, sometimes pungent substance, oftentimes green in color, and it’s thoroughly ingrained in the culture of Southern California. Yes, that’s right – I’m talking about sushi.*

*This double entendre would probably work better if sushi wasn’t in the title of the update.

People in LA will be habitually late and crap out on plans at the drop of a hat unless your plans involve the consumption of sushi, in which case you can count on your companion being well ahead of schedule and dressed to the nines, eagerly rubbing his or her chopsticks together in anticipation and muttering the names of the various rolls on the menu with the manic intensity of a bit player on The Wire.

At work, for example, we have this thing called Sushi Friday, where everybody goes out and gets sushi on Friday. But this isn’t just some halfassed tradition – it’s basically law. Friday is the day that we eat sushi, and it’s so heavily ingrained in company culture that people actually strategize and discuss their hour lunch break up to three days in advance.

One time, everybody was jonesing so hard for sushi that we did Sushi Friday on a Wednesday. And then we did it again on Friday. I’m pretty sure this is exactly what LA ad agencies were like in the 1980s, only it was cocaine.

Honestly, though, I really don’t get what all the fuss is about.

To be clear, this isn’t like Dubstep, where I both don’t get what all the fuss is about and also view it as a cancer upon our society that needs to be wiped out in order for humanity to progress. I enjoy sushi – I think it’s tasty. One of my friends is having a birthday party at a sushi place tomorrow and I’m really excited to go eat some sushi and have a good time. I’ve got no problem whatsoever with sushi or the consumption thereof.

That said, maybe I’m missing something, because I really can’t understand why people are so fanatical about it. I mean, people are militant about sushi. I know minimum wage earners who won’t bat an eye at dropping $20 on a sushi lunch. People here talk about sushi the way Paul Ryan talks about Ayn Rand, or the way I talk about boobs: With immeasurable, almost creepy enthusiasm.

I always feel sort of behind the curve when I go get sushi with the office guys, because sushi consumption has about as complex a preparation ritual as heroin injection* – right away everybody is pouring soy sauce into their personalized dish and mixing in wasabi and rubbing themselves down with hot towels like on an airplane, and I’m still trying to figure out how to use chopsticks.**

*I only know that from the scene in Pulp Fiction, Mom.
**Look, with all due respect to Japan and sushi, forks are far better eating tools than chopsticks. You don’t see me using a VCR just because I want to watch Swingers. Whatever. Not the point.

I don’t know – is there something I’m missing? Quality of sushi certainly isn’t an issue; we routinely partake in some of the finest sushi that Burbank has to offer, and again, it’s certainly tasty, but it’s not something that I fantasize about in my spare time.

On the other hand, I don’t get why people aren’t as obsessed with Indian food as I am – particularly the ubiquitous $8 all you can eat Indian lunch buffet, which is 100% guaranteed to have you in a food coma before you’re even back to the office. All the elements of a true American culinary phenomenon are there: A low price (way lower than sushi!), an unlimited amount of food (way more unlimited than sushi!), a buffet (I’ve never heard of a sushi buffet, which is probably a good thing)… I guess the only stumbling block is that there’s no beef, but lamb is a kickass replacement – it’s The Other Red Meat. 

Every time I try to pitch Masala Mondays, or Tandoori Thursdays, or The Five Day Saag Paneer-aganza, though, it gets shot down – India, for its 1.2 billion people and its colorful, goofy film industry, just can’t seem to get a leg up on Japan.

Maybe it’s just differing tastes – or maybe there’s something wrong with me. Much like sushi, I like The Beatles, but I’m not fanatical about them the way everyone else is,* nor is everyone fanatical about Pink Floyd the way I am. I like Star Wars, but not as much as Battlestar Galactica; the rest of the world feels differently. And as long as we’re making confessions, I wasn’t crazy about Inception, either.

*That said, I totally get the fanaticism surrounding The Beatles.

I go to great lengths to not be perceived as a hipster, so having these feelings inside of me is kind of difficult – I don’t want to suddenly look like I’m too cool for the current hip food in America. So I remain in the sushi closet – save for the part where I just posted about it in great detail on the Internet – and cross my fingers that either I’ll start loving sushi, my coworkers will start loving Indian food, or sushi places will at least start putting forks out on the table so I can quit fiddling around with those fucking chopsticks.

Truman Capps totally loves Forrest Gump, though.