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  • Writer's pictureAshley Christine

Pizza and Diamonds

I sold my soul when I was a kid.

There was paperwork, witnesses, and the terms and conditions. The document was written in purple crayon, but still. It was legally binding in the eyes of God.

It was pizza day at school - a special treat on the first Friday of the month. The nuns would cross the street and return with stacks of pizza. They charged us one dollar, and every student bought a slice.

I didn’t have a dollar.

I couldn’t afford to buy pizza from our tax-exempt Catholic school. I was poor as shit. I packed sandwiches and ate the student's leftovers. My clothes were handmade by my mother, or donated. In the summer, the pipes in the kitchen would rust and our water came out brown. We walked to the fire department and returned with buckets of water.

I didn’t understand what made me different. Why couldn’t I have what the other students had? That never made any sense to me. The food was right there. Why couldn’t I just . . . take it? The answer is social constructs, economic control, and elitist superiority complexes, but I didn’t know that at the time. What I did know, was adaptation. They were rich. I wasn't.

I could work with that.

His name was Patrick, and I think his dad was a lawyer. He agreed to give me a dollar if I sold him my soul. That wasn’t a casual word for us. Soul. I knew what it meant. We talked a lot about ambiguous spirits in class. The nuns told us that our souls were the most valuable thing in the universe. To never give them away for any reason, ever. Our souls belonged to God and without them, we could never enter into heaven. It was a very important location. I didn't care.

Heaven was a long way off.

Pizza was here and now.

Patrick sat across the table from me in silence. The contract rested beneath his folded hands – a gesture that I’m sure he picked up from his father. Students crowded around us taking bets. At first, they cheered and laughed at what they thought was a ludicrous bargain, but then they hushed into silence when I picked up my crayon.

The most valuable thing that Patrick possessed was in his pocket. He had something that I needed. He had everything - a house, a yard, a dog. I wanted those things. I wanted everything.

I signed the paperwork, and Patrick handed me a dollar.

It was the best slice of pizza I’ve ever had.

The nuns were furious. I was put into detention for bargaining with an existential commodity. Bodily autonomy didn’t exist on any plane, apparently.

In the trade between pizza and soul, I was the winner. The money in Patrick's pocket wasn’t real. It was a concept, like a soul. It had value because humans decided that it did. It wasn’t food or water. I couldn’t build a house with the physical essence of a dollar. It didn’t do anything. In the tangible world of biological needs, money was as useless as a soul.

As far as I was concerned, I held something real. Patrick had nothing. And yet ironically, we both came out of it thinking that we were the ones on top. That’s the trick, isn’t it? Figuring out what matters to people. Seeing through them. Once you decipher someone's priorities, their intentions become as easy to read as a children’s book.

Why are diamonds valuable?

We’re told that they’re rare. They’re not. The Earth is riddled with them. Difficult to mine, and the social and economic structures of the local regions that mine them are a humanitarian disaster. But there are rarer and more utilitarian gems to dig up from Earth’s innards. So then, why do we drool for diamonds?

Diamonds have been valuable for over a millennia, but they truly ascended in the 19th century.

A well-funded family in South Africa struck gold, so to speak, and launched a brilliant marketing strategy that engulfed the world in a feeding frenzy. People couldn’t get enough of them. Diamonds were the go-to gem. Whatever historical precedent existed before, pales in comparison to the modern standardization of every romantic couple on Earth presenting each other with a rock.

Penguins do it too.

They find a pebble on the Arctic shore and present it to their mate in a ritual much like humans. We think we’re so different. That we're superior. But we’re like everything else on Earth.

Just trying to fuck.

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