This is how Joe Rutigliano eats dinner

by Kyle Ferrara

Lifestyle Editor

The pickle and the tomato

Before the bruschetta burger, and before the french fries, the first thing Joe Rutigliano eats at dinner is the pickle.

Next, he swallows the slice of tomato whole. Barbaric.

He’s unpredictable, that lion-hearted, Griffin-spirited, retired baseline pacer. But it’s not that he’s unpredictable by nature, the problem, if it even is a problem, is that he’s misunderstood. There are not many among the ranks of Canisius students who know the real Joe.

“I think that because people say, ‘hey what’s up,’ to me in the hallway, they think that they know me,” he said over a mouthful of bruschetta-ground beef-goodness on a bun, “but they don’t know actually know who I am.”

If he is unpredictable, he’s only been so since he arrived at Canisius. At least, it’s a quality only his fellow Griffs have attributed to him. It was different in high school because he knew everybody in his graduating class, all 76 people, personally. There wasn’t any fooling these people with whom he had grown so close. It wasn’t a surprise for them to see him tap-dance, as he did during the Mr. Canisius Pageant this spring. Nor was it a surprise to see him rouse audiences to their feet as a lead role in a musical, as he did in Legally Blonde his junior year. Not even his monstrous eating habits came as a surprise to those with whom he grew up. 

The bruschetta burger

Having long since devoured the pickle and the tomato in less than one bite, Joe turns to the burger. What kind of man orders such a creation – an Italian-twist on the Germanic, meat-on-buu tradition? A family-oriented loudmouth whose name ends in a vowel, that’s who; the son of a 9-1-1 dispatcher and a nurse from which most of Joe’s personality stems from.

He devours the burger with the same passion with which he lives his life, the kind that can only be learned from being the first born child in a tight-knit, make-ends-meet Italian family. It’s the passion he applied while roaming the baseline, barking insults at opposing players and coaches in the name of something bigger than him, the passion he brought to the #GriffSports desk, and the passion that convinced him to run for president of the Undergraduate Student Association.

The ketchup and the lettuce

Joe spreads ketchup on his plate with a knife, and then he wipes the knife off with the leaf of lettuce on his plate. He shoves the lettuce down his throat. This reveals nothing about his personality, it’s just bizarre.

The french fries

Joe is winding down now. He picks up one fry at a time, and presses it down into the pool of ketchup on his plate. Then, he slowly sprinkles away the leftover salt on his fingertips. This is a pensive, introspective side of Joe, the side of him that those people who say ‘what’s up’ to him in the hall never see because they don’t sit down with him for the full meal. They see him make a pickle and a tomato disappear with one swift chop of the incisors, and they write him off as untamed, unpredictable. The wild man talks about his time at Canisius, specifically as manager of the women’s lacrosse team.

“It gave me the opportunity to be a part of something bigger than myself,” he said.

All he’s ever wanted is an outlet through which he can apply his passion, his dedication, his constant shouting for a greater cause. This desire is what attracted him to sports, to theater, to C-Block, and it is what will lead him to a successful future. After graduation, Joe hopes to pursue a career in coaching, possibly at Canisius, the school he loves. •

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