Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Red Sauce Wrecking Ball

After suspecting mafia infiltration within his company, my cousin promptly fouled his pants and scuttled out of state. Now, I haven’t had the privilege of breaking bread (or antipasti) with La Cosa Nostra, but excepting the evidence of cement shoe fittings in the boss’ office, or panicky associates racing by your cubicle holding their sliced throats, I’m not sure how one arrives at such an extreme conclusion. It’s possible that Cuz became paranoid once biscotti trays and espresso replaced the usual coffee and donut tender at staff meetings. Or perhaps the cafeteria switched to an all sauce menu, with rumors of matronly plumpers tending to tanker-sized vats brimming with marinara. And I suppose the erection of a monstrous crucifix in the building lobby – with guards upholding a shoot to kill directive toward any non-genuflecting employee – may have been the proverbial icing on the cake (or cream in the sfogliatelle, for those who like their desserts flaky).

This celebrated tale of staggering cowardice is sometimes bantered about during holiday gatherings, especially by the hand-flailing Sicilian half of the visiting famiglia. Be it known, there was no valiant whistle-blowing on the part of my cousin, no Dateline interview while enshrouded in shadow, nor was a wire ever strapped to his testicles from which to record criminally slanted discussions as a courageous informant. Rather, he claims to have been slapped Godfather-style across the cheek, and told to keep his prying eyes under wraps, presumably before a demitasse spoon could be used to remove them. In other words, his hands were in the wrong cannoli dish, and the greedy bastard didn’t know when to stand down from the sugar high. With credit to my hardnosed grandmother, God rest her soul, a subtle smirk or eyebrow lift, usually directed toward me, always revealed her true feelings about the story. In her heart she knew that everyone’s favorite mafia-fearing cousin had flipped his wig and bought a one-way ticket off the reservation, huffing the fumes of the loony bus. She was probably right.

Within months my cousin retreated from his lifelong abode in a spineless display of emasculation; filling his suitcase with bare necessities to make room for the colossal load of fright, paranoia, and extra underwear stuffed between his cheap shirts. This was the twilight escape of a mental midget, a man on the lam from an imaginary enemy. And while your blog writer was not present to wave goodbye in puzzled disbelief, it’s easy to imagine the “good riddance” hissed through my grandmother’s clenched teeth when forced to watch her escaping grandson’s testosterone leak down his pant leg. Off he went, head down, shuffling his feet into the big wide world. In later years, our runaway experimented with new age crystals, homosexuality, and jazz, before seeking the providence of Jesus Christ. This lifted the family’s tally of born again bible scholars from a paltry one to a boastful two (see “Everyone Loves That Wacky Uncle” from Jan 28), thus scoring a new record among my friends while setting the scene for dueling scripture quotation at ensuing dinners. When the Lord is calling his flock back for supper, who knew He came knocking at gay jazz clubs?

As a helpful rule of thumb, the Bastard recommends prompt remittance of “protection payments” for the man aiming to keep ten digits on both hands. For those not operating a small business or tooling around in double-breasted suits, it’s quite easy to keep one’s neck away from the trappings of organized crime, and thus one’s head out of a vise. That said, a law-abiding Italian hiding from the mob is like a fat man running from an ice cream truck. At some point you’ll either collide or find each other at a mutually appreciated venue, whether that be the park or the Ravenite Social Club on Mulberry Street. In this case, enjoy your anisette cookie, stick your cheeks out for the double kiss, and move along. Do not, under any circumstances, ask detailed questions, regardless of whether your firm’s cafeteria was refitted with brick ovens or a 24 hour pasta bar. After all, you’re going to want to keep that pinky for the ring, not to mention your wife for an excuse to wear the beater. Capiche? Good.

Bada bing.


Chris said...

Dear Essential Fredo,

You're my brudder and I love you, but don't ever speak against da family to outsiders again. Ever.



Anonymous said...

We are appreciative of your need to tell a good tale, but you must certainly realize that you have been guilty of fabrications. We will talk later.

Vinnie The Quahog

blunt delivery said...

oh no, are you sicilian too? my ex was sicilian. the one from "paris can bite me" sigh. his grandparents were first cousins. now what am i going to do with you.

MVD said...

Half Sicilian. In fact, there's enough jewelry around my neck to choke a horse. Or not. Truth be told, I've never been a fan of "living the stereotype." I'll leave that to the guys on the Jersey Shore who sometimes forget that their names are closer to "Steinberg" than "Corleone."

And as for the accusations of "fabrication," well, you’ll just have to believe me on this one. You've got ten fingers. Let's keep it that way.

Jen said...

Why does the whack job train always end at the born again station? Seen it before I'm sure I'll see it again.

MVD said...

Good point Jen. Judging from the two known occurrences in my family, I suppose dining at the Lamb's High Feast is easier than (a) living in a trailer park to avoid nuclear fallout, or (b) diddling away the hours in homosexual jazz clubs.

...even if the jazz is quite good

Tina said...

So your cousin was so scared of the mafia he went gay and turned to Jesus? Italians are scary. Jesus is even scarier.

MVD said...

Hey Tina - The "went gay" and "turned to Jesus" were mutually exclusive events, occurring in that order.

It's tough to do both concurrently, as you may have guessed.

Suldog said...

Mmmmmmmmmmm. Red sauce with meat.

Oh, did you say something else? Sorry! I have no room in my head for anything else when I see meat gravy.

blunt delivery said...

oh, i was roommates with some peeps from the jersey shore when i stayed in london. what is wrong with them?

MVD said...

Hey BD - Let's just say the shore tends to attract a slightly different species, per below:

growingupartists said...

Dear MVD, I am back and still alive. Thank you for your advice, I followed it to the tee. I'd like to list you on my sidebar, and was wondering if you have a girl's name. Hoping, actually, as MVD sounds a bit like a beer ad.

Sincerely, Found and not a flounder afterall

MVD said...

Growing Up Artists - Have another gander at my profile pic in the top right corner of this page. I'd make one hell of an ugly woman, even if I decided upon the clean shaven look. I'm talking "paying people to have sex with me" ugly.

So no, I don't have a girl's name to share with the sidebar. If MVD is too alcoholic for your tastes, perhaps Essential Bastard would work nicely. It's more unisex.

Or just use Nancy. If I popped out female, that would've been my name.

growingupartists said...

It's going to be not-J.Lo. I don't believe you on the paying people part, walk the walk.