DelBloggolo

Thursday, June 29, 2006

UNCLE FELIX OR “ZIO FELICE”

He stood at 4’ 4” tall, weighted about 120 pounds, and sported a long handle bar moustache and went by the name of Zio Felice or in English, Uncle Felix.

During the depression and during the war Zio Felice worked as a gang foreman on a construction crew, building large multi-storied complexes out of brick and concrete.
My Uncle went to work under him after he finished school, and was told to haul wheel barrels of concrete up a plank, and dump it, go down and do it again and again. My uncle’s hands were bleeding and raw from the hard work. This was before lunch. He goes to Zio Felice and says, “Look at my hands!” Zio Felice looks at the and says, “Go behind the building, and urinate on them.” This hardened the hands and after a while he never had problems with bleeding again!

Uncle Felix fathered 16 children; each and every one of them feared the little Caesar, as he commanded respect that went beyond the call of duty for any child.

There is a story that went around the family that when he came to America, in his brown suit and black shoes, while on the boat as it sailed; that there was no macaroni in America. This made him highly agitated, and he wanted to go back to Italy.

When he landed in America, and fathered all those children he insisted that they have macaroni everyday! All his children had to be at the dinner table waiting for him, standing at their plates until he came home and sat down. Once Zio Felice sat down, everyone else could.

One of his sons wanted to become a priest and Zio Felice would not hear of it, and forbade him from doing so. His son then joined the U.S. Army and was killed in action at Anzio Beach, very near the birthplace of Zio Felice!

Zio Felice was also the older brother of my Grandmother Francesca. Zio Felice was the father figure to my Dad, since his real Dad had died during the Great World War while in the U.S. Army, where he contacted the Spanish Influenza and died in a hospital during the cold of winter, where he tried to jump out a window to go home to visit his son.

Many years later on a Saturday morning when I was about 12 years old, my Dad said to me: “I have to take your Mother somewhere. I expect Zio Felice to come with Grandma and your Aunt to see our house for the first time. If he comes while I’m away, show him around.” Sure enough, the entourage arrives with a flourish, as the little giant steps from the car and I greet him. I immediately escort him and those that follow to the house, through all the rooms, and finally take him back out side to the front of the house at his request. “Tella me, awhata you doer over here?” “What do you mean?” say I. He points to a spot off center of the lawn, about halfway toward the street, and says to me: Wella over here a you puta the bricks ina a nicea big circle an in the middle a here you puta the flaga pole.” “ Ona the bottom ofa the flaga pole you puta the flowersa, a nicer colors. “THENA” pointing his finger for emphasis, “You puta a picture ofa Garibaldi.”

He died in the early 1970’s, at the tender age of 93.

THAT’S NOT A CONCEALED WEAPON OFFICER, THAT’S HIS HEAD UNDER HIS HAT!

Everyone in this world has a best friend, even me. The difference with my best friend is he is like the brother I never had, and thank God for my Mother's sake!

My best friend and I met in college in our freshman year at NYIT then in Syosset over 40 years ago. It happened in the design class of Mr. Ahn our Korean Instructor.

His name is Phil, he is crazy, a nut, a lunatic, a tease, a pain in the ass, and easy to love, a perfect friend for me. We spent our college days looking for girls and eating pistachio nuts. They would litter the parking lot, and stain our fingers from the red dye.

If Phil has a passion, aside from driving his wife Linda and kids nuts, it is Italian bread. When you first meet Phil he will disarm you, you will meet his lovely wife, greet his beautiful children, and you will walk away thinking nothing of it. DON’T BE FOOLED. BEWARE OF THE DEVIL HIMSELF! I speak from the horrific experience of being his friend, the job given to me by God himself who said to me “Watch him, I goofed. I’ll give you points when you apply to Heaven, I need an earthly presence to occupy his mind until I call him home.”

This prayer I pray every day. When I awake in the morning, before and after each meal and when I retire for the evening:
“Oh Lord, why do you burden me so. Was it something I did? Must I suffer here on Your earth to protect mankind from this human plague?”

Once we were driving in the Bronx, and Phil decided to take a short cut and went down a one-way street the wrong way. Sure as Phil is a scooch, the police spot it and pull him over. It was bad enough that he went the wrong way, but he did it going 70 mph! The cop comes over to the car and says:

"Do you realize that you went the wrong way down that one-way street and that it was a 35 mph zone and you did 70 mph?"

Phil: "Yes officer I do, but being how I wasn’t going back down that street, I thought I’d cover both ways.”

Phil may never make a million dollars, or climb a big mountain, or find a cure for any disease, but he does do one thing very well, he makes me glad that he is my friend, and I will do anything for him, and what is his I will consider important in my life. We shared some really hilarious times together, and some really sad times together, but the key word is “together.” Like my wife and family, I could not conceive of life without Phil.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

FAMILY REUNIONS-OR WHEN IRISH EYES ARE SMILING

Well the Little Woman’s family had their reunion this weekend, an endless 3 days of chitchat and eating. Nothing says Irish family reunion like a good slice of pizza, with a house full of Irishman! Of course in the process you begin to realize how old those about you are getting. Not that I’m getting older, but the others are showing signs of getting older. They are not a sharp as they used to be, somewhat out of focus, or blurry looking. I had no idea people could do that! They are becoming harder to hear, as they start to reduce down to a whisper, lowing their voices in each utterance. (They must get out of breath quickly.) Physical movement has become a problem: as I had to slow down so as not go too fast in my movements, in case they might get dizzy. Memory has also become an issue! It seems they insist on bringing up names and places best forgotten, as I do that best. I forgot everything there was to remember, and they don’t realize they are supposed to, too.

The Little Woman’s family says everything in a singsong voice. It sounds more like an Irish-American opera that has gone dangerously out of control and has no fat lady to end it. Her sister and both brother’s almost sing each sentence, but avoid the aria. I, along with the spouses of the Irish tenors just sit and listen; we do applaud on occasion just to let them know we are listening. This singsong varies greatly from the Italian way, which is to yell our sentences and to use sign language. Not that Italians are deaf or angry, but to make sure everyone is listening, and that you can join the conversation once we insult you into it.

One of the pleasures of family reunions is to see someone you haven’t seen in a while and they enthusiastically enter the place, all smiles and filled with stories, mostly funny. This occurred on two occasions, once when my Brother-in-law Dennis came in, and wouldn’t you know it, when his son Mathew came in a day later. Now Dennis is beginning to remind me of his Uncle Bill. Uncle Bill loved to tell stories, and you were compelled to listen because they were interesting, and sometimes very funny. Mathew is a very handsome and engaging young man. He’s the kind of person that is just sincere in his whole outlook, conversation and body language. When you see Mathew, you’ve had a good day.

At one point in the reunion, a lovely vision appeared at my door, and it was my niece Meghan, the very soul of what is beautiful. She had tagging along a fellow by the name of Harry. Meghan was always beautiful, as a child, her eyes would command your attention, as she jumped about, having a rollicking good time with all her cousins. She would tumble, leap, and screech with delight as she turned a perfect boring day into a day of gratitude that I was alive too. Now she is a beautiful young woman and has a very sophisticated air about her. Meghan is now laid back, serene and calm. Harry is a very nice fellow, that if I had a daughter that was dating, Harry is what I’d want my daughter to date.

Of course the family reunion could not be complete without my sister-in-law Maureen. Now Maureen knows everybody. The Connecticut phone company sends her the phone book to see if they left anyone out before they publish it! All Maureen’s conversations are about other people, never herself, just facts and stories, never gossiping, just bringing you the latest good news. Her son Steven like his old man, smart, good looking and likes to implant little known facts about anything that strikes their fancy, while my sister-law Angela, Dennis’ wife will give you the supporting background to any conversation as she like a good math teacher does, always has a solution. Angela is a typical mother, always worrying about her kids. Whenever I hear someone from north of Albany speak, I automatically think of Angela.

It was fun to see them all, and I’m sure I will see them again, or at least some of them, as now we go into phase II of family reunions as the cousins meet in Plainedge in a few weeks.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

BAD NEWS, I CAN FIND YOU NOW!

Oh, the marvels of modern technology, and the gifts of the NASA programs and satellites. For Father’s Day from my son Anthony and the Little Woman I got a GPS. Those of you who do not know what a GPS is, it stands for Global Positioning System. You mount it in your car and it takes over the driving for you, finding anyplace in the world you need to go. No, it doesn’t steer for you or even accelerate and brake, but it does give you the estimated time of arrival, count down in miles, name of next street, arrows pointing on maps, and yes, it even talks to you!

I seems that with a cell phone, remote key locks that locate your car in the crowded parking lots, and now the GPS, there is very little to do except think about buying a CB radio.

The GPS opens up all kinds of possibilities for me. First of all, I can now get lost with confidence. My sense of direction left me in the womb. I always relied on the Little Woman to navigate for me, to get me anywhere I needed to go, including daily instructions on how to get to work. Now the Little Woman can follow the map for me and comment, “gee that’s neat” for me.

Second, the Little Woman from her years of shopping when she didn’t work while the children grew up, could find the shortest and most efficient way to go from one point too another. If we would need 2 cars for some reason, she would leave 10 minutes later than I did, and would always arrive 10 minutes before I did. I would have the speeding ticket, from my pathetic attempts to beat her to our common destinations, and the Little Woman would act as if it wasn’t a big deal. God, I hate that. But the GPS will change all that for me, and I tested my theory this very morning on the way to work. It takes a little getting used to, and once I get used to it, I will continue to test my theory. But excuse me, for now I need to find a gas station.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

GOOD NUTRITION

I happen to be an expert on good nutrition. Having spent my time on the many diets the Little Woman has devised for me, I now can tell you the difference between calories and fats and fats and carbohydrates. The difference being that they are all bad for you. I think.

I break food down to the three main food groups: small, medium and large. I always eat light, nothing dark. Eating light on an empty stomach is a very bad idea. It causes air pocket in the intestines that form gas. Unless your gas goes at $3.15 per gallon too, not a good idea.

A basic rule of culinary discipline is that if it tastes good, spit it out immediately, and no fooling around. I myself have been relegated to a saw dusk diet. There is a variation in the sawdust diet, in that you can have either maple or oak saw dust for special occasions. On all other occasions, you must have plain pine saw dust, except your birthday, when you may imbibe on sugar pine.

When the question of beverages comes up, I am personally very strict. I choose a strict regime of Gentleman Jack, as in Jack Daniels Manhattans. The concoction helps prevent the dying of my stomach lining (the alcohol preserves it) and the name Jack Daniels give you someone to talk to about your diet.

Attention all you married men. When your wife goes on a diet two things occur if she loses weight. First, she will make you go on the same diet, whether you want to or not and secondly if you sleep with the woman, the pounds have a bad habit of shifting from her to you while you are both asleep! For instance, the little woman lost 1,25 pounds the first week, the very same 1.25 pounds you gained! Likewise, the second week, when she loses 2.45 pounds, you gain 2.45 pounds the second week. This is a fact of life, can’t be disputed, and besides, you won’t win any arguments with her. She might even call you “Fat Man”.

ATTENTION MICHAEL-
Congratulations on your graduation today! I am very proud as is Mom and Anthony.
I love you,
Dad

Friday, June 23, 2006

EVERYBODY’S SWEETHEART IS GRADUATING!

No, not me, but my niece Sarah Harrow is a graduate of high school! She was born only 18 ½ years ago as was my son, but without hair, Sarah was so bald that we had to keep her from the window because the light that shone off her head was blinding. Her mother, my baby sister would buy pink wool to tie around her head to make a bow.

She and my son would play quietly all day long, as her parents would visit for holidays or birthdays or some special occasion. She was and still is sweet as can be.

No one ever knew Sarah was about, always respectful and never voiced her opinion about what a nut I really am. I saw her recently and she now has long brown hair, and a pair of cheeks I could bite if she wasn’t a young lady. Her smile is infectious and sincere, her poise as polished as Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

They write songs about ladies, and she is a lady. Maybe Billy Joel should cut an album about the Lady from Satauket. She is just like my other nieces, with class and style, and a pretty smile.

When Sarah was younger, just entering her teens, she had a nervous laugh, and never realized how much we all adored her, that she had nothing to be nervous about, and we had nothing on her. She now sports a boyfriend, going off to college, driving a car. Wow! She is all grown up, and although I’m growing older, I look forward to her day in the sun, when she commands the attention of the whole church of friends and relatives, and Sarah with her very lucky guy finally gets the day of recognition, for her beauty, charm and brains, not to mention her modesty, and kindness.

Congratulations Sarah on your graduation, and congratulations on the great job of growing up into an adult with class and style. The whole family loves you. Especially Uncle Joe.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

HELLO MUDDER

I went and visited my Mom tonight to see how she’s doing in the ICU at Brookhaven Memorial Hospital. I’m sure you’ve heard of places like this, where you scheme to get buy the receptionist, or walk buy the desk and just head to the elevator, or you are chicken like I am and actually go to the receptionist and ask for a pass. The gentleman prints out the pass and says without looking at me “third floor, make a quick right off the elevator then a quick left. If you do find it, come back and I’ll give you more challenging directions to get there.” Being how I have a very sore foot and leg from being on my feet all day I intend to make only slow rights and lefts.

If you are like me, the personnel at hospitals, especially the nurses on ICU’s can seem a bit bossy. They like to tell you what to do, and how to do it. Of course I get lost with the slow right and then slow left off the elevator as all I see is a rather heavy door that looks like it belongs to an old abandoned storage room. It’s where they are keeping my Mother.

There is a large sign that reads:

VISITORS:
Brookhaven Hospital reserves the right to smack you around if we deem it necessary up here in the ICU. This is for our patient’s protection. Please cooperate or you’re gonna get it.

I push open the huge door and start to search for Mom, passing an array of cubicles, fully manned by nurses on telephones while practicing looking mean.

Nurse Bromide: “May I HELP you?”

Me: (Humbly) “I’m looking for Olympia.”

Nurse Bromide: “She’s three rooms down, visiting is for 45 minutes ONLY”

I start searching, one room after another. I suddenly start hearing a slow rumble, as the floor starts to shake and the nurses drop their clipboards and phones and hang on as the room rocks. Ah, I found Mom, asleep and snoring, it sounds like a crew of sailors snoring! (Dad was right!) I’m at a crucial crossroad in this visit, do I awaken her, and risk a mighty blow across the jowls for disturbing her sleep or do I wait as I think about Nurse Bromide’s “visiting is for 45 minutes ONLY”? Just then my nephew the Macaroni Man shows up. A brief “Hello” and Mom stirs awake. Mom jumps slightly, and looks surprise. She says my name, and then says the Macaroni Man’s name, totally confused. “Mom, did we awaken you, you were asleep.” “Oh no, I was just reading this magazine” which happens to be ten feet away from her.

“Ma, you were snoring!”
“I don’t snore”
“It sure sounded like it!”
“You know I’m still you Mother, sharp, don’t get so smart or you will get Il bastone grande! (The big stick)
“Ma, maybe I heard my stomach growl instead

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

COME-ONA-GIT-OUT

That was her name. Not Ms. or Miss or Mrs. Come-ona-git-out.

She was the next-door landlady, owner of her apartment house, keeper of the realm, and constant source for teasing or tormenting of my fellow human being. I was not alone in this endeavor, being how it was my older sister who taught me this outlet for juvenile self-entertainment. She in turn learned it from all the other kids on the block. As Mom would say when we did something she didn’t like, but we did because all the kids did it: “If they all jump off the Brooklyn Bridge, are you going to do it too? I find that comment interesting. First: she choose the BROOKLYN Bridge, not just any bridge, secondly; How does she know ALL the kids have to jump to make her statement qualify for it to be remembered?

Come-ona-git-out was the little Old Italian lady who spoke broken English. Come to think of it, that’s all I ever heard was broken English and Italian swear words. What caused us to call her that was that’s all she ever said to us kids. If we were pounding our rubber Spaulding against her stoop for 10 hours a day, for some reason she would stick her head out the window and yell” Come-ona-git-out.” When we ran away, waited for her to go back into her apartment, and then continued on her stoop to pound for another few minutes, she went and got a pot of hot water to throw on us and yell yet again “Come-ona-git-out” while we scattered like a bunch of pigeons in St. Mark’s Square.

We would then go to our stoop next door, pound it for a moment, wait for her to come flying out her window, where she saw us on our own stoop, she would have to go back inside, where we would all laugh our fool heads off, and slip over again to her stoop.

The game of Stoop Ball had 2 very important rules, One rule was to score as many points as possible to beat your opponent, and the second rule was to try to get Come-ona-git-out to come out her window as many times as possible.

We were all really good kids, its just that no one ever told us that, so instead we acted like stinking rotting little bastards.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

SITTING WITH THREE WOMEN ALL DAY LONG

God has given me a mission: the mission is to suffer. My older sister greeted me this morning at 6:00 am at the local hospital. Being how she is considerably older than I am, I have to humor her, as she was filed with complaints and hardship stories. We met at the hospital to admit my Mother so she could remove a cancerous kidney. Gratefully, the operation was a huge success, and Mom is doing well. My older sister is not doing so well since she had a litany of complaints that I was compelled to listen to.

As I walked into the hospital, she greeted me at the revolving door, that if you misstep, makes a patient out of you. She was holding a cup of coffee so I knew she was really hyper, having left footprints on the ceiling of the hospital.

“I’ve got news for you, are you ready for this?” I being the sweet and kind brother that I am (also younger) listen. She begins by telling me that my brother-in-law has diabetes! You know why men die before their wives do? They want to. And I am sure my brother-in-law is now considering this as an option. She fails to mention that my Mother is either nervous or upset, or what kind of state she is in.

If it is not suffering enough, I have to listen how “he” was warned about his diet, and now he is on his own, no more concern on her part, as she yells and carries on about his eating habits. I say that if a man brings home a walnut coffee ring, fresh from the bakery, he is a saint, no, THE saint of all of heaven. If she continues to go on about this man, I will have to ask him to start bringing the coffee ring to my house.

After her litany of complaints, she makes the statement that if she ever had to give up anything, we could kiss her goodbye!

Next to arrive on the scene is my baby sister, the final act of torture perpetrated upon my person by my parents. Although not complaining, goes into immediate agreement about how helpless men are. I continue my suffering. I think, God if you are watching, give me a break. He does, another sister comes along. Right about now I’m thinking, “Maybe a kidney removal isn’t so bad”

Mom goes in for her operation as one by one we kiss her good luck and tell her we will see her after the operation in two hours. Since we have to wait for two hours, and it is 7:30 am, we decide to go for breakfast. I am starving, they are all three sisters, skinny. (I hate them) One picks a bowl of cereal; one has a bagel, and one just coffee. I see and smell scrambled eggs, I see bacon, and I see Kaiser rolls with the little black seeds! I strike, “I’ll have two scrambled with bacon on a Kaiser roll. I figure I’ll hold the butter, no sense in over doing it. I take my tray with my breakfast sandwich, get a fresh brew of java, and march proudly to a table. I think “maybe they’ll sit somewhere else so I can eat this in peace” One by one they descend down around me. Covering all the space in the booth. I pretend I don’t see them as they start to put their mouths in motion. One of them spots my meager breakfast and points it out. “Hey, look at what he’s eating!” “You’re not supposed to eat that!” “I’m telling Ellen on you.” Boy, the meanness really comes out of these broads! I begin to explain how the doctor said I could eat this, since it helps to motivate my diet. They look confused, and I think, it is working! They are buying my explanation! Now although the doctor didn’t exactly say it in the order of the words I laid out, I figure he has used these words in one form or another, so I don’t consider it a lie.

We return to the waiting room to wait out the last hour. My Mother, being a volunteer at the hospital, has made many friends there. One by one little old ladies in volunteer uniforms file by paying their respects. Soon the nurses start doing the same. We are introduced to the cafeteria staff; I’m starting to feel like the son of a Mafia Don. Who shows up carrying a book on diabetes? Why it’s my brother-in-law, looking scared and haggard as my oldest sister looks on. He has a plan, a very good plan. He will bury his nose into the book, pretend he is reading, and my older sister (much older) will not berate him.

One by one we visit Mom after her operation. She complains about how her side hurts from the cracked rib, and I assure her that the pain will be gone before she knows it. I explain to her that although it hurts like getting hit with one of her wooden spoons on me, unlike the wooden spoon pain, it will go away. What do I know, but what could I say. I just hope the pain does leave soon, before she comes after me with one of her wooden spoons for lying to her.

Monday, June 19, 2006

AN EVENING OF ROMANCE-OR WHAT THE HELL!

Yes, it was billed a romantic evening, just the two of us. The two of us being the Little Woman and myself and the night we have been waiting for, for a long time. The night out without the kid, without distraction, without interference, with no one but us, the evening we planned.

Ha!

We choose for our anniversary evening celebration the ever popular, and ever expensive Mamma Lombardi’s, home of the magic meatball and the disappearing bank account. Our youngest son Michael now works in the pizzeria, and we decided to take him to work while we got a table for the two of us in the main restaurant.

We were told to “walk this way” by the hostess, and although my wife could, I felt self-conscious walking that way. We were seated, and immediately Sean Penn our waiter came over and introduced himself, as I didn’t know if I should shake his hand or tell him my name too. As Mr. Penn went off with our cocktail order and tell Mr. Lombardi his next vacation to Italy was seated, the Little Woman and I struggled with the menu. We haggled over the Clams Pepsi cola and the mozzarella long johns on page 13 of the appetizers when the waiter, our new and personal best friend reappeared. “Will you be having the clams Pepsi cola?” says he. The Little Woman is taken aback and says “er-no, we are ordering the cold anti pasta.” As Mr. Penn departs with the appetizer order a sudden flash occurs before my eyes.

There standing before me, is my son Michael the pizza flinger. The Little Woman’s reaction is “What?” while mine is “Why?” Never looking at me until after his statement, he informs us that his boss is sending him home because the business traffic in the pizzeria is light on Mondays, and can he sit with us until we finish so we can take him home? The Little Woman and I debate the merits of killing our prodigy there and then, verses one of us running him home. My wife flips a coin and again I lose the toss (I’ve never seen the other side of that coin she uses in 35 years) so I take him home. I return to the “Ristorante Napolitano” a little agitated (agita) and sit with the Little Woman again. “Boy that was fast!” says she. “Do you want me to go out and return again in 10 minutes?” says I “and don’t call me boy” I add.

Finally Mr. Penn returns, takes our order, relating his personal favorites, but accepting what we order anyway. He departs and I give the Little Woman her anniversary gift. She accepts it with a big surprised look on her face because of what I got her, and later in the evening tries it on. That of course makes me feel like a million dollars, but I try not to show it. Meanwhile Mr. Penn returns, and places our dishes before us, while commenting on the Little Woman’s gift. Mr. Penn the waiter just won’t go away quietly returns and asks if I’m going to finish the dish in front of me. Mr. Penn asks the Little Woman, “Do you think he will? I ask him if he would be willing to bet on it, and he demurely declines and retreats, fearing for not only his tip, but also the bill. Finally Sean Penn returns again, sees that I ask for a doggy bag and laments that he should have bet me. I respond that he would have lost no matter what he bet. He looks at the Little Woman and comments now that she is wearing the gift.

The lesson tonight is:

1) Run away from your kids.

2) Run even further away from your waiter

Sunday, June 18, 2006

“35 YEARS WITH THE SAME WOMAN”

Today is our 35ft Wedding Anniversary, and as my Dad used to say “35 YEARS WITH THE SAME WOMAN.” Not that anyone should care except me and the Little Woman, but there is a lot I should say about marriage, in lieu of the fact that June IS the traditional month for marriages.

I happened to marry a jack-of-all-trades, a persons who wears many hats and disguises in fulfilling her function as a married woman. Let me elaborate:

Wife, - she cooks, cleans, and generally takes care of the house endlessly-she’s making me tired. I look at her and I want to go back to bed, as she scurries about doing something or other. She really is a great cook, makes a mean sauce, yet can still keep me alive in spite of my bad eating habits.

Mother, - “Michael” seems to be the only word she yells out, or “MICHAEL…TIME TO GET UP, I’M NOT CALLING AGAIN, MICHAEL GET UP.” She will repeat this until all the Michaels of the world get up. Other phrases the Little Woman uses are: Did you hear from your son? Or “Don’t forget to remind me about calling for Ellen.”

Forewoman, - just over 5 feet tall, she walks around the place snapping out orders, telling me what she wants me to do next. I find this very amusing, and go along with it since if I don’t I would disappoint her and I need the exercise. The fascinating thing is, she is right there with me, working harder than I do.

Saint, - Every Sunday she goes out for Mass, and practices her faith. Regardless of the weather, road conditions or location. The Little Woman teaches little children about God, and helps them make their First Holy Communion, every week, sending notes home to the parents that I have to create on my computer, making class projects that I have to make on my computer, books for her class that I have to make on my computer, and a big sign board that celebrates all the communion classes, and of course, I make on my computer. She is very generous with my computer.

Career Woman, - Every week she goes off to work, happily communicating with others beside her family. When she comes home, over dinner we go over our day, how we spent it, and whom we might have met. She has introduced me to hundreds of members of her credit union, and entertained me with their stories, even though I never met these people. Fortunately I don’t have to hear the details of their finances, just their attitudes and gripes, or whatever little mission she was assigned to that day, and how it all turned out.

Fortunately for me, she is healthy and vibrant, and I think still a looker. She is very thoughtful, kind hearted, and on most days pleasant, with a beautiful smile and a sweet voice. Whenever I see her, or even hear her voice my blood pressure goes up and a very happy glow fills me with joy. I guess I still love her after all these 35 years, and think I am luckier than any man on the planet, dead or alive.

Thanks Toots, I love you. You honored me with 35 years of your life; I hope I didn’t disappoint you too much.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Dear Dad,

Thought I’d drop you a line or two to let you know how it’s going.

You would really love those Mets now! They have these kids, Reyes and Wright, something like Jackie Robinson and Ron Hunt, only better. Hitting, stealing bases and winning ballgames all over the place, geez, it’s great to be a Mets fan again!

As you may well know by now, Mom is doing better than we thought she would, and actually goes back to volunteering at the hospital as of last Friday.

Hey, would you be excited too see your name on TV, every time your Grandson Anthony gets a credit. Ellen and I jump out of our chairs and sometimes, we even see him appear on a few shows! I keep thinking that I wish you could witness it. He’s doing well and we’re proud. You know he graduated from UNC in ’96. I wish he’d get married; I tire of worrying about his living alone.

Ellen your granddaughter is living in a home that treats her like the Queen she is, she has her own room, goes to a program every workday, a nurse is on the premises, and the doctors come once a week. Plus she gets her nails done, and her hair, as they come to her home to do it. I still am a member of the Board of Directors so I feel good about her future. In fact, they made me President of the Board for 3 years. I know, what were THEY thinking.

Michael graduates high school next Saturday, and because he doesn’t know for sure what he wants to do with his life yet, decided to go to Suffolk Community College for a year or two, and then transfer. You’d be proud of him too. He’s a very caring person, seems to like to consider the downtrodden, and I keep trying to get my name on his consideration list, especially when he calls at 11:30 at night to have us come pick him up. And guess what-he’s selling pizza at Mamma Lombardi’s just like you used to as a kid!

You should see Rollic, that building is a silent reminder of days past. I guess I shouldn’t have expected it to survive without you to run the shipping department.

I’m working in Hicksville now for a direct marketing company, planning and executing all their creative strategies. We actually produce over a billion and a half pieces nationwide. Something like Sears.

Ellen my wife is working at Teacher’s Federal Credit Union. She seems to enjoy her job, and works with and for some really nice people. You ask her how her day went, and she’ll tell you, and you begin to know about the members who come in, some are sad stories, some are funny, all interesting. She still does a great job as a Wife and Mother. Looks a lot younger than me.

If you see my Father-in-law Jim, wish him Happy Father’s Day, and tell both Jim and Helen we miss them and that they each have a blog coming up. Does Helen light up Heaven like she lit up Earth?

You know a lot has gone on since you left, and I been meaning to tell you that without you teaching me about hard work and the value of it, plus a lot of life’s lessons, I would not have made it this far. Thanks a million, and Happy Father’s Day. I know the girls would want me to thank you too, and wish you a Happy Father’s Day, along with all your Grandchildren and Great Grandchildren!

Love, your only son,
Joseph,

Friday, June 16, 2006

FINDING THE RIGHT MIX

My mailbox is smoking, as the graduation invites start rolling in, and we prepare for our own party. Of course when you plan for something, nothing goes right, as the weather man doesn’t cooperate, and because of that the pool service, and lawn service are all behind. Add to the mix the fact that the weather impacts everything when you have as much rain as we have had lately. The mildew seems to have overcome everything, and it makes life harder when you live with the Little Woman. I’ve decided that she missed her calling. Her talents are utilized improperly, the Little Woman should have been a work colony foreman, or a prison guard for a road gang.

I’m doing hard time presently, as the foreman or should I say forewoman marches around the yard, snapping out orders and finding assignments for me to do. Any slacking off will immediately cause me to spend time in solitary confinement, on bread and water rations. The water will probably come from the top of the pool cover as we pump that everyday all day in prep for the pool man to come and open the darn thing before the party.

Yesterday was spent scrubbing the brick down to eliminate the mildew. Devising mixtures to effectively make the scrubbing easier, the Little Woman has once again, and she always has in the past, improvised, and come up with solutions to new problems. I need her to come up with a new improvisation-my poor sore body, needs relief. We do have a robot that cleans the pool, climbs the walls, and does the steps too. Can’t she find a robot to take my place? “Aquabot” is the name of the robot for the pool-how about “Husabot”to replace me? It could do all the work outside, pick up the kid at night, and even sit and listen when she talks. I’m sure if she thinks about it long enough, she can come up with a solution.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

OUR BABY IS SICK-CLOSE THE WORLD DOWN

Recently the youngest called his Mom at her job, to tell the Little Woman he is home, being sent home sick by the school. The Little woman demanded 20 statements from the school, and a sworn affidavit from the Board of Education, in this regard. She immediately called me at my office to tell me and I relate to you what happened.

My phone rings-
Me: Joe Del Broccolo
She: Hi Joe, it’s me………………Ellen.
Me: Oh! Hi! What’s Up?
She: Michael called: the school sent him home. He threw up.
Me: (Thinking) Don’t people ever throw down, that’s where it goes?
Me: Is he OK?
She: I think so; we’re just going to have to watch him.
Me: You think he’s faking it?
She: No, his Math tests are all over now, who knows.
Me: Any chance we should be leaving the country???
She: No, the police haven’t arrived.
Me: Look, I’m willing to cooperate, as long as the authorities don’t touch my retirement account.
She: You are his father: you have to stick around.
Me: I want a blood test done first, before I admit to that.

Later that evening I arrive home, the little Woman is in her chair, looking worried.
I’m thinking maybe the police came, but no, he’s safely in bed with 101 degrees of pure temperature. I move past the kitchen table where I see a thermometer, a bottle of aspirin, and a Dr. Spock’s “What’s Wrong With My Baby?” book on the table.

Me: I guess no dinner tonight.
She: What’s more important, your stomach or your son?
Me: Does he have to be that important tomorrow morning for breakfast too??
She: I just took his temperature: it went down to 101.
Me: Should we call the doctor?
She: Let’s wait and see how it goes.
Me: Can I wait with a pizza coming too? You think it was something he ate?
She: No, it is something he caught, probably in school. He hasn’t come downstairs since 2:30 this afternoon, when he went to the bathroom!
Me: Well, you know how those things go, when ya gotta go: ya gotta go!
She: He’s coming down now!
Me: Maybe he hasta go! Maybe we should be take precautions; Maybe I should get Mr. Jack Daniels. (Used only for medicinal purposes)

Now I’m starting to feel relieved, no one wants his kid sick.

Me: Heh, how ya doin??
He: Good
She: Feeling better Michael?
He: Yeah
She: Want something to eat?
He: Only a little bit. Do you have some of those veggie burgers left? And maybe a little salad with croutons and ranch dressing? And, Oh, how about a roll with the little black seeds to go with that burger?

Authors note:
Some of this story may have been enhanced because of an uncertainty in some of the details, as it was after the visit by Mr. Jack Daniels that it gets kind of murky.
______________________________________________________________________

An engineer, a physicist and a mathematician are staying in a hotel.
The engineer wakes up and smells smoke. He goes out into the hallway and sees a fire, so he fills a trash can from his room with water and douses the fire. He goes back to bed.
Later, the physicist wakes up and smells smoke. He opens his door and sees a fire in the hallway. He walks down the hall to a fire hose and after calculating the flame velocity, distance, water pressure, trajectory, etc. extinguishes the fire with the minimum amount of water and energy needed.
Later, the mathematician wakes up and smells smoke. He goes to the hall, sees the fire and then the fire hose. He thinks for a moment and then exclaims, "Ah, a solution exists!" and then goes back to bed.

SHE’S AROUND HERE SOMEWHERE

A few nights ago the Little Woman and I had to attend a function, and decided to meet after work for a bite beforehand. The chosen rendezvous was a soup and sandwich place, very popular with the old yuppie crowd. I say “old” because they have grown older, and still cling to their annoying little habits of breathing. I should really call them guppies now for growing older the “G” for grown.

Up on a wall behind the counter, is a huge menu board, that is so big, it is hard to read it all because of the expanse. Being on a diet, I know I will take the opportunity to again find an excuse to go off it, but before I surrender, I need to fire at least one shot, then give up the ship. I pretend first by looking at the salads offered, as I converse with the Little Woman, and can’t decide. Oh, well, I guess it will have to be something delicious for a change. For your edification, I have been married to the Little Woman for 35 years on the 19th of this month, and have still not learned.

NEVER, EVER, TURN YOUR BACK ON THE LITTLE WOMAN WHEN TALKING TO HER IN PUBLIC PLACES.

There, I said it.

“Why?” do you ask?

Because she is not around, THAT”S WHY!

She has either stopped along the way, or wandered off somewhere.

And what am I doing do you ask?

Well, continuing my conversation with the open space around me, while people start to cross the street to avoid the nut talking to himself. You will find me walking maybe a quarter of a mile, with a conversation going on, sometimes very animated.

Last evening was no different.

Fortunately, there were two very nice and understanding ladies who happened to appear behind me, while the young lady behind the counter, as disinterested as she was, watched, waiting for my order.

When I turned around, the Little Woman was gone! Disappeared into thin air! Vanished, as were all my dignity as I became amazed that she WAS gone, and I asked the young lady behind the counter, as disinterested as she was, waiting for my order, where did my wife go? I suddenly see the two ladies behind me for the first time, and search, looking around the place. I look at the ladies; they look at me, and point far away, where the Little Woman was standing, reading a printed menu! “Oh, don’t feel bad, my husband never talks to me either,” says one of the ladies.

One of these days, the Little Woman is going to get such a shot…

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

BEING A BOARD MEMBER REQUIRES NO HEAVY LIFTING

I happen to be a member of a Board of Directors. Being how my Daughter Ellen is in two of the programs for the Association for the Help of Retarded Children, I felt I should volunteer my time and little talents I really do have, and help them to raise money and do whatever else I can. The only reason I got on the Board was they were looking for a warm body, and when they lifted my eyelids one of them said, “He’s still alive, let’s make him a member.”

Every month, on the last Tuesday of the month we meet as a board that is comprised primarily of parents, business and medical people. Sitting around a very long table that holds over 30 people, we listen to the Executive Director give us a summary or report that we then comment on. Around the table are some very interesting characters.

1. Retired person – Takes his/her time in asking a question or making a comment, no matter how late it is, while my stomach is saying to me “hey, you haven’t eaten since noon, don’t you wish he/she would shut up?”

2. Medical field person – Likes to give a medical opinion or some medical assessment, likes to talk, knows plenty you don’t and is going to repeat him/her self. Meanwhile my stomach is still in deep conversation with me.

3. Insurance person – Knows insurance, what is our liability insurance in this matter, and here’s what happens a lot “In these cases.” Stomach now in conference with my backside that has been sitting for over three hours. They may issue a joint statement soon.

4. Parent – Gets angry, demands to know more when there is no more to know. Generally has had a very good dinner, and you can tell this just by looking at him/her.

5. Older Board member, never left the room in 30 years on the Board, eats paper, or rather last month’s minutes, and has the attitude that there is nothing you can tell him/her, they know more than the Executive Director, and wants to understand better, item 14a of the monthly financial report’s increase of paper clips by .125% in the past month.

6. Banker – Has read the financial report, could care less, but if you put it all in his/her bank, it would “yield” some really great numbers. As a matter of life policy, will not eat, and never did.

Now no Board member ever asks for permission to speak, we just blurt out what’s on our minds, except for any former Catholic School students, who always raise their hand, shake it wildly and sometimes go ooh, ooh.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

LET’S GET OUT THERE AND PLANT

OK, another lost weekend in the back yard. The Little Woman decided she wanted to put one (1) plant in a spot in our garden in the back behind the den. I figured, “Oh good, not too expensive”

We get to the nursery, and we buy (12) twelve plants, because I want to pot a few behind the pool, she wants to put some in a flower holder by the pool and don’t forget the garden where we put (2) plants-cost: a dislocated back, aching hands, dirt under the fingernails, sore feet and a lot of money.

We are in the nursery and she says: “get me out of this place, I’m spending too much money, how much are those plants over there?” Or “O.K, you have looked at 12,000 different shade plants, now make a decision.” Or “Ask the man over there what kind of plant this is and is it good in the shade?”

Of course we never learn, when we go to the nursery two things take over.

1.) A charity runs the nursery for retarded children and adults so the money we spend goes to a good cause.

2.) We have just redesigned the landscape around the house, so we are really getting into landscaping.

Lugging the plants homeward, we think about how nice things will look, and how poor we now are, and how truly well the charity is suddenly doing.

I remember when I couldn’t even grow weeds. I would try to plant grass, and I got sand. Yes, I grew sand. Lots of it too, since it sprung up everywhere. My wife never told the kids, “Don’t bring dirt into the house” no she would say “Don’t bring sand into the house”. But the kids always felt that they were at the beach all day, even in the winter. The folks at Jones Beach would call to buy sand from me to fight the erosion from the storms. So when we moved into a bigger house, my son asked me to get rid of the beach and get a pool instead.

I did have a huge placement of vines that started on the garage wall, and spread to half of the back yard that I inherited when I bought my first house. It was impossible to walk back there, and I didn’t know how to get rid of it. It was a monumental job to do by myself, so one day I got an idea. My neighbor had gotten a fireplace, and needed fire wood. I told my neighbor he could cut down about six trees that populated the vine growth if he pulled out the vines too. Next day I come home from work, and it looks like the Great Plains, Big Sky Country, and the Bonneville Salt Flats all rolled into one.

In that old house, everything was old, in this house I live in now, I’m the only thing old.

Monday, June 12, 2006

ZIA FRANCESCA, MATRIARCH

She came to this country when she was only 15. With her brother Felix, they traveled across the pond and took with them their heritage. She was an improviser, a businesswoman, a mother, an organizer, and a leader. She was everyone’s aunt; she was a confessor, and a giver of comfort and money. She was no taller the 4’ 9”, and spoke broken English, raised three children in a shack without a husband who died of the Spanish flu serving our country.

She buried her son and soon after died herself, at the age of 97, when her body could not go on any longer, yet her brain could.

During the Great Depression, she owned both a pizzeria and a vegetable store. Her children all treated their friends to the movies because they were the only one’s with money.

Every year she made a pilgrimage to Italy to help poor village children, where they finally named a building after her years later.

For all her kindness, she was revered in the Italian community in Brooklyn. On any given Sunday, while the sauce cooked, and the house was filled with company, her phone would ring off the hook with people calling about the pilgrimage or the bus rides to some shrine in upstate NY. While this was happening, a steady stream of visitors would ring her bell, and by one’s and two’s, parade into her large kitchen to visit and speak their Italian, talking anything from world politics to the cost of a good salami at the deli. People would come to her for financial help, or perhaps they had a problem in the community, and could she take care of it? She even took care of the birds that gathered in her yard, eating the bread that she tossed out her screen door. Her yard was adorned with figs that hung from the trees, and grapes that were so sour, yet she turned them into sweet wine. Her cellar had a press for grapes, and one for tomatoes where she bottled her own sauce and wine.

Zia Francesca raised not only her children but her nieces and nephews as well. They came here from the old country, and she would sponsor them, giving them a home, and helping them find a job. She was their safe haven in a foreign world.

Her children all feared her, yet loved and respected her. No one could smoke in her presence if you were a daughter or niece.

In the end, after she died there was a huge void that settled over her family, one that because my dad was already gone, put a finality to life as I knew it to be, and brought home to me the fact that not only do we pass on, but we live on in the hearts and souls we leave behind, so in essence, we never die. We hear our parents in ourselves, we develop taste that are instilled in us, and it is all part of life’s continuity

Friday, June 09, 2006

HARRY

When I was still in college, I used to commute via the Long Island Rail Road. Every morning at the same time, in the same car, I would find this fellow named Harry who worked for the Railroad. Most mornings Harry would lean against the window and sleep. On rear occasions, he would be talkative and relate some interesting insights, not to mention interesting English. Harry had come from his native Sicily, and established very deep roots on Long Island.

Harry was a friend of my Uncle who also worked for the L.I.R.R., and we would all sit together. But for 10 minutes or so, it was Harry and me all by ourselves, before my Uncle climbed aboard the train.

One Monday morning I found Harry awake, and asked him how his weekend was.

Me: Hey Harry how was your weekend?

Harry: Oh, Ima buyer a suit. Ima gotta go to a wedding.

Me: Where did you buy the suit?

Harry: Hoh, I’ma go to a Rabbit Hole.

Me: ????

Me: Where?

Harry: A Rabbit Hole.

I thought about this for a moment and said:

Harry, do you mean Robert Hall, the clothes store at the end of Medford Avenue?

Harry said: Eh, a you say it a hur way, I sayer it a mine.

ARRIVERDECCI, ROMA

When we were in Italy last, we decided to take a train from Rome to Florence to spend about a week. The trip is a few hours north and I thought that it would be a great way to see the countryside, particularly the Tuscan countryside. The Little Woman and I boarded a train in the late morning and were assigned a classical compartment type car, a little room if you will. When we entered, we discovered a family was already occupying the compartment, so we shared with this Italian family of husband, wife, son and daughter, kind of like a “Leave It To Beaver” Italian Style. Of course there was no daughter in the Beaver shows, but since Wally was such a fag, he can take the sister’s place on the train.

June sat between Wally who was leaning against the window, and me, sitting next to the door on my right. The Little Woman sat next to Ward and the Beaver who was leaning against the window, opposite Wally. We exchanged nods with the Cleavers and leaned back to enjoy the ride north. Both Wally and Beaver had headphones on and the Parents were sitting very quietly. The trainman came to collect our tickets and we were off to beautiful Florence! As we rode, at the stroke of noon, June opened up this huge canvas bag and pulled out a bottle of wine, and big loaf of bread, the size of a large serving platter, a rather grand size piece of cheese, and a long salami. Out came a knife that was so long, it might have been part of Garibaldi’s arsenal! With the agility of a sushi chef at Benehana’s, she began to divi up the goodies, by first inviting us to join them for lunch. When I declined, she raised the knife slightly, and I realized that maybe I was too quick to say “no” and decline her offer. So “Yes” it was. I really don’t know if she saw me decline, but why take chances with Garibaldi holding a saber.

We finally arrive in Florence and decide to walk to the hotel from the station. This is around 3:30 pm, and before we begin, we decide to drag the luggage that is on wheels behind us. We step out, and have to cross this big piazza, that is 3-sided and lined with hundreds of Italians sitting on the surrounding steps, watching us as we traipse across the square, giggling as we struggle with our suitcases that appear to be top heavy and about to tilt over with each cobble stone we cover. The more they giggle, the angrier I become, and now I’m about to take on all of Florence, and if they want, they can bring in all of Italy! It’s about 90º in the shade, and more humid than the Mediterranean Sea. So my patience has worn thin, and my poor wife, struggling behind me is listening to me as I started barking.

We arrive at the hotel, into this very old building with a modern lobby, and this really stunning brunet who takes one look at us, and smiles. With the grace of a stallion, she takes long strides with bronze coated legs, and steps behind the registration counter. Well, maybe I won’t take on ALL of Florence, maybe just the few wise guys. In very good English she registers us, I smell her perfume and think, Ah, what are a few wise guy Italians anyway, just giggling good naturedly? Cleopatra tells us our rooms are ready, and there is a bar at the end of the lobby if we want to catch our breaths, as someone will bring up our bags to our room. From heaven to earth, just like that, as the Little Woman says: “that’s a good idea!”

Yes Virginia, there are angels. They live in Florence, just keep out of the piazzas.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

MY IRISH LUCK CONTINUES

It was a typical Irish morn, the blue sky, rolling verdant hills and babbling river brooks, all covered in a shroud of mist and dampness as the day began for me. There was a gentle touch, a almost hesitant nudge, no, come to think of it, it was more like a very sharp pointed instrument that awoken me from my slumber, interrupting my dream of wee little leprechauns, at my door, delivering a pizza.

The Little Woman needed her bag, the one that we kept all essentials in when traveling. Yes, it had the restaurant guide, along with other items not as essential, but good to have like: road maps, Bed and Breakfast listings, aspirin, and her book that she reads wherever at whenever the mood moves her. Usually the mood to read hits my wife first thing in the morning, before she got out of bed, before breakfast in the living room, at breakfast, lunch and dinner, while watching TV, and reading the newspapers. However, the Little Woman NEVER reads when giving me orders.

The first order of the day was issued, “Please go out and get the bag. It’s in the car.” “Yes, Dear” so I says, and swing over to the side of this very high, comfortable bed, that sat in the immaculate room, tastefully decorated with fresh flowers, starched linen doilies and country pictures depicting fields of flowers and roads lined with trees. I jump into my trousers, and slip on my sneakers and go out the door. I pass (This is an Irish establishment) pictures of the Guinness stout, Sacred Heart, St. Mary, Jesus praying in the garden, and Saint Patrick himself, plus a lot of dead people who must have been relatives to the owner of this bed and breakfast. Aye, it was a fine array of pictorial display, bejesus. I step out into the chilliness of the early morn, and meander through this beautiful garden, peppered with bushes and flowers of all kinds, with pathways that were covered with vines, as the path wined and twisted this way and that, until I came to my little red car, which was parked next to a pasture.

The morning visibility is nil, I can’t see more than 5 feet in front of me. My car slowly appears in the mist like the Lock Ness monster in Scotland, a little blurry and slowly appearing as the color became redder, and deeper. I get to my door, and open it without much thought. Standing in front of the car, I felt a spooky feeling, like I was being watched silently, by some unseen presence, perhaps passive, but perhaps not. I shrugged off the feeling and bent down as I reached for the bag. Suddenly, and without warning, I was pushed into the car! My head reeled from the anticipation of who or what it was that pushed me. It didn’t take long for me to find out what it was that pushed so firmly. A long string of MOOOOOOOO came out of the shrouded mist, as I turned around to see this big old cow, and I don’t mean the proprietor looking at me with her big round eyes.

Aye, all that steak, yet so far away, a good stout an I be thinkin' tis a grand day indeed.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

OK POP, TIME TO PAY UP!

Graduation day is quickly coming upon us. Time to open the old wallet and give the kid something for a job well done. He’d get even more if he got married that day and moved out, too. We will settle for just graduation, and the joy of knowing he wants to go on to higher education. Fortunately all the colleges I know ARE more than one story high.

I asked a question of the Little Woman as to what to get the kid for graduation. Having a party for him is not his graduation party but mine, since I’m celebrating that the kid isn’t stupid, therefore the party is not enough. I held on tight with white knuckles onto my throat and almost choked to death as I awaited her answer, praying for something under a second mortgage. She told me, and I sighed a sigh of relief, since it is not as expensive as the National budget.

When I was in high school, and graduated, my parents threw me a party too. I didn’t get a present for graduating, unless you think that Dad telling you: you will work all day for six days a week and occasional Sundays with special jobs for the boss a gift. The gift was in the job, it was appropriate because I was paying my own way through college, and had made arrangements to work at night after 6PM in Hill’s Supermarket, where I closed with the cleaning and stock crew at 11PM.

Of course my going to college made it possible for the kid not to have to worry about too many jobs, just one to keep him out of trouble, and give him a sense of worth in helping to defray the cost of his education.

I’m actually very proud of my son going on to higher education, and thinking about his future like he is, because when he is done educating himself, and gets that dream job, the Little Woman and I along with the dog, are going to move. We are going to move in with the kid, where he can take care of us for a change. In fact, I will get rid of both cars, so he can taxi us around, and pay for our late nights out on the town as he awaits our call at 1:30 AM telling him where we are.

Boy, I can’t wait.

THE EAST PATCHOGUE HORRORS

It all started innocently enough, one Sunday evening in early July of 1971. It was the first Sunday home from our honeymoon, and we retired to bed with all the Sunday papers, and a few snacks. We were renting an apartment from a gentleman named Harry, who bought old homes, fixed them up and either sold or rented them. He retired to a villa in Italy when he was about 50 years old. I will mention Harry in a later blog.

As we settled in, the Little Woman said she heard something. A “thump” coming out of the apartment upstairs from us, where the widow Dolly lived, and happened too be away on a vacation at the time.

I said to the Little Woman that maybe it was her imagination, and not to worry about it. Once again she heard the thump sound and again brought it to my attention. I suggested she lay off the wine on Sundays, but I knew darned well that I hadn’t heard the end of it. Already I was attuned to life at a young and tender age of living with the Little Woman.

She gave me instructions to go into the living room to see if I could hear it too. Being the really good and perfect husband that I aspired to be and did become I went out like she said. “Thump, thump, thump…”I heard it too! I reported back immediately, because she likes immediate reports from me, and related my findings. “Should we call the police?” said she, “What have I gotten myself into?” thinks I. “No, it’s probably the house settling or some silly little thing” I responded, convinced that I was not getting away with this answer, and that the police were as good as here already.

She issued new orders. “Go outside and look around,” said the Little Woman, as I dutifully saluted and went on my way. She likes the proper salute, fingers extended; thumb parallel to the forefinger, arm at a 45-degree angle, and upper arm parallel to the floor. As I began my reconnaissance I noticed that Dolly’s window was wide open, and the window overlook the roof extension for the porch over my front door and windows. I report back, and she gave new orders, “Call the police”, if she were a Brooklyn girl she would have called them “cops.” I responded, “Maybe I should climb up and look first?” “No, call the police.” Off I go to our shiny new yellow wall phone, that matches our décor and I call the police. They come, 3 squad cars full, completely surrounding the house, one decided to climb up on my trash cans, and shimmy up the pole that holds the porch roof, in which I had to cup my hands so he could get a step up on the trash can. The police finally come down and my wife is sitting on the couch as we come into the living room. “Gee officer, I’m really sorry to have to call you on a false alarm, she made me call” I apologized. “No, it was a smart thing to do, never take a chance.” Says officer Muldoon. “Yes sir, that’s what I figured.”

What was making the noise you ask? Don’t.

Monday, June 05, 2006

I ALWAYS TAKE CARE OF IT

Yes, all my married life I took care of it. It started one morning early on in life. We were living in our little apartment, the three of us, me the new bride, and the spider. Now the spider lived on the ceiling, and I didn’t know it until one morning as I rushed around the apartment to get ready for work and to catch a train.

The Little Woman didn’t work in those days, and was still in bed, as I scurried to find my keys. I kissed her goodbye, and mentioned the spider. The spider was a harmless house spider, fat with spindle legs that rarely moved.

That evening I came home from work, and there on the wall stood the spider, still alive and uncrushed if you will.

“I don’t kill spiders, that’s your job,” says the Little Woman. Where is the marriage contract, and where in the contract does it stipulate my jobs thinks I.

Well yesterday, while I was still looking for the wedding contract between innings, the Little Woman required my presence in the shed. I thought, “Good, I can look in the shed for the contract”. On our way out she turns her head and points in the opposite direction, and says “There’s a dead bird over there!” Here, every spring a bird comes to die. Yes, I own a bird cemetery. This year it is a crow, laying on it’s back dead as dead came be. As we are done in the shed, moving things around so the pool man can come to open my pool, I mention that I needed a bag to contain the dead bird. The Little Woman ran inside and got a large lawn bag made from plastic. As I held the bird on my shovel, the Little Woman was holding the bag at arm’s length, with her fanny sticking way out, looking in an altogether other direction than the business at hand, opening the bag.

We have lived with mouse traps, bees and God knows what else, and she has always sent me to take care of it.

There are untold hundreds of incidents in the last 35 years just like those I described, and I can’t believe that the Little Woman is the only person I am afraid of in all those years!

If I ever find that marriage contract, I’m going to change a few things.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

IT’S THE LAST NAME I’LL EVER USE.

Last evening the Little Woman and I went to a farewell party for a priest. The priest suggested the party, and I was sent an invitation to join the committee to put the show on. The first order of business was to keep it from the priest. After surprising us with his request, we would surprise him with his own party. You really have to be there to understand this.

First let me report on the important stuff, the food was excellent!

Other business we attended to at the farewell was reintroducing my wife to the Bishop that was invited. The Bishop’s name is Wcela. The connection is a very close one. He is the cousin to the man that married my sister-in-law’s husband sister. So as you can see he is just like close family.

Just like in my last name Del Broccolo, the “W” is missing, along with many more letters. Not only is the “W” silent in Wcela, but also the Bishop was missing, not unlike the “W” in my last name. We got up from our seats and went over to re-introduce the Little Woman, and we found ourselves starting to shake hands with a folded napkin!

Now my sister-in-law Maureen will probably be disappointed, because we don’t have a picture to send her.

Talk about silent letters and missing letters: my sister married a Dzicek! You ask how do you pronounce it? I say imagine trying to hurry up the word deep-six, and put a German accent to the rush of words. But wait, I forgot that this weekend I saw another sister and her Husband. Try this one on for size – are you ready? Here it comes! Sit first. Uyeno! Try to pronounce that one! What you have to do is drop the first letter, then go to the top of this little essay and borrow the “W” from Wcela and put it in front along with an “A”.

Fortunately my Brother-in-law is a prince of a man, and a Saint for marrying you know who, so no one makes fun of his last name. Besides, I’m working on a new spelling for Del Broccolo. How does Zckwdel Broccolo seem? I’m sorry; I still need two last names.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

A PRIVATE FLIGHT ISN’T ALL ITS MADE OUT TO BE

Way back in the late 70’s, I was at a convention outside of Philadelphia in Valley Forge where I had to give a speech in front of the Direct Marketing Association. The topic was “What came first, the chicken or the egg, copy or art?”

The speech went fine, supplemented with humorous slides that I had taken at the office in NYC, and it was received very well. I felt flush with victory as we decided to head home. I was with my boss, and a writer who happened to be a pilot. He owned his own plane, and reminded me often of the fact. As we left Valley Forge, the writer decided that he and I should be left off at Lynden Airport in New Jersey, where he would fly me home to Mac Arthur Long Island Airport in Bohemia, which was 5 minutes away from my home. That would save me a few hours on the train going home. I called my wife to pick me up at 5:00 p.m. that evening, and to meet me at the main terminal. We had two young children by then, being 5 and 4 years of age.

My boss dropped us off at the airport and continued on his way to NYC where he resided.
We boarded the Piper Cub that was parked in his rented space and took off. The flight was a lot of fun, as we flew around the Statue of Liberty, the Battery, and the East Side and headed out to Long Island. The weather and visibility was picture perfect. As we approached the Island, he radioed into Mac Arthur that we needed permission to land. Conversations with the tower went back and forth and we were cut off by another plane seeking permission, as the tower never gave us instructions as to where to park.

The plane descended to the long runway at a fast clip, and as we touched down, the pilot pulled up the brake to slow down the plane to a very smooth landing. Then we started to taxi over to the main terminal and as we did, the whole of airport security completely surrounded the plane, as guards and police got out with pistols drawn. The Little Woman, who was waiting and watching the whole process related to me after the ordeal that my son who was 4, said, “there’s Daddy!” The Little Woman, being the stout and devoted wife she was then and probably still is, grabbed the two kids by their hands and said “NO it’s not”, a real trooper by anyone’s standards.

The mega phones announced that we were to stay in the plane and not move, very loudly I may add. If it weren’t for the tower notifying the security force that we were cut off in the middle of instructions on where to taxi, I would be writing this from prison. The head of security very graciously allowed me to disembark and go into the main terminal from the tarmac.

Friday, June 02, 2006

LAND HO! HOHOHO!

It was a beautiful summer morning; the sky was a cerulean blue cloudless and sparkling with the newness of a fresh day. A new day for adventure when you’re 13 years old and nothing to do on a Saturday. I decided to go over to Dunton Lake to meet Schultz with my pal Jerry. Jerry lived just 2 doors down from me, and we paled around all too often. Schultz lived by the lake about 2 miles away, and his Mom invited Jerry and me to feast on a breakfast of waffles and bacon. After eating, Schultz said we should try something daring. We decided to cross the Great South Bay in his brother’s duck boat! We would go over to Fire Island, ogle the girls, and head back to East Patchogue, and Dunton Lake.

We stocked the boat which carried 3 people with an oar, a portable radio, a fishing rod, pail, a couple of bottles of Pepsi Cola and nothing else but our stupidity. We “shoved off” as they say around 10:30 a.m., slowly leaving the channel that separated the lake from the bay, set out south toward Fire Island, a destination of incalculable distance when sitting low in a duck boat. We put on the radio, and sailed across, each taking a turn at rowing the boat across with only 1 oar.

Around 1:30 in the afternoon, we noticed that the radio started to get static every now and then that didn’t occur all morning. As we went further along, more frequent became the static, as Cousin Brucie was drowned out by the noise. We started to notice the wind pick up, and a coolness overcome us as we started pitching and yawing in the middle of the bay. The sky had turned a dark grey to almost midnight black. Suddenly a Navy or Coast Guard trainer started buzzing us, and we got his message, we were heading right into a storm, or worst still, we were being engulfed in one.

We decided to turn around, since we hadn’t made much headway in the last hour and headed toward the channel again, the boat rocking, swaying, and pitching up and down. Water started to swamp our boat, and we figured we would lose it soon if we didn’t act quickly. Schultz decided to jump out of the boat, and hold on to the back and steer us to shore as he kicked his feet to act as a motor. Jerry was standing in the middle of the boat pushing with the oar, and I was bailing with a pail that was in the boat. Suddenly jerry lost his balance and fell back slightly and lost the oar! Now it was up to Schultz to get us back. By the grace of Schultz’s feet and legs, my arms, and any luck Jerry had that day, we made great headway. Jerry decided that the radio wasn’t doing us any good and decided to shut it off, when he reached to turn the thing off, he was shocked from the exposure of the radio to the water. However our troubles were not over yet.

Around 3:30 p.m., Schultz started crying out! What was happening was we were in the middle of a school of Jelly Fish, and they were stinging Schultz in the legs. Schultz climbed back into the boat, put on his pants over his bathing suit again, and we all decided to do the same thing. We each took turns swimming behind the boat as we paddled with our feet, until about 4:30 p.m., when we landed about 5 miles off course, west of the channel, at the Patchogue Mariner where we tied up and called for rides home.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

DRIVING WITH A IRISH ACCENT

This morning in the company kitchen, there was a fellow who just came back from a vacation in Ireland, and as he talked it reminded me of my last and only visit to the Emerald Isle.

It seemed we landed in Dublin on the Little Woman’s birthday and rented a car. This arrangement was very brave on my part as I made all the arrangement back in the States. When I got to the rental place, it was a Monday morning, the beginning of a workweek, and we are talking mad crazed Monday morning back to work Dublin drivers, not the countryside. We planned to drive the perimeter of the country, along the coast, visiting Mullengar first, her Dad’s hometown, and continuing until we arrived back in Dublin. We almost never made it out of Dublin. As we got into our little GEO, I noticed the steering wheel was missing, the little Woman said, “you drive on this side of the car in Ireland genius,” pointing to the steering wheel. Being how the car was paid for, I decided to give it a try.

We pulled out of the parking lot and onto the main road, kind of like 5th Avenue and Queens Blvd., but all the drivers are Kamikaze pilots. Immediately I got over to my left and started to hug the centerline of the traffic as fear started to overtake me, and I realized I was supposed to turn right soon according to the map, and couldn’t figure it out! Do you go over to the left when you turn right, or do you go over to the right? I decided to pass the turn and continue to try to figure this out, thinking how lost could I possible get on a small island like the Republic of Ireland? After driving a while, with angry Monday morning commuters on their way to their jobs, with big trucks following me and threatening to roll right over me. The street started to narrow! Narrower and narrower the street became, soon it was one lane, and the cars were parked on both sides of the street, as I cruised about 65 to 70 mph down this street, along with everyone else.

It became apparent to me that soon I would run out of room along the sides, and would have to carry the car over my head as I tiptoed down the road. AS I SAILED ALONG, THE SIDE VIEW MIRROR ON THE LEFT SIDE OF THE CAR HIT A PARKED CAR. My wife started screaming at me, “You broke the mirror!!!” I yelled back, just slap it back in place, which she did, since it was on hinges. I come to a red light, stop and decide I would make the first left hand turn at the light, which I did. I go down and decide to turn around. Hello, it was a one-way street, and I was heading the wrong way. Just then, 4 cars came down the street all at once side by side, heading right at me! I pull over to my right, and wait for the cars to pass, and make a mad dash for it. After stopping a while to clean my seat and a change of underwear, I slowly pried my wife’s fingers off of my neck, one by one. I said “Toots, it’s time to let go” but the fear had deafened her as she tried to either continue to hold on for dear life, OR try to take my dear life with one squeeze.

More to come soon about vacation driving in Ireland.