Wednesday, January 11, 2017


Growing up in my house, hearing my parents speak was always paid attention to, whether I did what they told me or not. Many times, they spoke to each other in Italian, and it wasn't until I got older did I learn that I needed to know what they were saying.

Both Mom and Dad were born here, and Dad's family spoke Italian exclusively, while Mom's family spoke in English. Her Dad was from Taranto and her mom from Bari, although Grandma herself was born here. Dads' family was from Naples and Rome, and both his parents emigrated to this country during the great influx of Italians during the early part of the twentieth century.

Mom and Dad spoke fluent Italian however they spoke different dialects which led to discussions about the different regions and why one was better than the other. Sarcasm and bickering were the fun parts of their conversations, making me laugh at them until the day they died, and implanted in my brain the never-ending reality that this is what Italians do!

Dad: "My people were of a higher status!"
Mom: "Oh pullleese Anthony, all your people do is shout at one another, now mine are quiet and reserved!"
Dad: "Then how come I can hear you?"
Mom: "My family were craftsmen and teachers (A long list of professions and crafts follow) while yours were peasants!"
Dad: "What are you talking about, my grandfather was an Admiral in the Italian Navy, and on my mother's side we owned an olive grove!"
Mom: "How could he be an admiral, your people lived in the mountains?"
Dad: "That's right, and when we were done eating and drinking, we threw our leftovers down the mountain where your people could place their cups and dishes to catch it all."

When discussions centered around the children, my parents resorted to an alternate language to deceive us, talk about things they felt we should not know about, including gossip and where the presents for Christmas were hidden. It was here that I trod in fear of the unknown, where they had the upper hand.

Mom: "Conoscete che cosa il vostro figlio ha fatto in chiesa?"
You know what your son did in church?
Dad: "Che cosa, ora?"
What, now?
Mom: "Ha messo i tasti d'argento nel cestino di accumulazione anziché soldi!
He put silver buttons in the collection plate instead of money!
At that point Dad spits out his coffee.

I was not sure who I belonged to. It seems depending on my lack of accomplishments and who noticed first, I was dubbed: "YOUR SON!" It was used by both and although nice to know I belonged to one of them, I didn't know which one.
When it came to raising me, they seemed to be on the same page. Dad never hit, but Mom sure knew how! Not only did she hit, but she developed an arm that could throw out Willie Mays from a deep center field with her ability and accuracy to hit you with a thrown shoe and the scariest part of it, you could be in another room a few rooms away and around the corner!

But all the things that happened were in fun, as a family, we constantly laughed at each other, our heads never got big because someone was always around to deflate it.

Me: "Boy, He/she is ugly!
Mom: "And you're so beautiful?"

Me: "I got an ‘A' today in school."
Mom: "So what do you want, a cigar? Go throw out the garbage."

Me: "I got a triple today, Dad!"
Dad: "Yeah, how come no home run?"

Were they proud of me? YES! They just refused to show me any kind of settling for the mediocrity of life.


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