Tuesday, July 25, 2017


Looks like Uncle Mimi
He was an extremely handsome man, born and bred in Italy and took his Italian traditions to America when he became a citizen. When he first came to America on a visa, he was young, single, handsome, and had a charming accent. He was my dad’s cousin and had that stereotypical look of a smoothly groomed Italian heartthrob.

close to Conchetta
I can’t recall what his real first name was but he made an impression as someone who had it all and could turn a disadvantage into a plus.

I recall his dress, a turtle neck shirt, black and silky, black slacks tailored to fit and black leather shoes, a cigarette in his thin long fingers that went with his thin long body and hands and a voice that sounded like he was softly interrogating woman on their choices of how to make love. We all looked at him in amazement when suddenly he was no longer around. He had come to visit his aunt, my grandmother and stayed for a short while and disappeared, just like that. I asked of him and was told he went back to Italy.

Then the news circulated, Mimi was coming back, and this time he was not alone, he had a wife! I pictured the woman to look like Gina Lollobrigida, beautiful, sexy and curves where God designed them to be.

Walking into my grandmother’s house one afternoon with my mom, there sat this lady at the table. She was no Gina, but she was striking! A beautiful round face that smiled from behind her beautiful blue eyes and honey hair, taking away my breath, I was in love.
Ollie on a good day

Conchetta was a natural beauty, not Hollywood made, and she could put all the makeup men and women to shame, just by not wearing makeup. A simple down-to-Earth natural beauty who spoke only in melodies that made birds sing and men weep, and she couldn’t speak or understand a damned word of English. My kind of gal.

Talking to her in English was a trial, as she smiled and laughed nervously when I spoke to her. Being only 8 years old, I imagined killing Uncle Mimi and together we would live a life of love and pasta, the way it should be. I started to get brave, telling her in English to get rid of Mimi and let’s run away. But little by little she began to speak English, words like “No”, “get the Hell out of here” or “I’ll tell your mamma”. Little things like that discouraged my further advances, and just as well, I didn’t have enough allowance money to court a 20 something-year-old woman anyway, and besides, her stomach was getting larger each time I saw her.

Then one day there she was, at my Uncle Mimi’s side, holding a baby! Where did that come from? I wondered. The kid looked like his old man, black hair, olive skin and almond eyes, he was prettier than a girl. His name was Ollie, a strange name if ever I heard one.

As if one surprise wasn’t enough, there was my beloved Conchetta, once again blooming and sure enough, wherever Ollie came from, his sister Josephina popped out from, and thus began the reign of terror!
Josephina had her father's eye.

From that beautiful woman of simplicity, culture and couth, and from the loins of the suave and gallant Italian man came two freaking monsters! Ollie, packed with caffeine in his shorts was so bad he was tied to a chair to watch TV quietly, while Josephina, a round little meatball, tough and ready to roll dominated the house, climbing walls and ceilings, furniture and even people, yelling in Italian and causing serious nervous breakdowns for both Grandma Frances and Grandpa Ralph!

Grandma decided that since she owned the building, she would sweep out the tenants upstairs in one of her apartments who were consistently behind in their rent and replace them with the family that created monsters!  There was only one problem with the solution, once they moved, my grandparents could not sleep anymore, there was no peace in their lives, and guilt was not the reason, the pitter patter of little monster feet, directly overhead was!


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