Wednesday, February 19, 2014
I can't talk about one grandfather without talking about the other one. They had the same first name. They are joined in my head the same way most people's parents are joined in theirs'. But this guy. Eh Marone! (Mother of Christ!, in case you haven't been around an Italian person with agita, i.e. an Italian person). How do I describe this guy? All the details I have get clogged in my head like ten people trying to get off the bus at the same time. Mainly he had two gears: loving and disgusted, but below both of those things was the same aggression. He laughed the same way he cried: with energy, focus, drive and will. He was fearless and unapologetic.
You think I can't cry in front of my family? Fuck you.
You think I can't have my mistress come to the house for dinner on New Year's Eve with my wife and my children and my grandchildren? Fuck you.
You think I'm a dumb kid who educated myself on my own dime and shouldn't be in your country-club, or have my own firm, or be president of your bar association? Fuck you.
This was the subtext. Outwardly he was always polite and respectful and generous. He always picked up the check. He was offended if you offered. Come on, come on! He paid for his grandchildren to go to the best schools and he bought new cars for his daughters at Christmas. He loved babies and little kids, and he would sit and talk to them and play and giggle like a child playing with a toy. He'd blow a fart sound on your neck or your belly, he called it a plookey, and then shake with laughter. He'd say "Are you an eee-eee-ahn or an ahn-ahn-eee?" and if you hesitated for a second too long he'd say, "You're a lob" and tickle you until your laughter came out as silence.
He never stopped, this guy. He had the gestures down: the shrug, the sigh, the counting on his fingers. He could look at you like you were the biggest idiot whoever crossed the face of the planet or a beautiful, perfect angel who never did a single wrong thing your whole life. This is was the guy. He got things done. He followed through. He went to work. He was the one you wanted at a party and at a fight. Boom.