Time to put your Santa Stories up on the podcasts. Please send yours to firstname.lastname@example.org . This one is called “An Italian Christmas” It was sent by Proud Podcast Participant– Bill Ervolino
“I thought it would be a nice idea to bring a date to my parent’s house on Christmas Eve. I also thought it would be interesting for a non-Italian girl to see how an Italian family spends the holidays. I thought my mother and my date would hit if off like partridges and pear trees. So I was wrong. Sue me. I had only known Karen for three weeks when I extended the invitation. “I know these family things can be a little weird,” I told her, “but my folks are great, and we always have a lot of fun on Christmas Eve. “ “Sounds fine to me,” Karen says.
I had only known my mother for 31 years when I told her I’d be bringing Karen home with me. “She’s a very nice girl and she’s really looking forward to meeting all of you.” “Sounds fine to me,” my mother says. And that was that. Two telephone calls. Two sounds fine to me-s. What more could I want?
I should point out that in Italian households, Christmas Eve is the social event of the season – an Italian woman’s reason d’etre. She cleans, she cooks, she bakes, she orchestrates every minute of the night. I should also point out that when it comes to the kind of women that make Italian men go nuts, Karen is it. She doesn’t clean. She doesn’t cook. She doesn’t bake. And she has the largest breasts I have ever seen on a human being. I brought her any way.
7 P.M. We arrive. Karen and I walk in and putter around for half an hour waiting for the other guests to show up. During that half hour, my mother grills Karen like a cheeseburger and cannily determines that Karen does not clean, cook, or bake. My father is equally as observant. He pulls me into the living room and notes, “She has the largest breasts I have ever seen on a human being.”
7:30 P.M. Others arrive. Uncle Ziti walks in with my Aunt Mafalde, assorted kids, assorted gifts. We sit around the dining room table for antipasto, a symmetrically composed platter of lettuce, roasted peppers, black olives, salami, prosciutto, provolone, and anchovies. When I offer to make Karen’s plate she says, “Thank you, but none of those things, ok?” She point to the anchovies. “You don’t like anchovies?” I ask. “I don’t like fish,” Karen announces, as 67 other varieties of fish are baking, broiling and simmering in the next room.
My mother makes the sign of the cross and things are getting uncomfortable. Aunt Mafalde asks Karen what her family eats on Christmas Eve. Karen says, “Knockwurst.” My father who is still staring in a daze at Karen’s chest temporarily snaps out of it to murmur, “Knockers?” My mother kicks him so hard he gets a blood clot. None of this is turning out the way I hoped.
8:00 P.M. Second course. The spaghetti and crab sauce is on the way to the table. Karen declines the crab sauce and says she’ll make her own with butter and ketchup. My mother asks me to join her in the kitchen. I take my Merry Christmas napkin from my lap, place it on the Merry Christmas tablecloth and walk into the kitchen. “I don’t want to start any trouble,” my mother says calmly, clutching a bottle of ketchup in her hands. “But if she pours this on my pasta, I’m going to throw acid in her face.” “Come on,” I tell her. “It’s Christmas. Let her eat what she wants.” My mother considers the situation, and then nods.
As I turn to walk back into the dining room, my mother grabs my shoulder. “Tell me the truth,” she says, “are you serious with this tramp?” “She’s not a tramp,” I reply. “And I’ve only known her for three weeks.” “We’ll it’s your life,” she tells me,”But if you marry her, she’ll poison you.”
8:30 P.M. More fish. My stomach is knotted like one of those macramé plant hangers that are always three times larger than the plants they hold. All the women get up to clear away the spaghetti dishes, except for Karen, who instead lights a cigarette. “Why don’t you give them a little hand”? I politely suggest. Karen makes a face and walks into the kitchen carrying three forks. “Dear, you don’t have to do that,” my mother tells her, smiling painfully. “Oh, ok,” Karen says, putting the forks on the sink.
As she re-enters the dining room, a wine glass flies over her head, and smashes against the wall. From the kitchen my mother says, “whoops.” I vaguely remember that line form Torch Song Trilogy. “Whoops?” No. “Whoops is when you fall down an elevator shaft.” More fish comes out. After some goading, Karen tries a piece of scungilli, which she describes as, “slimy, like worms,” My mother winces, bite her hand and pounds her chest like one of those old women you always see in the sixth row of a funeral home. Aunt Mafalde does the same. Karen, believing that this is something that all Italian women do on Christmas Eve, bites her hand and pounds her chest. My Uncle Ziti winces, and my Father’s teeth fall out and chew a six inch gash in the table cloth.
10:00 P.M. Coffee, dessert. Espresso all around. A little anisette. A curl of lemon peel. When Karen asks for milk, my mother finally slaps her on the face with cannoli. I guess it had to happen sooner or later. Karen, believing that this is something that all Italian women do on Christmas Eve, picks up cannoli and slaps my mother with it. “This is fun,” Karen says.
Fun? No, fun is when you fall down an elevator shaft. But amazingly, everyone is laughing and smiling, and filled with good cheer – even my mother, who grabs me by the shoulder, laughs and says, “Get that bitch out of my house.”
Sounds fine to me.