The refrain "follow me, follow me" has dragged through my head today and I spent time trying to remember where it came from. I used to sing for an ensemble in college that played medieval music. It's the beginning to one of those Old English ballads. Anyway, follow me as I type this entry. I went to a grand opening for an Italian restaurant last night. Trish went through the same program I did to get the small business loan and launch her own venture. It's a spin off from her mother's and she named the place after her grandmother. I think I've watched too many movies about Italian lifestyles! As I sat at the bar I suddenly felt I was in a scene from Goodfellas or A Bronx Tale. I live on Goose Hill, which was built by Italians at the turn of the century. They were the ones who helped develop the railroad and the Alco plant.
There were still a few left when I first moved into my neighborhood, but they have since died, Mrs, Aldi, Mrs. Greno, and Tony (never knew his last name), were all wonderful neighbors. Tony would trade me the peaches off his little tree in his front yard for some Romano tomatoes I had growing in the back yard. But I loved Mrs. Aldi the most. She had a little garden next to mine and we used to exchange what we grew. I'll never forget the time she came outside and tripped and fell down her front steps. Her wig fell off and she lost a shoe. I tried to help her but she said she was all right and ran back into her house tugging the wig over her sparse hairs, very embarrassed, After that, the kids called her Mrs. Baldy and we laughed at her expense, poor thing. Just before she was sent to a nursing home by her grand niece, I came to help her because she phoned to tell me she had fallen off a chair and couldn't get up (Yup, "I've fallen and I can't get up!") I peered into her eyes as I lifted her and I saw death as clearly as I see the lines I am typing at this moment. She smiled and said "you've been a good neighbor." Soon after I visited her in her hospital room and brought her some flowers, which she loved and we said good-bye. That was the last I saw of her. I still miss her.
Anyway, back to the party at the restaurant. I thought there were few Italians left in the neighborhood, but they came out of the woodwork for this event. Men with Romanesque noses and women with hardened, painted faces lined the bar. And they were all throwing mounds of cash out on the bar to impress. I was reminded of the scene in A Bronx Tale where "C" is trying to make his way through a crowd to get to Sonny, who is standing at the bar just before he gets shot. I became a casual on-looker to the scenes playing out as I drank wine and enjoyed the Italian buffet. Trish's cousin asked me if I wanted to get really bad and "go out in the car and kiss." He was old and fat and I was so taken aback that I withdrew and then realizing the ridiculousness of the situation, told an old acquaintance and laughed. She told him he was crazy, Trish's cousin or not. There was a big shot who was buying drinks for everyone at the bar and unlike the mafia movies, a few black men stood in the crowd. One was Trish's boyfriend, a tall man who sported dreadlocks and another was a fantastic singer of Motown, who crooned at the karaoke stand. I drank and ate too much and ended up going home and throwing it all up. Still, it was worth it, if just for an offer to "kiss in the car."
Originally written 2/12