Thursday, October 13, 2005

Provolone....The stuff that dreams are made of....

Last night I had a dream about cheese.

Provolone cheese.

I don't know why I had a provolone cheese dream.

It wasn't like it was an erotic provolone cheese fantasy dream.

At least I don't think it was although for some reason I still woke up with....



Never mind.

Is it wrong to think of something your mother said to when you were a kid at this point?

"Put that down, you'll poke your eye out with that thing."

Granted she was talking about the fireplace poker.

(I always wondered why we had a fireplace in San Diego that we never used but still had that stupid shovel, brush and poker hanging next to it. Maybe it's an Italian thing. An Italian mother never knows when she'll need a shovel, a broom or something to knock the sense into you with.)

Anyway, I was dreaming about provolone cheese and when I woke up, I thought I was in Costco, and then I started screaming because they were out of salami.

Then I realized I was still dreaming.

I was dreaming about dreaming.

Which made me think about whether or not reality was a dream and maybe, I was in fact, a 24 year old single wealthy Italian male in tremendous physical shape with a large penis and that I dated seven playboy centerfolds, one for each day of the week and that I drove a Ferrari and lived in a villa north of Milan....and....and....

Never mind.

That's too much work.

So I must have been dreaming about dreaming about dreaming.

I may have been dreaming about cheese because of what I saw earlier in Vons grocery store.

As I was standing in the checkout line the woman in front of me was wrestling with her three kids, all boys, under six or seven years old.

I don't know who the sadistic bastard was that decided that candy was the ideal thing to separate check out lines with but he or she should be beaten to death with a three foot Tootsie Roll.

Hey asshole how about some carrot sticks at the checkout stand??? Maybe an apple or some celery???

NO! Let's put people into a diabetic coma on the way out to their cars!!!

Let's put every kind of candy crap imaginable within arms reach of screaming children. Candy crap and RAZOR BLADES!!!!!

So as I'm watching, one kid would grab a candy, and as mom was putting it back, another one would grab another candy. It was kind of fun to watch actually until I started getting hungry.

Anyway it reminded me of when I committed my first and only crime.

I was six years old.

My parents dragged us to this Italian restaurant in "Little Italy" where you had to walk through the store/deli in the front to get to the restaurant in the back.

After dinner my dad stopped to talk to the owner.

Italians males don't really say that much when we talk to each other. We kind of shrug our shoulders a lot and gesture with our hands while making grunting noises.

This can go on for what seems like an hour when your six years old.

Here's the thing, at six years old my "eye level" was different than my mom and dad's.

At my eye level was cheese.

Lot's and lots of cheese.

Neatly packaged in little triangles wrapped in foil.


The perfect after dinner snack.

Right there for the taking.


We pile the family into the Cadillac and I hunker down behind the seat and crack open my stash.

Even at age six I know I need to share the cheese with my little brothers because one of them would rat me out if they felt cheated.

Especially my middle brother.

He'd squeal in a heart beat.

Rat bastards.

Now any of you that are Italian know that Italian mothers have super powers. One of their super powers is their sense of smell.

My mom was amazing.

She could tell from thirty feet away whether or not I had washed behind my ears just by raising her nose.

I had just taken a bite when my mom says.



My mother turned around to find me with about a dozen opened triangles of cheese.

I couldn't tell you what my mother was saying at that point because when Italian mothers are pissed off they yell so fast it sounds like one big long Italian word.

I didn't cry.


I knew if my mom left punishment up to my dad I was off the hook. My dad never hit me or spanked me. He would pretend to be pissed, take off "the belt" in front of my mom, and then close the door to my room and whack the bed a few times. I'd fake crying loud enough so she could hear and then we'd sit down and talk about it.

We never discussed why he did that. Not once. It was just assumed from the first time it happened that that's the way it was always going to be. He did that with all four of us.

Worse case I'm going to have to share my cheese with my dad.

My mom on the other hand loved to use the "wooden spoon". Which is why, to this day, I'm afraid of trees.

So I figure I was getting the spoon. I could handle the spoon.

Not this time.

My parents drove back to the Italian restaurant and decided I was going to confess to the owner what I had done.

Then I was going to have to pay for the cheese.

I got hysterical.

What if the owner has me whacked?

I was only six.

I didn't have a job yet.

How was I going to pay for this cheese?

My rat bastard brothers offered no help.

I was on my own.

Six years old.

Already a criminal.

Who's gonna hire me now?

My mother dragged me into the restaurant by my shirt collar still yelling that one long word in Italian to me.

I watched my dad whisper something to the owner who started to laugh and then got this real stern look on his face.

Then the owner walked over to me.

The pressure was too much to bear.

I dropped to my knees sobbing, begging for forgiveness.


"Howa u gonna pay for da provolone?"


"Maybe u shoulda wash da dishes?"


"A tell u wat u gonna do. U gonna clean your room when your momma tells u. Capiche? U gonna help u momma and poppa whenever they say, no questions asked. Capiche? U ain't gonna cause no problems. Capiche? When uze get old enough u gonna come here and buy all da cheese I tell u. Capiche?"

"I CAPICHE....Sob."

I remember my parents holding back the laughter on the way to the car.

If you're wondering how I remember a story from when I was six years old it was easy.

My parents told everyone.

All the time.

Until I got married. I actually think they told that story at my wedding.

Sometimes these really are just for me.

So anyway...

I had a dream about cheese.