“Listen here, you fock! If you don’t pay me the money today, I’m gonna give your horse head!” “Joey! Give your horse head? What’s wrong with you? You cut off the horse’s head, Joey. You cut the fuckin’ head. You don’t give the horse head. You’re not going to suck his fuckin’ cotzo, you prick!” “I’m sorry, Vinny, I’m sorry. Jesus. You don’t have to cut off my fuckin’ head about it.” “Yes, Joey, I do! I do have to cut off your fuckin’ head about it or you might try to suck my fuckin’ dick, ok?” Oh, Italians. So easy to stereotype.
I would say, without actually being an Italian, I know them pretty well. I used to manage a cafe in the Little Italy section of downtown San Diego. A neighborhood where Italian fisherman and their families set up a community around 1906 to escape the earthquakes of San Francisco and to fish tuna from the plentiful Pacific ocean. It was this time that I discovered that Italians were pretty diverse. Of course there were guidos around, but not all Italians are guidos. Take my friend Salvatore. He despised this stereotype. He especially thought The Sopranos were the worst at perpetuating this myth. “That show has single-handedly shamed my entire race. A curse on all of them.” When The Sopranos became the topic of one of the many group conversations at the cafe, Sal would turn redder than his mama’s bolognese, let me tell you! He would get hotter than his uncle’s pizza oven, forget about it! Salvatore would get so upset that the clams in his linguine vongole would reattach to their shells! It was fuckin’ unbelievable! But, most of the time, that pizano was sweeter than a tiramisu stuffed canoli! What a fuckin’ guy! Your welcome, Sal.
A slight diversion. Let’s spend a few moment with my boss “Big Steve.” He was 6’7″ and liked to spike his hair up to add a couple of extra inches like some Jersey Shore godfather. AKA, The Italian Lurch. A slight mix of both Italian and Boston accents, he was mostly considered to be a heartless bastard. At least among the staff. For me, the first few months were difficult because he would get under my skin something terribly. Until one day I said this: “Hey! I heard you, already! It’s impossible not to hear you! I can hear you in my fuckin’ dreams! I could be standing on the banks of The Congo and still probably hear you! Take it easy! I promise I will do the inventory before I leave!” He looked at me like he was going to kill me. I immediately regretted it and was sure he was going to fire me. “Ok, ok. Don’t have a heart attack. It’s good to see you care.” And with that, he smiled and left. It immediately dawned on me that Italians not only like to yell, but they love it when you yell back. “I knew you hada some balls! I wasa starting to doubt you, but you’re one of us now! Hey, everybody! Looka over here at the big man of the house! This fuckin’ guy. Nowa get outta here, you!” I ended up loving that guy. An extremely driven individual whom I will always have a great respect for. Salute, Big Steve. You big fuckin’ Lurch.
But, wait a minute. In the vast landscape of Italian role models, Big Steve doesn’t really count. We need world-renowned Italians. Someone a proud Italian father can point to, and then say to his young son, “See that fuckin’ guy over there? That’s someone that makes our Italian heritage very proud. Italians are the best, son. Don’t you forget it” But who…
For me, the first Italian I thought was cool was Chachi Arcola. Every day after school I would watch Happy Days and, I guess, he could have been a role model to other boys my age who were Italian. Some say Fonzi, but Henry Winkler doesn’t count because his parents were Germanic Jews that migrated over to the states. “Luckily for my dad, my mother saved him from the Nazis when she found out he was trying to put himself in the oven. Eehhhh.” So, Scott Baio was it. Though he was a watered down version of a machismo Italian man. Or was he. “I’m sorry, Joni. I know you love the Chachi, but I have this strange feeling I have to go somewhere and do “The Thing.” You know, “The Thing.” “What are you talking about? What thing?” “I have no fuckin’ idea what it is, but I have to go do it. I’m Italian!” Let’s face it, Scott Baio became Charles In Charge, and no self-respecting Italian could be a “Charles.” So, we put Chuck in the bathroom…
Sylvester Stallone is Italian! He was Rocky! He was Rambo! He likes to fight and shoot bugs dead and sleeps with crazy tall women and, maybe this isn’t a good example. Fuck it, put Sly in the bathroom!
What about this guy. This is Silvio Berlusconi. Former Prime Minister of Italy and all around Italian role model, right? Wow, Silvio. I had heard about you sneaking women around in the dark Roma nights, but holy fuck! After a little research, every possible scandalous Italian stereotype has you as a major character! “Let’s see. I am a corrupt politician who has ties with The Cosa Nostra. I pay prostitutes for a reverse cowboy because I don’t like them looking at my face! All my phones are tapped and I’m being filmed at every moment of my waking existence. I guess you could sum it up like this: I’m a fuckin’ celebrity! There is no Italian more Italian than me! Go ahead, cut my arm open! See?!? It’s a combination of marinara and the disappointment of every woman in Italy! I’m the Italian Godfather! To the Italian people, that is a very religious, sacred, close relationship. Now if you excuse me, I have to go to the tanning salon. GTL, baby!”