My buddy Frankie got married this past Labour Day weekend. We've known each other since grade three.There we were, all of us boys from the old neighbourhood, under the blazing sun at Fantasy Farm, taking it all in. There was Cono in his fly sunglasses and circa-70s suit. Muscle-bound Claudio with a waist-length braid of hippie hair.
We like to style. It's part of our Italianness, if you will, a skin we acquired growing up as outlanders on downtown immigrant streets.
I suppose it's why I have no appetite for the National Council of Italian Canadians (NCIC) campaign to stop the airing of The Sopranos, the hit HBO series about an Italian-American crime family.
"This kind of reckless indifference toward our community, our culture, our heritage is unacceptable,' says their letter to CTV. "Propagating a myth by negatively stereotyping Italians in such a crude and ruthless manner is an infringement of our honour." Well, maybe.
Sure, no one I know carries a gun or offs people who insult the family. And we don't all make our livings in illegal trade.
Surely no one really believes every Italian is born into a mob connection.
My father's name is Rocco. I wear a rosary around my neck. Is that supposed to mean anything?
Whether we like it or not, there's probably a little of The Sopranos in all us Italo Canucks. Newark, New Jersey, where the series is set, could just as easily be Hamilton or downtown Toronto.
We can recite Shakespeare, talk politics with the best of 'em. From time to time we even engage in the finer pursuits like -- wait for it -- croquet. But now and then, on those sacred occasions when we get down together, we retreat to the lingo we learned on the shhtreet and take on that quintessential attitude that says we'd rather be feared than respected.
Should I do the politically incorrect Italian thing here and tell you what the ladies think of it? Yeah. Real Goumbas in the Rye, we are.
At Frankie's wedding, we raised many a toast to our health, wealth and happiness and sealed each one with a hug and kisses on the cheek.
It was a beautiful thing. And so, to the NCIC I say forget about it -- or is that fegheddaboudit? We are who we are. It is what it is.