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Chapter Seventeen – “Italian Men Are Turkeys”
The next day was Thanksgiving, and we were all heading to Long Island. My grandfather and Roberto’s late grandfather were brothers. And we’d be celebrating the most American of holidays with my grandfather, his children (my mom’s brothers and their wives), and grandchildren (my cousins). Some of them would be meeting Roberto for the first time; all of them would be meeting Tony – who had locked lips with me the day before – for the first time. As everyone was getting ready to leave, Tony came into my room for another kiss. He held my hand as we sat on the floor and took in the Thanksgiving Day parade, which was also new to Tony.
As Snoopy floated past Macy’s Herald Square, Tony squeezed my hand and said, “I think I’m going to like Thanksgiving.” Indeed, he did. Roberto and he devoured antipasto, marinated vegetables, lasagna, sausage and peppers, stuffing, salad, and of course turkey. Their Italian palette failed to appreciate sweet potatoes or cranberry sauce, but they were keen on meat and gravy.
We took photos of all us cousins with Roberto and Tony as we introduced them to the American foods on my uncle’s harvest table. There was a lot of laughter. Addy, my sister’s all-American friend, who was joining us was getting some attention from the young men in the room. But Roberto still seemed to have eyes for her. He rarely left her side during the festivities, even though he did play a round of cards with my grandfather (his great uncle), and smoked some cigars with the others in the backyard.
Carrying a shot of grappa in his hand, he returned inside to Addy. He was whispering something in her ear, which made me nervous. After all, Roberto had a steady girlfriend, Lisa, back in Ischia. Sure, they had a fight, but they were not broken up. And this seemed like a bomb waiting to go off on his relationship. It got me wondering what Tony would do, if we were to pursue this kiss into full-fledged coupledom. We couldn’t possibly be together all the time; my life was in the United States and his was in Italy, so would I be able to trust him? Roberto was a stand-up guy, who I never thought of as being a two-timer. Were the stereotypes about Italian men true? Do they all cheat?
Moments later, my sister pulled me aside and told me that Roberto tried to kiss Addy last night. Addy, knowing all about his girlfriend, pulled back and sent him to his room to go to bed. She did the same in the living room’s pullout couch. Still, he was trying to convince her to finish that kiss. When my sister questioned Roberto, he said that he and Lisa had flirted with other people before, and that since she was back in Italy she would never find out. They were young, and their relationship was still experimental. They hadn’t really committed yet. In other words, he added, no one was getting married just yet. My sister and I both felt disappointment in our cousin – and men everywhere. “Italian men are obviously turkeys,” my sister said to me. “Obviously turkeys.” I glanced at Tony and wondered if she was right.
My faith in Italian men lifted a bit later in the day when Tony brought me a slice of the apple pie he watched me make from scratch the night before. Even though he hates cinnamon, he brought a big slice for himself, too. That’s when I taught him the wonders of a la mode, and he squeezed my hand under the table (so my cousins, who were sitting next to me, wouldn’t see us) and said, “You did an amazing job. I don’t like cinnamon, but I love your apple pie.”
Some names and identifying characteristics of the real people involved have been changed.
Tune into this Web site, Two Worlds, every Monday for the latest installment in my blog about my experiences in Ischia, and every other Monday to ItaliansRus.com for the latest Our Paesani column about all things Italian. Di Meglio is also the Guide to Newlyweds for About.com.