Mr. Mafia
by Michele Christopher

Last night’s movie post in which Turtle uses The Godfather to make fun of write about my Italian heritage brought to mind a story. I figure if he’s gonna go all stereotype on me, I might as well run with it.

When I started in a new school in 9th grade, there was this rumor going around that my father was in the Mafia. There was some suspicious math involved here, I think. My last name + Dad’s Lincoln Continental + his construction business = Mafia. Cement, you know. Cement shoes. Plus, dad just kind of looked the part. He didn’t wear fedoras or anything like that, he just looked.....Italian. Like I said, the math here was suspect. But kids love a good rumor.

I didn't deny. I didn't confirm. I didn't embellish or anything, I just didn't deny. I'd raise my eyebrows when someone came out an asked, "Hey, is your dad a hitman?" Whistle Walk away. It was too much fun to have people think that my dad could order a hit on them if they ever got on my wrong side.

This went on most of the school year and I did nothing to put a stop to it. A few of my friends who knew the real deal started making up these larger than life stories about my dad's escapades in the Mafia. The stories got wilder as the year went on. The stories were all ripped right out of The Godfather or movies like it. Death. Vengeance. Car bombs. People sleeping with the fish. It was a bit cool in that everyone wanted to be my friend. Or just not make me an enemy. I admit it, I was having way too much fun with it.

Things started to get crazy when my mother found out. I got a lecture. She doesn't like being associated with the Mafia. She thinks it makes our family look ugly and vulgar. I tell her it's just a story between friends. Yea, just my friends, mom. Just a few people. No one else believes it. Their parents don't believe it. The principal doesn't believe it....

'The principal?' This freaks mom out. I listen to her drone on about appearances and all and I start to drift off the way I always do when she's lecturing me and I'm vaguely aware that she wants me to put a stop to the Mafia rumors. Don't do this mom. Don't read me a riot act at 3 in the afternoon, because that time means I just got off the bus and I probably smoked a joint on the way home and I can't really focus on your words, but that cobalt blue eye shadow you are wearing is way funky, man. She drones. I reach back and poke my brain a bit to see if I can figure out what she just said and all I get is: 'What will the neighbors think?'

Oh Jesus, mom. Neighbors? The ones who aren't drunks are our relatives. Who cares? Mom does, apparently. I'm told to end the rumors. Ok. I'll try.

The next day I start.

'You know, just so you know, dad isn't really in the Mafia.' People remind me of stories I didn't deny.godf.jpg Like the one about having to scrub blood and bits of flesh out of the trunk of the Lincoln one Saturday and how I did such a good job that some guy named Uncle Carmine gave me twenty dollars and let me see his gun. And by gun, I mean...gun.

Someone asks if my dad killed someone last night and I'm covering for him. Yea, this is going well. It goes like that all day. No matter who I try to confess to, they laugh and say 'Yea, right. Whatever.' No one believes me. My father has become The Godfather, or at least sidekick to a godfather who makes cement shoes for a living. And honestly, I was getting tired of it. I had this whole web of Mafia lies going on and I couldn’t keep track of who my father supposedly killed or was going to kill or was going to be killed by. My friends kinda went crazy with the stories and I was getting tired of backing them up. Who the fuck is Gino Valentine and why would he want to hide a gun in my locker? I swear to you, they made up the most inane shit ever, and some people still hung on those words as if they couldn’t possibly be anything but true.

I come up with a plan. I'll invite a bunch of people over to my house after school. We'll hang, watch tv, eat some chips and everyone will see this is a nice, normal, family and we do nice, normal non-Mafia things like watch the news and play Yahtzee! They'll realize the whole thing was a joke. Yea, that's the ticket. That will work. I tell my father my plan. He doesn't really care about the Mafia stuff. He thinks it's a big joke and that mom has no sense of humor. But we know we have to humor her and put to rest to this Mafia thing, so I ask dad to please explain to my friends that he is a law-abiding citizen. Then they will believe it. If my dad actually tells them it's all bullshit, they'll stop believing it. They'll be disappointed, but oh well. And really, I think most of these guys know it's all a joke anyhow. They just want to believe that they know someone in the Mafia.

Dad says of course he'll help me out. He'll be glad to help put an end to the rumors. He pats me on the head. I figure he's proud of me for finally doing something my mom asked me to do.

Plan in action. We meet at 7-11. I buy soda and chips, and we walk back to my house, about ten of us. I feel good about this. I'm kinda sick of the horse's head jokes and bodies in the trunk innuendos.

We get to my house, and we’re ready for chips and soda and the 4:00 movie. It's Vincent Price week. They don't know that I've brought them here under a false pretense.

gfhat.jpgThe door is locked. Odd. I ring my own doorbell.

My father answers the door.

He's wearing a pinstripe suit and fedora.

I stare. He looks like a cross between Al Pacino and Al from Happy Days. My friends gape at first, then start laughing. My father says in this affected accent that's half Brooklyn and half caricature, "I can't stay. Gotta go make some cement...,' wink, wink...'If ya know what I mean.'

Everyone stares. Wide eyes and slack jaws. Dad grabs his car keys off the counter, puts a scowl on his face and says "I catch anyone drinking anything but soda in this house, I take ya for a ride, capisce?" He struts out of the house, obviously confusing John Travolta with Al Pacino.

teeth.jpg'Wow. Dad. That was...shit. That was fucked up, dad. You totally fucked me up there, dad. Now what are they gonna think? Man, mom's gonna be pissed.

But everyone's laughing. Even my mother.

"That was the worst Mafia impression ever!'
'Yea, that was so LAME!

The movie is starting. Everyone heads into the den, the Mafia bit forgotten already. Short attention spans.

I grab a handful of chips and lose myself in “The Bat.”

The Mafia era is over. I start wondering if I can convince people that my mother is really a vampire.


ii always knew she was in the mafia

too much cement and lye around her house. plus her car smells like a rendering plant


Shovels and baseball bats in the trunk ... hmm.


hahaha i love your dad!


This MUST, I repeat, MUST be saved for posterity!

Another Michelle classic.


For a long time there were rumors in my neighborhood that my next-door neighbor was in the mafia. He was a big, macho Italian-American guy who owned some phony-sounding business (I forget what it was). He even had a speedboat that he called "The Dago Dragster" (No kidding--the name was painted on the back).

But then I saw Donnie Brasco and I knew it couldn't be true. You see, he had...a mustache! So much for that rumor.


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