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Part of the Jewish Godmother Series
Hola, this is your dear friend, Jose’. When we last met I was telling you about the Mona Lisa Horowitz incident. The Jewish Godmother was enraged that The Italian Godfather overstepped his boundaries by intervening in her business in Brooklyn. She was determined to let him know that she was not going to put up with such disrespect! So we got onto I-278 East and headed to Don Bustamonte’s headquarters, Via Roma Pizzeria on Arthur Avenue. They were known to have the best pizza in The Bronx. The whole time we were driving the Jewish Godmother was wringing her hands in the back of the Lincoln and muttering every insult against Italian Americans she could think of. She was so upset she kept “klapping” me in the back of my head as she criticized my driving. The anticipation of eating a slice of Via Roma pizza was the only thing that kept me from losing my sanity.
When we arrived, the aroma of pizza wafted out to the sidewalk as we approached the front door. Once inside, we heard Frank Sinatra’s song, ‘Fly me to the moon’ playing. The walls were covered with autographed photos of famous Italian Americans like Joe DiMaggio, Robert De Niro and Sylvester Stallone. There were also photos of Rome and of the Pope of course. Each table was covered with a red and white checkered cloth and had a candle and a bottle of Chianti on top of it.
Don Bubbieberger whispered as best as she could, “Jose, I don’t think we’re in Brooklyn anymore.” She then sauntered up to the pizza chef in the front and banged her fist on the counter, “I demand to see Don Bustamonte.” Upon hearing her, the chef was so shocked that he dropped his freshly made pie as he was pulling it from the brick oven; for NO ONE mentions the Godfather’s name in the front of the pizzeria. He answered, “Fuggedaboutit lady, this is a reputable establishment, we don’t talk about those things, you either order a pizza or Va via!” The Godmother started channeling Robert De Niro in taxi driver as she said, “You talkin to me? You talkin’ to me?” The chef answered, “Yeah I’m talkin to you, who are you anyway, where are you from?” The Godmother losing her patience, picked up a jar of hot pepper sauce, and flung it into his face. “I’m Don Bubbieberger from Brooklyn that’s who!” As the pizza chef doubled over in pain and grabbed his eyes, I followed The Godmother as she marched towards the back of the pizzeria. Instinctively she knew where a Don would be doing his business. Even if she didn’t know, our clue was the smell of garlic and Armani cologne that was coming through the door that was marked ‘private.’ She began pounding on the door which caused the walls to shake. As I watched the framed picture of the Pope rattling on the wall next to me, I felt a sense of foreboding. ‘Oy Dios mio’ I said under my breath. I braced myself for what would happen next.
Just then, the door opened and a very large beefy man stood in the threshold. He took one look at the Godmother, and said, “Hey, lady, the restroom is down the hall, can’t you read the sign, it says private!” Suddenly, we heard a booming voice from the back, “Who dares to disturb me during my favorite show, Let’s Make a Deal?“
“Let’s make a deal?” The Godmother said as she pushed her way past the stunned bodyguard. “I’ll tell you what the deal is you Bocce ball playing shnook!” She said to The Godfather, who was sitting at a small table. I noticed his table also had the red and white checkered tablecloth as well as a very large loaf of Italian bread. There was a glass of red wine on the table and an ashtray shaped like a gondola which held a very expensive lit montecristo cigar. Behind us was a flat screen TV playing a rerun episode of Let’s Make a Deal. He then stood up very slowly. My friends, I must tell you, the most impressive thing in the room was Don Bustamonte himself. He was not a very tall man, but the way he held himself made him seem larger than life! As the Godfather looked at The Godmother, he narrowed his eyes and said, “Nobody has spoken this way to me other than my dearest Mamma, may she rest in peace.” The Godmother responded, “I’ll make you REST in PIECES!” She snatched the lit cigar and she started to drive it towards his head!
He gently held her arm, took the cigar from her and said, “Such a bella faccia, what could possibly get you so worked up? I hate to see you so troubled. What can The Godfather do for you?” He started to twist the ring on his pinkie. The Godmother, quite frazzled, said, “Does the name Mona Lisa Horowitz ring a bell? You know the Jewish Italian girl with the cats?” He nodded and answered, “Oh yes, Sophia’s daughter. Sure, no big deal, you don’t have to thank me, I took care of it. You want something to eat? I have some lovely proscuitto to share.” The Godmother grabbed the loaf of bread and threatened to hit The Godfather with it, “I’m not hungry for proscuitto, I’m hungry for vengeance!” I noticed that it was at that moment that the Godfather’s eyes softened and he was struck by what the Italians refer to as Fulmine, the thunderbolt. He was obviously falling in love. “I’ve never met anyone like you, I’m completely captivated by your controlling nature. You’re a woman who knows what she wants and will do anything to get it! I admire those qualities because I have them as well. Who are you?” She replied, “I am Don Bubbieberger and I run all of Brooklyn and Mona Lisa Horowitz is mine!” He answered, “Fine, you can have her, as long as I can have you!” My friends, I couldn’t believe it, but the Godfather took the Godmother’s hand, started kissing it and the loaf of Italian bread fell to the ground. My mouth hung open, for no one would have predicted this outcome!
And so the plot thickens. Is there romance in the air? You will know next time we meet. Until then, this is Jose Flores de Las Gutierrez Perez de Fernandez de Leon de Jesus.
Yiddish and Italian glossary:
Va via: go away
Schnook: a pitifully meek person
Bella facia: beautiful face
Not meant to be offensive… just amusing! People are just downright funny when you think about it! Laugh at yourself first and it will change your perspective. We are all unique and have personal experiences and upbringings that have shaped us into the people we have become. But one thing that ties us together is the ability to laugh at our foibles. We love people and we find humor in every day situations. Try it. Your quality of life will improve!
One day my friend and I were having lunch at a small bistro in town. After eating, we decided to try out the newest nail salon which was all the rave. We heard that it was pristine and the owner runs a professional, “tight” ship.
Upon entering the salon, we noticed that the place was completely white, as if it was really meant to be a hospital. All of the instruments were sealed in plastic and when unwrapped were placed in a tray under a UV sterilizer. All the Nail techs wore white spotless uniforms and their hair was pulled back tightly in buns. The male techs also wore white and had very short cropped hair. As we passed through the door my friend grazed the edge the door jam and scratched her arm. It seemed like a superficial scratch and it didn’t even hurt her, so we continued towards the reception desk. The young Asian woman greeted us with a forced smile and in a very thick Korean accent said intimidatingly, “You have appointment?” to which I replied with trepidation, “No, um, no we don’t, but we both want pedicures.” With agitation and reluctance, she motioned for us to go back to the pedicure chairs and she said, “Number 4, number 5.” We dutifully proceeded to sit down in chairs 4 and 5. The water was soothing and we just started to relax when my friend’s nail technician said something under her breath in Korean to my nail technician. They spoke so quietly yet they seemed to understand each other. Then both of them glared at my friend’s arm, and that’s when we noticed that she was bleeding profusely. She must have hurt it worse than we originally thought because they quickly shot up and got paper towels. They gave them to my friend saying quite hysterically, in their thick accents, “You bleeding, put pressure on arm, you make mess in here! No bleeding on floor!” Their accents were so thick, that at first we thought they were saying she was breeding! My friend, quite shaken from all the antics, frantically put pressure on her wound as the technicians kept shouting at her. After what seemed like an eternity, the bleeding stopped. They quickly took away the bloody paper towels and things seemed to settle down. The pedicures continued and we began to relax again. We turned on the massage feature in the chairs and they brought water with lemon for both of us. It was lovely, we were in heaven until my friend’s nail tech clipped her toenail too close to the skin and once again she started to bleed! This time from her toe! That’s when all hell broke loose in the cleanest nail salon in entire universe. All the nail techs in the place jumped up and ran over. My nail tech angrily asked my friend, “Are you homopheliac? Are you?” I think she meant hemophiliac, but at this point I wasn’t going to correct her. My friend quite shakily answered as her tub water started to turn red, “No, no I’m not, you cut me with the clippers.” Now the entire staff became involved in bringing over paper towels. Patrons were leaving their stations to see what the ruckus was all about. It became very embarrassing but it was about to get much worse!
Oh boy! Did it get worse!
Just then, everyone’s attention was drawn to the back of the salon as the door to the waxing room flew open, and out came the salon owner, and I swear he was the spitting image of Kim Jong Un. No kidding, for a hot second we actually thought it was him! He had the same haircut as the North Korean dictator and upon further inspection, we noticed that he was also wearing the same ill fitting poorly tailored black pinstriped suit that the dictator is often pictured wearing. He even had it buttoned all the way up to his neck! He stood motionless for a few seconds and he was holding a wooden stick covered with hot dripping wax. The entire place fell silent. For a moment, I thought he was going to cauterize my friend’s cut, or worse: torture us with the hot wax. But, when he finally spoke he said quite loudly and in the thickest accent I have ever heard in my life, “YOU BLEEDING, YOU LEAVE SALON NOW!” He was brandishing the hot wax stick through the air as if it were a weapon, and wax was flying everywhere. He continued, “NO BLEEDING HERE, THIS NOT HOSPITAL! YOU CANNOT STAY HERE, YOU BE HERE TOO LONG, YOU BLEED IN SALON, LEAVE NOW! YOU CAN’T GET SPARKLE FOR 5 DOLLA MORE!” We were completely freaked out, it was way too much for 2 middle aged Jewish woman to handle. We got up with wet feet, (in my friend’s case it was bloody wet feet) and ran as fast as we could out the door as we heard him scream one last time, “YOU BLEED TOO MUCH, THAT WHY YOU GOT NO BOYFRIEND!”
Lying here, I am filled with a sense of dread,
For night is coming and I feel like the Walking Dead.
Anxiously sweating and thrashing about,
I can’t remember whether I let the cat in or out.
I am astonished by my “foggy” brain,
Remembering even the smallest things seems to be a strain.
I use the restroom several times a night,
As I see a glimpse of myself in the mirror, I catch a fright!
For it looks as though from the crypt I rose,
Or like a haunted creature chock full of woes.
I wake up in the morning haggard and without rest,
Menopause sure does stink,
To that I can attest!
In response to Sadje’s Keep it Alive prompt #4
In the deepest part of Brooklyn there lies a force to be reckoned with. It instills fear in the hearts of every man woman and child, even undomesticated pets. Don’t be fooled by her innocent grandmother-like exterior…she is a bubbie like no other, for inside there beats a heart that is as hard as an undercooked matzah ball. With blood colder than Brighton Beach in January, she’s The Jewish Godmother, and she runs Brooklyn with an iron fist. Her name was Don Bubbieberger. What? Do you doubt me? Well sit back and listen, I was there, I used to work for her at her base of operations, the “Oy Va Voy Deli.” A nondescript deli on a nondescript street in the heart of Flatbush. My name is Jose Flores de la Guiterrez Perez de Fernandez de Leon De Jesus.
If you look past the deli counter in the front, you will see a trifold screen from Chinatown behind which she sits. On a Manichewitz-stained fourtop with a few mahjong tiles tucked under one of the unbalanced legs, she runs her empire. This was her ‘office.” Such things I heard and saw there…let me tell you about a memorable day a few Chanukahs ago.
A grandmother entered the deli with her grandson who stopped at the counter to order a bagel with a shmear. She had an appointment with Don Bubbieberger.
The Godmother’s daughter, Francine, who was her gatekeeper said: “Ma, you’re 2:30 is here, its Gertie Gershewitz who just recovered from hip surgery at Mt. Sinai.”
The Godmother greeted Gertie with “How’s the new hip?”
Gertie replied in the typical Jewish manner: “Don’t get me started! I think the Doctor left an extra screw in there! I nearly died! You shouldn’t know from the pain! But I’m not here for the hip. Its about my grandson Yankel.”
So her daughter Francine exclaimed, “The one in Law School? A full scholarship at Columbia? You must get such nachas from him!”
“How is he doing with his studies?” asked the Godmother adjusting her silver wig.
Gertie replied pushing aside her bagel, “Not good Godmother, that’s the problem, he’s not studying. He found a summer job and now he doesn’t want to be a lawyer! He’s not going back to law school in the fall.”
There was a collective “OY!” that resonated throughout the deli and the Godmother responded clutching her chest, “My heart just stopped for a second!”
Francine then handed her mom some pastrami to calm her.
Gertie continued, “I know it’s terrible. His mother is back at her apartment sitting shiva!”
Francine asked, “So what is this summer job?”
Gertie whispered audibly, “A male stripper.”
The shocking news caused The Godmother to spit out the pastrami, which sailed over the top of the screen from Chinatown. Wiping her mouth she calmly said: “Gertie send him in, I can adjust his attitude, I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse.” (stroking the side of cheek with back of her hand )
Gertie shouted: “Yankel, get in here!”
Yankel sulked in and said, “Bubbie, I told you its not Yankel anymore, its Jake.”
Gertie shouted “Jake, shmake, this is a name for a boy in law school?”
Jake answered, “It’s my stage name.”
Godmother then said to Gertie, “Give us a moment, Help ya’self to some fresh rugelach at the counter.”
At this point, Godmother turned to me and said, “Jose, we need to make a mood here, turn off the lights and turn up the music. Ok Jake, show us what ya got!” So I put on the Godmother’s favorite, Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots are Made for Walking.”
So he danced in front of us, the shirt came off, the shorts came off and he was down to his Spiderman undies and socks. He danced so horribly, and as Francine put a pity dollar in his underwear the Godmother shouted, “Jose, cut the music!” She turned to Jake and said, “So Jakela, do you remember your circumcision?”
Yankel then replied, “Godmother, how can I remember, I was 8 days old.”
Godmother then did something that most bubbies would deem unthinkable, she grabbed his family jewels and held onto them with her Jewish GI Joe Kung Fu grip and said, “Allow me to refresh your memory!”
“Now listen to me very carefully, your future is in my hands, I am only going to tell you one time, your grandfather was a lawyer, your father is a lawyer and Judge Judy is your second cousin once removed! You’re gonna go back to Law School! And let’s hope you are a better lawyer than you are a stripper!” As she released her grip, she said, “Francine, give him an ice pack for the road!”
Yankel cried out, “Godmother it hurts…” he kissed her ring and picked up his clothes and backed away and Francine handed him a frozen loaf of gefilte fish.
The Godmother channeling her grandmotherly instincts, then gave her final directions to Yankel: “Apply it to the inflamed area 3 times a day, 10 minutes on, 10 minutes off and it will be good as new!”
Yankel answered as he stumbled away, “Thank you Godmother, you sure know how to ‘handle’ things!”
And that, my friends was just the beginning, there will be more to follow…..