I believe in the Italian way of life. I believe in Uncle Paulie’s with pinky rings– in Fat Tony’s with double chins and see-through socks, in homemade, never store-bought, Italian gravy. Yes, I believe in mamma mia’s and spicy meatballs and even, perhaps, Mascarpone over sour cream. I believe in hard work, determination, and the beauties of living life in America, of being free.
And I believe in being proud of the sometimes ridiculous stereotypes– of the claims to the ever so dangerous Costra Nostra, the heinous sins of stealing people’s lives for a few thousand dollars in tomorrow’s bank account. I believe in letting the neighbors know that you pose no threat to their survival and reassuring them you don’t carry a gun alongside your lipstick case. I believe in laughing about the bad and sticking up for the good.
I believe in growing up in the Italian culture, in places like Brooklyn or Queens where people hang out their clothes to dry on skinny pieces of twine stretched from one apartment complex to the other. I believe in being a Yankee, in wearing pinstripe blues and thinking Joe DiMaggio as being the best baseball player who ever lived. I believe in catching all the fly balls that aren’t always homeruns. I believe in falling down, in getting dirty, in getting back up and dusting yourself off. I believe in being an optimist even when life is bad.
I believe in God, in many ways to come to know Him, but only one way to reach Him. I believe that even the most loathsome excuses for human beings will not cave in the church ceiling upon arriving. I believe in honoring the Italian tradition of Sunday dinners, medium-rare racks of lamb, and drinking real wine instead of grape juice.
I believe in espresso drinking, cigarette smoking, and Fila jumpsuit-wearing Italian soldato’s– men who believe in honor, loyalty, and ambition. I believe in red-checkered table cloths, in big-mouthed hotdog vendors, in locally owned delicatessens, in thick eyebrows accompanied by thick accents.
I believe no one has everything and that everyone is looking for something. I believe in love, in life, and in that constant pursuit of what it means to be happy. I believe in having things beyond common necessity, in living without guilt of having. I believe in the Italian way of life because life is good and is always better with pepperoni.