It was a dateless week. I actually thought about Moshe. Maybe I shouldn’t have dumped him, at least until Replacement Guy was lined up. Oh well. I guess that’s why there are 163 channels on Verizon FIOS. And there’s always Scrabble with Scary Fairy.
I did go home to Philly this week, to visit the Italians. While speaking to a local acquaintance from the JCC on the Palisades, I mentioned this fact. “You went to Philadelphia? Alone?” she asked awed. She made it sound like I had trekked through Tibet sans sherpa and lived to tell the tale. “Yeah” I told her. “I have a special Philly passport that gets me into Center City. And then I speak Philadelphian while I’m there. I say “Yo!” a lot, and ‘I seriously scieve her’. You know, that kind of addytude while I’m snarfing a cheese steak wit on the payment*.” Silence on the other end. “Aren’t you afraid?” Ilana asked. “Of what?” I replied genuinely perplexed. “Of the people” she answered. I sighed. “Only of women with really big hair and lots of black eyeliner who went to St. Maria Goretti. Former Goretti girls are really scievy; they’re all sluts.” ‘Scieve’ can be a verb or an adjective. And everyone knows Little Flower alumnae are the standard by which Catholic womanhood is measured. I guess it didn’t work in my case.
It is a fact that the University of Pennsylvania has an entire department devoted to studying ‘Philly-speak’. *Translation: I have ‘attitude’, a great deal of it, in fact. One does not ‘eat’ a cheese steak; one ‘snarfs’ and lets the ooey grease drip on one’s chin. ‘Wit’ refers to having huge quantities of fried onions on one’s cheese steak; ordering ‘a cheese steak, buddy’ will get ya one wit no onions. And one stands on the ‘pavement’ to eat it. In most places, it’s the sidewalk. ‘Scieve’ is one of my favorite words. It means abhor, detest, hate, loathe. Scary insists scieve is not a real word and will not let me use it in Scrabble. I show her some addytude by using Yiddish words that have crossed over into the popular lexicon.
The warm and friendly Italians were delighted to see me again. I took my number from the box with the instructions written in Italian. Interesting. I’m #4 on line; there isn’t a bloody soul there besides me. After only about two hours of watching the staff stand around and drink coffee while gossiping, the clerk calls my number – in Italian. I almost missed it; I was thinking about something else. I went to the window and carefully expended all my Italian saying ‘Good morning’, ‘how are you’ and ‘I am here about my citizenship’, which I had practiced for the occasion. He let loose with a volley of Italian, and I had to confess “Sorry. I don’t actually speak Italian.” What a coincidence! He didn’t seem to speak English. He told me to wait. I understood that; gee, those Italian CDs or hearing my mother yell ‘will you wait a minute’ in Italian frequently in my childhood kicked in.
Eventually, after the staff had a two-hour lunch and a siesta (tiny exaggeration) the Big Ricotta herself came out and spoke to me. Maddone! It’s all good. My paperwork is going to Rome … soon. Like in two weeks. I wanted to ask what determined that arbitrary time frame, but didn’t. I contented myself with licking her shoes (really, really nice Italian leather). We discussed where my application will sightsee whilst vacationing in Rome (will it have an audience with His Popiness? And throw some lira in the Trevi Fountain?) before heading south to Colli Al Volturno, my town, to be registered in the Really Large Book of Famous Italians? Signora did assure me that everything is going forward (too bad it’s in ‘Italian Time’) and my target of the end of the year is going to happen. One really great thing is that I now have an application number. I felt really good being officially registered by a government that doesn’t want huge amounts of income tax from me or to lock me up with seventeen Arabs in a holding cell at Heathrow for hours and hours. I vowed then and there to try and not piss the Italians off. I told Aurora that I would check back in a couple weeks, mumbling under my breath that if she answered the fucking phone, or her emails, I wouldn’t actually have to come to the Consulate in person.
I am very fortunate. A new friend, Gregory, with whom I have been corresponding, is having real problems filing his application. No, I didn’t meet him on JDate. But speaking of JDate, my latest suitor is an Elvis Presley impersonator. I am totally serious. He sent me some pictures. “Sorry, Scary darling. I can’t play Scrabble tonight. I have a date with Elvis Guy. It’s now or never!” I couldn’t help wondering if the pompadour and sideburns were real. Of course, there’s no way in hell I’m going out with someone wearing a sequined jumpsuit and a cape. Another suave Jersey guy (I swear it’s the water – or the tomatoes) wrote “You know what would look great on you? Me!” Sorry, Sweetie. These Cache jeans cost $250. Do you think I’d let you slobber on them?
Back to Gregory, Italiamerica, the company who helped me with my paperwork, asked if they could list me as a reference. They were fantastic and, of course, I said sure. Gregory emailed me for a reference, and we exchanged stories. He could file in either Miami or New York. Miami isn’t accepting applications ‘until further notice’ and New York is accepting appointments for June 2008. Just for information, San Francisco has a two year turn around time. Viva Philadelphia! So Gregory and I keep in touch with progress reports on our respective citizenship applications. Mine is looking pretty good at the moment.
I have a date this week. South Jersey Guy assures me he never eats tomatoes, is not married to his first cousin, and doesn’t even know any of the exits on the Garden State by heart. In fact, when he asked me where Clifton is, yeah, I’m afraid it popped right out. “Exit 154 on the Garden State.” I am worried now that I am saying ‘chaw-co-late’ and ‘caw-fee’ and not even noticing. I mentioned Joe Torre and the Yankees in a conversation the other day. I have been here too fucking long.