All posts for the month January, 2008


Published January 28, 2008 by jean cohen

Everyone is emailing to ask why I haven’t blogged lately.  I’ve been rather distracted.


I should probably stop thinking so much … and worrying.  I had a nightmare about Passport Control at Undisclosed Location, Europe.  And I get even more confused when I’ve been up all night on a plane.


Drop Dead Gorgeous Immigration Guy:  (Hey, it’s my fantasy and it’s sure as hell NOT Heathrow):  “Bon jour!  Ah!  Italiano!  Come sta?”


Tired and Confused Jeano:  “Yo!  Can we do this in English?  The only things I can say in Italian are insults to your mom.  Do I know your mom?”


This didn’t seem like an auspicious start to my Adventure Redux.  Although when they locked me up in my dream, the blokes in jail with me weren’t Arabs; in fact, they all looked an awful lot like that new French President Guy, only taller.


Anyway, I decided I should be prepared for trick questions so I’ve been cramming. 


Drop Dead Gorgeous Immigration Guy:  (Wow!  He looks a lot like Johnny Depp):  “You come from Colli a Volturno?  Who is the mayor?”


Smug Jeano:  “The Il Sindaco is Alessandro Arcaro;  the Vice Sindaco is Tomasso Angelone.  He’s mio cugino.”  This is possibly even true.  Grandmom was an Angelone so I am probably related to Tomasso.  I wonder if he’s hot; we’re probably like fifteenth cousins.


Undisclosed Location Official being officious in a British kind of way:  “Where is Colli?”


I looked this one up so I am ready and can pinpoint it on a map if he happens to have one handy:  “Colli is in the province of Isernia, which is in the region of Molise.  The nearest big town where there is a Louis Vuitton Store is Campobassa.”  I’m not real sure about the Louis Vuitton Store, but I’m dead cert about the Campobassa part.  He probably won’t bother to check.  For good measure, I add “My family owns the butcher shop.”  This is actually true also.  I always think that when you’re telling big whoppers, you should throw some true stuff in just to confound them.


Drop Dead etc: “Sing your national anthem.”


It gets a little tough here.  I did download ‘Fratelli D’Italia’, and I almost have it memorized.  I really like that part where you go “Italia Chiamo!” or ‘Italy Calling!’  I always think to myself…I hope the Repubblica isn’t calling the Philadelphia Consulate for help; nobody there ever fucking answers the phone.  We would almost certainly lose the war with Albania.


Drop Dead Johnny Depp Lookalike:  “Are you sure that’s the Italian National Anthem?  It sounds like ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’ to me.”


Insulted Jeano:  “Si!  Si!  Everything I sing sounds like Bob Dylan.  I can’t help it.  Wanna hear ‘Come Back to Sorrento’ next?  It sounds just like ‘Everybody Must Get Stoned’.


I’m probably getting myself all worked up over nothing.  Darling James assured me during a convo the other day that my ‘Pasta Passport’ is magical and smites Immigration Officials by vaporizing them instantly, just like Mt. Vesuvius.


I’m pleased to report that my excess luggage has arrived at it’s final, secret destination, and without any of those pesky little ‘search and seize’ pit stops at Terminal 4.


I had a date with Moshe Thursday night, (we went to an ultra-orthodox wedding) and a last date with DooWop Guy on Sunday night ( the Schmooze at the JCC and dinner).  DooWop Guy burned a CD for me as a goodbye present; his favorite songs by Shirley Ellis, The Temptations and Smokey and the Miracles.  Steve swore he would come over to visit.  I sure hope not.  “Gee, sorry.  That’s the very week I’m going to Dubai with the girls.  I hear the shopping is divine.”  Hey, at least he didn’t take any goddamned pictures.  He did suggest it…..some idea about me – and my mink coat.  I have another date with Moshe tomorrow night; probably our absolutely last one.  Really.


On the other side of the Pond…  I mean in Undisclosed Location, Arrival Dos and exciting parties are busily being organized.  Oz Ed and Clare had a barbecue for me.  “Hm” I groused to BooBoo when she told me, “Isn’t the guest of honor meant to be at stuff like that?  I didn’t get any of Ed’s Killer Hamburgers.”  “No, Jeano” BooBoo explained, “You weren’t invited.  Ed said it was ‘The Barbecue Before Jeano Came Back’, kind of like Pinkie’s ‘Bank Holiday Bash After Jeano Left’.”  Robbie Lee had better not have been the musical entertainment, Oz Darling.  Not only do they drive on the wrong side, their parties are backwards.  I can only wonder what other special events in my honor are going on right now.  “Jeano!  Brilliant Do at the Ritz Eileen had for you!  You would have been chuffed.” 






Published January 21, 2008 by jean cohen

A bit of clarification on the last blog.  I got a lot of emails.  The title ‘Ees da sa sussaway” is what Chief Halftown always said when he started his show.  It means ‘Let’s get started” in the Native American Seneca language.


It was off to Philadelphia on Friday morning for a last visit before I become peripatetic and wander around Europe on my passaporto Italiano. 


Stuart picked me up in Center City and whisked me off to the Greater Northeast, where cousin GerryP lives.  We had planned to do lunch.  Stuart left it up to me where I wanted to eat.  I consulted my “Philadelphia Food I Will Miss Dreadfully” list, and opted for breakfast at a diner – and a double order  of Scrapple.  I had already given GerryP my ‘must eats’ for the rest of the weekend.


I was sad to say ‘goodbye’ to Stuart, but not sad enough to say I’m not moving to Europe.


GerryP had made all the arrangements for the dinner Saturday night as a memorial to Rere.  Rere was her sister, as well as Joanne’s.  I had told GerryP on the phone that I would turn up on Friday, and that whatever she had organized was absolutely fine with me.


“What do you want to eat tonight” she asked worriedly.  She’s very compulsive.  “I don’t care” I assured her.  “Maybe a cheese steak….and pizza from that place where the guy is the cousin of Charlies’, you know, the pizza place in the old neighborhood….and a Wawa cappechino…and maybe a Tastykake butterscotch krimpet…and we can split a hoagie and a soft pretzel with mustard” I mused, consulting my list.  “And we can get a tomato pie and have it cold for breakfast tomorrow.”


She just shook her head.  GerryP is older than me (much older) and still treats me like I’m twelve.  After dinner (burp!) we stopped to visit an aunt, and then went back to GerryP’s, put on our pjs and watched TV and went through a huge box of family pictures.  After I did the research for my Italian citizenship, I had started to make an Incollingo Family Tree for all the cousins, and wanted pictures to embellish it.  I called the other cousins coming to the dinner on Saturday.  Me:  “Buon Sera, mia cugina.  It is I, Reginamaria, the REAL Italian; the one who’s a citizen.  Please bring lots of family pictures tomorrow night and we’ll all trade.”  Am I awesome, or what?


On Saturday, we shopped.  It is an actual fact that when two or more Incollingo descendents get together, a mall must be visited.  I made GerryP promise that she would not let me buy a single article of clothing.  My packing is not going well.  Where did all that stuff come from?   “If I buy ANYTHING” I warned her, “Not only will I cut up all of my credit cards, but I’ll cut up yours too.”   She swore she would stop me.  We got to the mall and just agreed to meet in like two hours.  That meant me, and my plastic, were unchaperoned during a huge sale.  A very bad idea.   


I bought the coolest jeans and a really pretty sweater.  They were on sale.  I swear they were practically free.  I will actually have to wear them to Undisclosed Location, Europe because they will not fit into my suitcase.  It’s all GerryP’s fault.


We went home to begin getting ready for dinner.  This is true.  The clothes I had brought  to wear to dinner were nearly identical to what she was wearing.  I didn’t think this was fair.  After all, I couldn’t go home and get something different to wear.  “Don’t worry” mia cugina reassured me “I’ll sit at the other end of the table.”  What a thoughtful cousin!


“Where are we eating?” I inquired.  “It’s called ‘Johnny’s’’ GerryP told me.  Since I don’t know Northeast Philly, it didn’t mean anything to me.  Rick, GerryP’s friend drove and when we got there, the place looked like something out of a Godfather movie.  “What kind of food?” I asked.  GerryP looked at me like I was stupid.  “Italian” she said.  “What else would we eat?  We don’t like anything else.”


Of course.  When ten Italians go out to dinner on a Saturday night, why would they eat something different? It’s not like we eat Italian more than four or five times a week ordinarily.   Besides, it’s a perfect opportunity to criticize the chef’s gravy, pasta, meatballs, Italian bread, etc.  “My bruchetta is MUCH better…I put just a touch of Chianti in it.” 


It was brilliant to see Joanne and Colonel Mickey, Blood Relative and License to Injure Slightly, Tony Spumoni the Fruitman and his bride, Kate.  I had missed their wedding; I was still in Weybridge when they got married. And GerryP’s cousin ‘from the other side’ LisaP, who is a Puccio.  I must mention the cousin who wasn’t there (you know who you are).  She doesn’t speak to any of us in true Italian Vendetta style.  Yo, Marian, we don’t like you either!  And you have bigger Incollingo Thunder Thighs than any of us.  Yes, the famous thighs were all merrily undulating just like the hills around Sorrento.


I remembered one of those bittersweet memories.  Everyone was at mine for a pool party; I don’t remember what the occasion was.  The cousins were all sitting on the ledge of the Jacuzzi drinking vino and laughing about the good old days.  I got out to get the Lambrusco bottle, and Jerry commented, “You know, you’re right.  You really do all have the same enormous thighs.”  I smiled sweetly at my honey as I snarled, “And you’re hoping to have sex again exactly when before your eightieth birthday?”


The food was wonderful (for food not cooked at home by my cousins or me) and the vino flowed…and flowed some more.  All we needed was that damned mural of ‘The Last Days of Pompeii’.  We had the red velvet and Italian music on the sound system.  We shared the pictures we’d all brought and told funny stories about when we were little.  I sometimes levitate to a different astral plane.  Really.  I am very spiritual and  I felt Rere there with us.  After dinner, before the Mob came in and shot up the place (okay, that didn’t happen but it could have) we all went back to GerryP’s for coffee and cake and more reminiscing.


This is where my lovely weekend went pear-shaped.


I woke up for my usual middle of the night pee and found GerryP sprawled in the bathroom puking.  “Are you okay?” I asked.  Hey, I had a lot of wine.  “Do I look okay?” Gerry answered, a little testily I thought.  “I’m having a kidney stone attack,”  “Oh, okay.  Don’t catch a cold on the floor” I advised her as I headed back to bed.


About ten minutes later, she was standing next to the bed.  “Jeanie, you need to drive me to the Emergency Room.”  This was a scary thought.  We all know that ‘Jeano behind the wheel of a motor vehicle’ means medical treatment for humans or, at the very least, the vehicle.  Well, I thought, at least we’ll be heading to the hospital when we crash so that’s really pretty efficient.


I helped her get dressed, and got her in the car.  “Okay” I said bravely, “Where’s the hospital?”  Gerry, who was busy puking into a plastic Acme bag in the back seat, mumbled something.  “Gerry.  I have no idea where anything is up here.  You have to tell me where to go.”  A snippy cousinly exchange ensued, and she criticized my driving all the way to the hospital.  One bright spot was that there was a Wawa on the corner near the hospital.  I could dump Gerry and her puky Acme bag at the door and nip over to Wawa for a jumbo cappuccino.   


It really wasn’t funny.  I was really scared.  They got Gerry hooked up with some IVs and at least got the pain under control.  She had a CAT Scan and the stone was enormous and needed to be blasted to smithereens because it was too big to be passed naturally.  The E.R. doctor didn’t want to discharge her.  He called the Urologist and wanted it done immediately.  Fortunately, it was Championship Sunday and the playoffs were on telly; the Urologist didn’t want to blast GerryP’s boulder.  Maybe he is a Patriots fan.  He couldn’t be a G-men fan; we were in Philly.  The Urologist said to call his office on Monday to arrange to have it done.  So at eight o’clock in the morning, I carefully drove GerryP home (after a pit stop at Wawa).  I didn’t want to spill my cappuccino.


Obviously, our plans for the day were shot.  It was only more shopping and watching the playoffs anyway.  Gerry needed to rest so I just headed for the El into Center City and made my way back to Mallville.


It was a fantastic weekend.  They may all be a little strange, but ti amo mia cuginas.







Published January 16, 2008 by jean cohen

Well, I can’t sort and pack every minute, can I?


I accepted a date – he seemed nice – and I was meeting him at Barnes & Noble (naturally).  I turned up and he was waiting.  Indian Guy is very nice.  Yeah.  That’s what I said.  And not the acceptable Chief Halftown kind of Indian; the kind from Bombay or wherever.  I loved Chief Halftown.  I wanted to marry him when I grew up and live in a teepee on I-95 in Cornwells Heights, Pennsylvania.  Is that rather like living in a succah on the Garden State?


When I recounted the details of my date to Sister Pinkie, she asked “Are you trying to ‘do’ one guy from absolutely every ethnic group before you move back to ‘Vertigo’?”  (Note:  Remember?  I’m speaking in code.)  “No.  Of course not” I huffed, insulted.  “I deleted Puerto Ricans, Arabs and Eskimos.  I do have standards, you know.”


Indian Guy was very interesting.  He lived in England for 15 years.  He worked for the Queen.  Really.  I wanted to ask if his job had anything to do with selecting hats.  It didn’t.  He translated official documents from English into whatever language Indians speak when they don’t work for Dell Technical Support and speak gibberish.


We had lunch and went to the movies.  It was…like…a proper date.  He did mention, more than a few times, in order: a) the freckles; b) the red hair; c) the freckles.  I was pretty mean and forgot to mention that I’m leaving in a few weeks for an undisclosed location in Europe.  He asked for another date, and I explained that I was going home to Philly for the weekend for a memorial for my cousin who passed away on the day after New Year’s.    He said he would call and he did.  I had to sort of prevaricate about next weekend.  I have a date with DooWop Guy for the Schmooze, and a date with Moshe.  (Don’t even think about taking the piss.)


This next part is embarrassing.  G-MEN ROCK!  ELI IS AWESOME!  Okay, Mike?  Was that enthusiastic enough?  Oh…I forgot.  The Fighting Irish will be back – next year – restored to glory.  Honestly, what a girl has to do for a teensy favor.


The girls, who are meeting me in Undisclosed Location, Europe have apparently decided to make a weekend of it.  BooBoo Blondie reported that they are arriving ‘a day or two’ before me.  It kind of makes me glad that we changed it from that other Undisclosed Location in Europe where there are Brown Cafes.  I would have grown old waiting in the train station for them to sober up and actually turn up, if they didn’t get themselves arrested.  That’s right, Ladies.  Let’s all keep a low profile…fly under the radar….not cause a scene.


Published January 12, 2008 by jean cohen

Upon the arrival of my passaporto Italiano, things kicked into high gear.


BooBoo Blondie said I needed to do a blog.  I said “What if everybody at the British Embassy reads it every day?”  Hey, you don’t know.  What else do they have to do except discuss the Queen’s hats?  I personally think she has excellent taste in headwear.


Anyway, this might be a little confusing.  Because I am usually confused, and I’m writing in code.


By Tuesday, Sister Pinkie had rented me a house, in an undisclosed location in Europe.  Coincidentally, it is very similar to the house I had when I lived in Weybridge, England long, long ago.


By Thursday, the girls had pretty much gotten it furnished.  Someone, and he knows who he is (maybe not; he was pissed during the convo) commented that they didn’t have to furnish the kitchen, unsubtly hinting that I can’t cook.  I shot right back that all my lasagna pans and spaghetti pots are in storage at his and that I will whip him up a double-cheese lasagna as soon as all the Arrival Dos are over and I’m sober again.


Frantic phone calls crossed the Pond both ways.  I rang Pat at the Grotto with a question, and while she dealt with a little unpleasantness regarding some drunken customers, she handed the phone over to Colin to natter to me.  I wish she had asked me first.  Maybe Ewan was there, wearing his kilt.  We could have had phone sex while catching up.  Colin filled me in on the latest gossip about Edwina and Spanish Joe.  (Don’t ask; it’s STILL going on.)


The girls are going to meet me in an undisclosed location in Europe on an undisclosed date and time where they speak French.  We are going to shop, and drink, and maybe eat.  Then we will all go to the undisclosed location where I will be living.  Maybe I will start referring to the undisclosed location as ‘Waveland’, which happens to be a real place, and of which I am actually a citizen.  I have triple citizenship; ‘dual’ citizenship is so passé.  Or ‘Vertigo’ after that U2 song that Mike plays incessantly at the pub.


Pat is so funny.  She rang to say that the undisclosed date is ‘Super Bowl Sunday’ in some country, and that ‘there was a chance that the G-men might be in the big dance’.  When I got up off the floor, I fell down laughing, I assured her that she didn’t have to worry about THAT happening.  The G-men will not be busy after tomorrow.

Note to Mike (who is doing me a REALLY big favor):  Of course I didn’t mean that.  I positively adore the Giants.  And Notre Dame.  Did they really lose NINE games this season?  Didn’t the Naval Academy break a streak of 43 consecutive losses to the Irish this season?  (Scary Fairy made me put that in) Gee, Penn State went to the Alamo Bowl and crushed the Aggies.  And you’re putting your faith in Eli Manning?  TeeHeeHee.  (Sorry, Mike.)


Obviously, I can’t disclose any more of the super secret details yet.  There’s much more to be done before I head down (or up; I can never get it straight) the Garden State for the last time.










Published January 9, 2008 by jean cohen

That was kinda mean, wasn’t it?  Ending my blog at that particular point?


Col tempo e con la paglia si maturano le nespole.  Or as I like to say, “With time, everything comes to accomplishment.”  Even an Italian passport.  Yes, it was my passport.


Mail Guy delivered it yesterday.  I was so excited I kissed him.  Hey, Mail Guy is sorta cute.


I texted everyone in Britain, and called everyone here.  It’s beautiful.  It says “Unione Europa – Repubblica Italiana’ on the cover.  Don’t worry.  I’m getting 8” X 10” photos done, so you all have a picture of my passport.  I feel as though I have just given birth to an elephant, after carrying it for a year and a half.


I am chuffed to discover that my eyes are ‘marrone’ and my hair is ‘ramato’.  And did you know that I am 170 somethings tall (I’m sure it’s not inches)?


Anyway, I superstitiously refused to make any definite plans until I actually had the passaporto in mio mani.  Now I’m cranking into high gear.  Dearest Sister Pinkie is house hunting, Arrival Dos are being organized…


Jerry came to visit last night.  It’s been a while.  And who knew he spoke Italian?  Perhaps when you’re dead, learning new languages is a snap.  I was very relieved to see that he was wearing a Shiksatoo shirt and shorts.  (When he turns up in a yarmulke and tallis, look out; he’s mad.)  I think he said he was really happy for me.  My Italian isn’t very good yet.  He did have a few things to say in Yiddish; maybe I won’t share those.


I am excited, and happy, and damned pleased with myself.


Published January 7, 2008 by jean cohen

I made a quick trip to the Dark Side, or as other people call it, The Italian Consulate General, last week.  You won’t believe this.  It’s true.  Really.


“Buon giorno” I said politely when she got around to calling “Numero Tre!”  (I was the only fool there.)  “It’s been over a month.  Is my passporto pronto?” “Un momento” she replied.  This actually meant “Make yourself at home; you’re going to be here for a long time.”   She disappeared into the back for an Espresso break and to look for my folder.  She returned about an hour later, with the file, shaking her head.  I wasn’t sure if it was because of the pizza stains on my file or the results of my ‘questuro’.


“No.  Sorry.  Not yet” she said.  “A couple more weeks.”  “But…” I started to argue, but then I gave up.


Pay attention.  This is the good part.  “By the way” she told me, “the fee for passporti went up January 1, so you owe us some more money.”  No, I didn’t murder her.  Remember?  I’m trying to not piss off the paisons.  I didn’t even ask “If you didn’t get it done in the time frame you promised, why is that my fault?”  “Quando lira?” I asked and paid her the lousy twelve bucks.  I did ask this time that they Express Mail it so I wouldn’t have to go back to pick it up.  The clerk agreed and promised me that when the passport issuing machine got fixed (did I mention it was on holiday in Tenerife or broken or whatever) mine would be the first passport she issued and that she would ring to let me know it was on its way.


With shameless, shallow self-centeredness, I wheedled Israeli Guy into driving me to King of Prussia on Friday.  I needed to take some boxes to my storage unit, and I wanted to try and find some stuff in all the clutter.  I haven’t lost my blinding charisma – obviously.  We sniped at each other for two bloody hours, from the Garden State to the Jersey Turnpike to the Pennsy Turnpike.  Gee, it was just like old times.


At one point, Moshe did say “What did you just call me?  Was that Italian?  The Yiddish is bad enough.  I don’t speak Yiddish and I don’t speak Italian.  And I don’t speak ‘British’ either.  Can’t you hold a conversation completely in English?”  “Scusami” I said just to annoy him.  “I get meshugeh.  Touches ahften tish.”  At which point, he started mumbling in Hebrew.  I think I might miss Israeli Guy a tiny bit when I leave.  And he didn’t shave.  REALLY big sigh. 


I took Moshe to lunch at the Deli, because I am polite and thoughtful.  Well…actually I wanted some Scrapple and you can’t get it in North Jersey.  I suggested that he try a genuine “Philly Cheese Steak”.  He’d never had one; in fact, he’s never ever been to Philadelphia.  After we argued about whether it is necessary to actually have cheese on a ‘cheese steak’ (I won; I was planning on caging several bites; I asked for ‘double wit’ too), he asked “What’s ‘scrapple’?”  “Sweetie” I told him, “You really are better off not knowing.”  “Is it PORK” he asked in much the same tone as “Is that CRACK COCAINE you’re sniffing?”  The scrapple was awesome.


After one final stop at Wawa to get a extra-large, jumbo Wawa cappuccino… AH… we headed back to Mallville.  After Moshe unloaded all the boxes I brought back with me, he asked if I wanted to go to NYC to the Oneg Shabbat at Beth Tikvah with him.  Yeah.  Right.   “Thanks, Sweetie” I told him.  “I have to drop some stuff off at a friend’s flat in the City next week.  I’ll call ya.  Shabbat Shalom!”   Honestly, a Catholic school education prepares you for any situation.


When I checked the mail, there was a notice from the Post Office.  They had tried to deliver a priority mail envelope from Philadelphia.