When I was younger, I asked my mother if I could add a vowel to the end of my name. “I want people to know that I’m Italian, and with a name like Flowers they won’t.”
The former Lucy Fusco just looked at me and shook her head, which was Italian for “If God made us perfect, we’d have nothing to pray for.” I suppose it’s also why she named me after the patron saint of the mentally diseased. Really, look it up.
While only 50 percent of my DNA is from the bel paese, I feel completely Italian, despite the freckled white skin which refuses to tan, the inability to cook anything that doesn’t come with reheating instructions and an aversion to homemade wine. These are all part of the stereotype of the paisano, along with the certainty that somewhere along the genealogical trail I would have tripped over piano wire.
You see what I did there? I made what some would consider an ethnic slur, and what others (the kind of Italians I grew up with) would notice as self-deprecating humor. I was surrounded by relatives who probably knew Mafiosi, and might even have invited them to social events, but who looked at that part of the heritage as an infamia, a disgrace, albeit one that you could joke about.
I love my origins. I may not be able to cook, but I know that God created every other cuisine just so that people would realize you can’t beat pasta Amatriciana and a Caprese salad. I will never be mistaken for a Mediterranean…
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