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In this bleep, I poke a bit of fun at Gail’s family, in particular her mother. Unknown Chapter … Parents lie to their children because they know they are not supposed to admit they have favorites. My mother never bothered to lie, and she never tried to hide the look on her face when my sister walked into a room. She was fond of saying, “You take after your father’s side of the family, Gail.” I mean, I love my dad, but he has the face of an old hound dog. Exactly eleven months after I am born, Elaine joins the family. According to family lore, she never cried, never complained and never needed to be toilet trained. She crawled at four months, walked at ten months and climbed onto the potty at eighteen months. She sat like a cherub, all blonde curls that never got frizzy. She cooed, smiled, and delighted perfect strangers. Me? I was not so delightful. I had colic for the first six months, was so fat I couldn’t turn over to crawl and at eighteen months while my baby sister was reciting the Preamble to the Constitution, I finally began walking. Because her birthday would have made her a “late” first grader, my mother promptly enrolled her in a private school. The same year I entered regular kindergarten, Elaine was in an advance study group for gifted toddlers. The following September, we started first grade together. Until sixth grade, my mother dressed us like twins. People smiled. “Fraternal twins?” Teachers shook their heads. “Does Gail talk at home?” It was hard to get a word in while Elaine was reciting the preamble, the encyclopedia, and skyrocketing to the number one class, while I sat and pondered over Dick and Jane and their rotten dog Spot. It wasn’t Elaine’s fault that she was prettier and smarter. It wasn’t even her fault that when she was in the room I was reduced to wallpaper. By sixth grade the matching clothes vanished, Elaine was “skipped” and while I finished eighth grade, she dazzled the pants off the teachers at her high school for the eternally brilliant. She dated the elite of Manhattan and had three boys fighting for her attention for the Junior and Senior Proms. My friends all had coke-bottle glasses and braces. We boycotted our prom, due to the fact no one wanted to be seen in public with us. Elaine graduated from high school and entered Vassar at sixteen. I stayed behind to continue in my regular high school, attended City College, and commuted every day. While Elaine was joining sororities and going to Harvard-Yale football games, I was on the A express subway headed for my father’s hardware store on Broadway and 180th Street. When we were still dressing in the same clothes, my mother would take us walking down Broadway. We’d stop and get an ice-cream cone and sit with our legs closed and napkins tucked safely under our chins. Those walks are the only memories I have of me and my sister talking. We’d run ahead and look at all the store windows. “Look Gail, they have stuffed bras in this window.” On one such outing my mother gave in to our begging and allowed us to have a slice of pizza at Cimino’s Pizza and Subs. My mother nodded her approval. “How bad can it be? Mr. Cimino is on the Chamber of Commerce with your father.” Caesar Cimino, the Pizza King of Washington Heights, Riverdale, Fordham Road and Arthur Avenue, near Fordham University, was a tall, brash, dark Italian with a dark, happy young son, Anthony. It was wonderful to watch Mr. Cimino flip the pizza dough high into the air to the delight of the neighborhood children. I was overcome by the sweet aroma of bubbling cheese on top of plump red tomatoes. Pizza, I discovered, was better than noodle koogle. The Goldblum girls would never be caught dead eating on the street. We entered the basil scented palace, where our mother immediately ushered us to a table in the back, behind the ovens, to be certain none of the neighbors strolling along Broadway for their daily constitutional would see us. It was a rare treat, so we ate slower than usual to extend the thrill. I remember my face getting hot each time we went to Cimino’s and I saw the happy face of Anthony. He cocked his head and grinned. “Good afternoon young lady, how may I help you?” My mother pulled my arm. “Thank you, young man. We’ll sit in the back.” The third and last time she brought us, Elaine tapped my mother on the shoulder. “Mom, I think Gail has a crush on Mr. Cimino’s son.” “Don’t be ridiculous, Gail. He’s Italian.”
I introduce the shy beginning of what becomes an impossible romance. And being the silly romantic that I am, I see Gail as the poster girl for all hopeless romantics.
Tell me true …
Did you ever think your parents had a favorite?
Was it you?