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STORYTELLER

  

I was born in the coolest place, the Bronx, the land of truly gentle people. Ask me how I got my first job at the Bronx Zoo. My mother’s one of eight, and my father's one of ten and they all had spouses…and a million children. So many relatives with so many “parts,” like the plastic pieces to Mr. Potato Head. Everyone seems like someone whom I met before – well, sort of. Joe, the bus driver, for instance. Uncle Antonio’s big belly, Cousin Richie’s pointy ears, Little Sammy’s corny jokes, Aunt Adeline’s cruddy fingernails, Big Arthur’s goofy laugh…. And the stories! Did I ever tell you how Aunt Angelina lost her teeth? Or what Uncle Giuseppe really thinks about Sicilians? Do you know why Grandpa Cutrone was kicked out of the Italian army for what he did to that poor mule? Nine years of Catholic grade school, four years of Jesuit high school, and four years of Irish Christian Brothers in college and you expect me to be normal? Why did Dog-Face Dolores (oh, that savage nun!) do that to me in the sixth grade? It wasn't my fault! I also did time (seven years) at the State Penn (actually Penn State) where there are more cows than co-eds. Do you want to hear about crazy roommates, wacky girlfriends, depraved employers, and psychotic professors? How I beat the town’s heartless tax collector at his own game by convincing him that I was dead? In grad school there were six of us squeezed together, and Joe Keller refused to clean the only frying pan after cooking up his greasy hamburgers. He deserved to be taught a lesson! Another roommate, Freaky Freddie…we came home one day to find out that he had finally planted his special seeds in coffee cans all over the place. He had then cranked up the thermostat to 98 degrees to turn our humble hovel into a little Columbia. We just had to do something! My cheapskate professor sent me to Europe for three months on a special assignment. I had to live on 25 cents a day! After graduating, there was plenty of other travel - 42 states and 22 countries…. Oh God, will I ever forget what happened at those airports? How my gerbils turned into skeletons; the time my pet canary used up all the oxygen on the plane…. Yes, yes! I know I need help, but my doctor refuses to listen to me any longer. He told me to find some way to get everything off my chest, “Write it all down…go up on the roof and shout at the top of your lungs….”