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“Darling,” My father says, “You’re only half Italian.”

My mother squints her eyes, and sneers for a moment.  “Excuse me?”

Dad grins.  “You’ve been misleading everybody.”

“So, what the other half, smart guy?”

“You’re half Italian, and half Sicilian!”

My mom grins for a moment, and then walks away.  Her feelings arn’t hurt, partly because she knows, when it comes time for a zing and a snark, she’ll catch him off guard, and the devastation will be total.  She retreats a little to make my Dad, for a fleeting moment, think his victorious, before the revenge comes.

Anyhow, that joke, no matter how old, tells me something.  If my mom is Roman and Sicilian, that make me a quarter Roman and a quarter Sicilian.  Funny thing is, I look like anything but an Italian American.  Look at my About Page picture — my mother tells me that’s a German’s face, which means I probably got my genes from my paternal grandfather’s side of the family.  He was of two halves: German and Irish.

At anyrate, my mom, like so many other Italian Americans, is infinitely proud of her ethnicity, so as one could imagine, she was delighted to plan a trip to Sicily in the late 1990’s.  Above,  my Father is standing in front of a sign for the town of Vizzini.  That’s also my mother’s maiden name.  It’s a shame, though.  While she was in Sicily, marveling at the landscape her ancestors walked  through, a young hooligan snatched her purse.  Naturally, I could make a joke about crime and Italians here, but if I did, my mother would find me, yell at me, and chase me while swinging  a large wooden spoon.

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