Family Secrets

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A family is a family, and they are the people one can never change. I am someone who has always been trying to overcome that fact given that mine is full of people with whom I would never willingly be associated. The madness starts on my father's side of the family tree: the boisterous Italian side. The source of power on that side rests in the hands of my grandparents.

My father's father is the first Giordano to be born in America, and he is quite a character. He is the first Nicolas Giordano, but one of three to exist now, but we call him Papa. Currently, he obsesses over being Batman, stealing as many “free” items as possible from anywhere he goes, and generally never shutting up. Being the social butterfly that he is, he only leaves his house if it is a family occasion and spends most of his time at home calling my father for help on one of his limitless supply of computers or solving sudoku puzzles. Aging has still not had an effect on his endless rambling, in fact, it is probably worse. Every year, Papa has less to talk about, so he fills the five-second silences with meaningless stories, jokes, or lies. When my grandma once told him during a car ride that he never says anything positive, the absence of sound lasted no longer than ten seconds before he began reciting nursery rhymes like “Mary had a little lamb” and “Peter Piper picked a pepper”. Making more rhymes up, these poetry performances endured for nearly an hour and came back up into his monologue conversations once a day everyday afterwards.

My father's mother, whom we call Nonna, is the source of all pessimistic comments ever to be said on this earth. She lives her life waiting for something terrible to happen to the extent that some would think she was wishing for these things to happen. Fortunate events are buried in the stress and anxiety that others will never be able to enjoy them. Hard work that brings success is only drowned out by the excuse that they simply “got lucky” and others work just as hard as they do. Nonna also tends to either never pay attention or need to hear something ten times before remembering it. Questions spill out like vomit from that woman's mouth, and sometimes I wonder if she is just a really convincing kidder or if she is actually oblivious of things occurring in front of her face. Trying to answer her stampeding questions as fast as she asks tunes a movie out with the only sounds coming from Nonna's throat. The questions only spread the confusion as she talks over the speakers and destroys everyone else's ability to hear anything. Every once an awhile a spirit watching down from heaven brings us mercy from the disaster of a film once either the Asked By or the Asked Of gets fed up with the ridiculous unawareness and the television gets turned off.

A positive about Nonna is her cooking: hot, Italian food for every meal and a lot of it. The Giordano household's activities can be summed up in three categories: cooking, eating, and meal planning. It is amazing that I don't return home from a weekend at their house with a case of morbid obesity caused by my forced lack of movement from the dining table. The oven in their joint gets more action in a day than all gourmet Italian kitchens in a week. Sometimes the food is delicious, but it never lasts long given that my cousins are animals when they eat without utensils or the capability to shut their mouths; they have a great knack of wiping out my appetite. Disturbing amounts of food pass through my family's bodies over a get-together, and sometimes I wonder if it goes into their stomachs at all or if it vanishes once it reaches their throats.

The relationship between my grandparents has slowly been declining from the lovebirds in the tenth century to the bickering toddlers we know today. Nonna is always yelling at Papa to have mercy and keep quiet for a few seconds while she bawls about something terrible that hasn't happened. Papa feels the need to fill every silence with the idiocy that he has perfected over the past century and make people wonder why such a stupid comment would ever leave a person's mouth. Times without speaking only come 20% of the time when chewing sounds is all that can be heard, either of Nonna's cooking or one of the hundred thousand restaurant mints Papa has collected over the past few years. While sleeping he still fills the silences with his train wreck snores; each is like a roar of an engine that vibrates the entire hemisphere. The number of severe snores mistaken for earthquakes around the country probably number in the triple digits thanks to Papa's horn of a throat. I'm lucky nobody has inherited that trait or else it'd be clash of the dead-wakers every holiday. While Papa says one thing dumber than the next and Nonna pleads Papa to put a cork in it, I wonder how I can ever be as calm as I am or if I am actually as insane as they are and can't realize it.

In a few ways, my grandparents can be maybe a little helpful. If I am ever experiencing awkward silences, I can always trust Papa to fill them, but I also run the risk of him saying something even more embarrassing. If I am ever in the midst of a nation-wide toilet paper shortage, they can lend me some of their everlasting stash. If I ever have hypothermia, I can stay at their house for just an hour or two before I start sweating because they set their thermostat on Sahara. If I am ever about to die of starvation, I can always count on Nonna to pull every packaged food that ever existed in the past decade out of her pantry and any baked food out of her oven. If I ever have the dying need to see a thousand pictures of the same three turkeys spotted in my grandparents' backyard once for five minutes, Papa took a million. If I ever need to hear something devastating to put me into a depression until I realize it never happened, one conversation with my grandma can buy me that. If I ever need to realize how wonderfully normal my parents are, one nice look at my grandparents can permanently imprint that in my brain.

I suppose I do have a lot to thank my grandparents for, maybe not for being normal, but for weird things I take for granted. Whether this realization will make me able to calm myself down during one of their impossible arguments, I have no idea. The only thing I do know is that they will still be fighting in their caskets for all of eternity.



No grandparents were harmed in the creation of this essay.





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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

EmptySoul said...
Jul. 16, 2011 at 10:49 pm
I enjoyed it very much. Thank you for posting.
 
blueandorange This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jul. 16, 2011 at 12:42 pm
Good, Very Good.
 
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