Tag Archives: family

Hesitation

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She wasn’t exactly outgoing, but then again she wasn’t even two. She was so small, yet I could see she still had some adult tendencies while trying to find someone with whom to play.

Hesitation.

She inched closer with a small toy in her hand, some kind of little wooden person that went with the large train table where the other kids played. She took quick look at me, maybe for support, maybe not. I smiled and urged her on. The child she approached was taller. Older. Also hesitant and unsure of herself. Maybe more so.

“Play?” she said in her small voice, the one she used when we were not at home. She gently placed the little wooden toy on the table in front of the girl, who looked at it for a moment before turning and running to her mother.

She looked at the toy, left behind on the table, and my heart broke a little. I wanted to reach out to the mom, to the little girl, and let them know it was okay, that they could be friends. But I didn’t. Instead, I picked up the wooden toy and started playing with my daughter.

Underwierd

“I don’t like my underweird, daddy,” she said to up him as they stood in line at the market. He had no clue what she was talking about, but noticed she was doing the pee pee dance.

“Your what?”

“Underweird.”

“Do you have to go to the bathroom?”

“Huh?”

“The bathroom. Potty? Do you have to pee?”

She looked up at him and seemed to think about it. He couldn’t believe she was surrounded by all of that candy and not begging for some.

“No, thank you. I don’t have to go.” He was baffled. Why was she doing the pee pee dance if she didn’t have to pee? You don’t just do that awkward dance, grabbing at yourself and putting your knees together. He’d never seen her act like this before.

“Okay, let’s go to the bathroom,” he said to her, reaching out for her hand. She took it and he carried the basket of food towards the restrooms. The marmalade slipped from side to side due to its weight, which threw him off a bit as he walked. As he stopped in front of the restrooms, she pulled at his hand a bit.

“Can I wait out here?” she pleaded.

“What?”

“While you pee?” she said to him.

“You’re the one who has to pee,” he responded with his eyebrows up. He had no clue what was going on.

“Nuh-uh. I don’t have to pee.” She started pulling at herself again.

“Then what are you doing?” he asked, pointing to her hands. She began to do what he thought was the pee pee dance once more.

“It’s my underweird. I don’t like my underweird.”

“Your WHAT?” He looked up into the flourescent lights of the market as if God or the loudspeakers of the supermarket could help him. Meanwhile, she pulled her skirt up and pointed at her underwear.

“My UNDERWEIRD!” she said, pointing. He finally understood and pushed her skirt back into place.

“Okay hun. We can change them when we get home. And for the record, it’s underWEAR.”

“What’s a record?” she asked.

“Never mind.”

Drawing by the super-talented Larissa Meek.

Zinnias, Zinnias Everywhere

As I ran down the dirt path through the wood my sneakers kicked up a slight dirt cloud, creating a simple map for them to follow. I certainly didn’t want them to lose me; after all, they were just children and couldn’t be left unattended in a forest so dense with trees. Plus, I had no clue where I was going – we had never taken this particular path before.

The density of the trees began to thin as I huffed. The backpack of supplies kept thumping against my back with each stride. I was not in shape for such a run, but I could hear the giggles gaining on me as their little feet clomped on the same hard dirt as mine. The sun began to strobe into my eyes, momentarily blinding me for split seconds here and there. The path widened into a field as the brightness of the sun’s rays made it impossible to see. I stopped and put my hands on my knees for support as I panted in an attempt to regain my breath.

As my eyes adjusted and the children gained on me, the random rainbow of colors started to come into focus. Where was I? The field came into focus as my irises adjusted, and I saw a huge field of flowers. Zinnias, zinnias everywhere, zinnias taller than me.

The children caught up and asked for a drink from my backpack. I decided this field, this beautiful, amazing force of nature, was the perfect place for our picnic lunch.

This story was inspired by the phrase “Zinnias, Taller than me” shared with me by my friend Kerri. This comes from a project I started where friends give me random words and phrases, and I write whatever comes out. Hope you like it.

Inheritance

Hello all! My new book is out and is called Inheritance. It’s a memoir of time I spent interviewing my grandfather about his life. I learned so much and highly recommend that everyone take the time to sit down and talk to their elders, before it’s too late. Read the description below.

It was published by the awesome guys over at WragsInk. I cannot thank them enough.

Here’s an excerpt:

My grandparents were always fun to be around. Even when I was little, they used to fight all the time.
    “Let me try some of that cake.”
    “You’ve had enough of the cake!”
    “I want some more!”
    “Fine. Someone pass him the cake.”
    This all transpired in loud voices, sometimes switching over to Italian that I can only assume was to disguise the cursing from our young ears. But the thing was, I always knew they loved each other. The bickering, the fighting, the complaining, it was all out of love. Not once as a child did I ever think it meant anything else. Only someone there could fully understand how we all knew. Maybe it was just something we inherited from our parents because they knew. Or, possibly, it was just something we felt in our guts.
    It’s funny, but every time I watch Seinfeld and the Costanzas, George’s parents, start fighting, I can’t help but think of my grandparents.
    They lived. Even as they became senior citizens, they were always out and enjoying life. They were in clubs, they went to dances, they attended weekly concerts on the boardwalk whenever there was one. They were always out visiting friends, going to dinners, enjoying themselves. I always looked up to them for that, and hoped that when I reached their age, I would be the same way.

I’ve also gotten an official Facebook page here. Please stop by and like it.

Here’s a description of the book as well:

On the day author Dennis Finocchiaro sat and started interviewing his grandfather for a graduate school project, he never knew how far into the past he would travel or the range of emotions he would feel. This is the story of Rosario “Charlie” Finocchiaro through the eyes of his grandson Dennis, throughout his childhood in 1920s Philadelphia to war in Italy all the way up to his retirement in Havertown; Inheritance introduces the reader to the life of an everyday man, a soldier, contractor and patriarch. Experience childhood in 1920s Philly, wartime Italy during World War II, the Jersey Shore throughout many decades, and contemporary suburban Philadelphia in a memoir that jumps through the last one hundred years and introduces the journey of a grandson getting to know his grandfather thanks to an assignment. Humor, romance and even a few bootleggers make this nonfiction account of one man’s life both heartwarming and informative. Travel through time with a grandson as he learns his family’s history, heritage, and ultimately, his greatest inheritance.

Long Lost William from Coney Island

They all gathered to hear the letter from their long-missing relative, William, Junior. His mother Betty called to her sisters from her alley window, who called their children from slumber, and they all met on the community patio outside of Betty’s home to hear the news. Frank, a second cousin, had secretly been taking bets that young Will had been killed in a bar fight, while his sister Evangeline insisted he had joined the Peace Corps and was saving the world.

Betty didn’t even change from the robe she wore around the house; as a matter of fact, she hadn’t even bothered putting on shoes or slippers. The others, some of whom took the time to get dressed in their day suits, some still in pajamas, all congregated around the family matriarch, whispering at the possibilities of what the letter might contain as she carefully pulled at the envelope. The markings on the postage said California, which was quite a long trip from William’s hometown of Coney Island.

They were waiting for Will’s youngest brother, Peter, who had run into town to get his father, only to have the elder William return before him. Moments later, Peter ran up to the group, panting. Nobody bothered to ask what had taken him so long as Betty pulled the three pages out and started skimming the letter before her public reading. A single tear ran down her cheek as she cleared her throat and prepared to read aloud.

My First eBook! And it’s FREE!

Hi all! Just letting you know I created my first ebook and it’s FREE on iBook for both iPad and iPhone. It’s a short story about a young woman in the 1940s who goes to the shore with her family to keep her mind off her future husband who is off to war. She meets a young woman there and…you’ll have to read it to find out more!  You can find it by searching Dennis Finocchiaro or for the title, Wildwood, 1942.

And here is a helpful video on how to get iBooks for your Mac/PC if you don’t own one of the other technologies!

A Vaudevillian Moment

As far back as I can remember my grandmother reminisced about her days on stage back in the Vaudeville era.  Her and my grandfather were well known, in New York at least, as performers of music, dance, and probably even more so, comedy.

Grandfather, before he died, swore he’d made up Groucho’s famous “Outside of a book, a dog is a man’s best friend.  Inside a dog it’s too dark to read,” line back then on the stage.  It’s true, Groucho did attend one of their performances with his brothers, but regardless, there’s no way to prove that claim.

When I was little I would spend summers at my grandparents’ home in suburban New York, a small property that working the stage had paid for.  Mother considered it an extended visit, a vacation.  I loved it.  Dad, eternally disliked by my grandmother for pulling my mom out of the spotlight and marrying her, hated every moment.  Using work as an excuse, he would drive up from Philadelphia, our hometown, on weekends.

As I got older, after grandfather died, our visits were really all my grandmother looked forward to.  She would have my room all done up with a frilly pink bedspread (something I pretended to love even after I’d outgrown it) and would serve all of my favorite meals.  She would cater to anything I wanted as if I were her own daughter.  Actually, even mom didn’t have it as good as I did in that old house.

And every summer, like clockwork, she would pull out her old prop umbrella, worn out and missing the knob, and we would do one of the skits she loved so much with me playing the straight man.  She’d put on a funny hat and dress and jump right in.

“There are so many ways to understand what a lady is saying just by how she carries her umbrella!  Like if she holds it like this-”

And I would break in, “It means it’s raining?”

“No, no,” she would correct.  “It means she’s married!  And if she holds it like this-”

“She’s single?” I would ask, giggling.

“No!  It means she’s married and her husband is coming.”

“So you run?”

“Of course not.  Then you nod, like so.”

“So apologize?”

“No, stupid!  It means you want to meet her around the corner!”

“But she’s married!”

“Exactly, so you have to wait for the signal from her.”

“Which is?”

My grandmother would then flirtatiously lift her dress a bit to show some leg, usually with dirty work pants and boots underneath since she was always gardening.  This would have me doubled over in laughter by this point, keeping me from finishing the skit.

She would always chuckle along with me, then sit down in the nearest chair and remember the good old days, working the Vaudeville circuits with my grandfather.

Kissing Clauses

The holiday season had clearly taken hold of Philadelphia, and Martha was forced to swerved between more people than she had ever seen on South Street before. She passed Repo Records and finally swerved left to get off of the main street and head down to Bainbridge for a while. The relief allowed her to slow her pace and take in the sights of a road less traveled during her usual holiday shopping routine.

She passed a junk store she’d never seen before and out of the corner of her eye spotted something that made her stop dead on the sidewalk, leading a homeless man to bump into her. He excused himself and continued around her as she turned to look in the giant window filled with vintage holiday objects. She scanned the display, past a plastic wreath that had seen better days, ignoring a small set of Rudolph salt and pepper shakers to a shelf that was eye level. There they stood, and she instantly flashed back to childhood at her grandparents’ home in the suburbs. Santa Claus, hands behind his back, leaning in for a kiss. Mrs. Claus, hands also withdrawn, leaning in for the same kiss, standing on a little pedestal that Martha knew would make Santa’s wife spin and play a cute little holiday song similar to those that came from children’s jewelry boxes. Martha turned and entered the store, opening the door a little too boisterously, causing the bell attached to the top to ring with more violence than it should.

She could practically hear her grandmother tell her to be careful as she reached for one of the statues. The man at the counter, old and frail beyond his years, looked up at her over his wire-rim reading glasses. He smiled and approached her, fixing his aged suspenders as he walked.

“Interested in the kissing Santa and Mrs. Claus, young lady?” She nodded and put a hand out to take the statue of Mrs. Claus.

“Careful now,” the elderly man warned her. “Those are hand painted and from the 1970s. Do you know the set?”

She thought back to Christmases past and could practically smell the spaghetti sauce cooking in her grandmother’s kitchen. She could see the chestnuts roasting in the fireplace, her grandfather worriedly checking them every few minutes. Even the old marble table where the two statues sat year after year came into view for Martha.

And then she remembered what happened to the set. Her little sister was playing with them, winding up Mrs. Claus, when the tragic event took place. A stumble, a fumble and Mrs. Claus’ severed head rolled up to Martha’s left foot. A frantic aunt sneaking the statue away and quickly playing doctor with quick dry rubber cement, and it was almost like it never happened. But Martha could tell; she could spot the spider web crack in the statue’s neck in an instant, maybe just because she knew it was there.

“Young lady, are you okay?” the man asked her, waking her up from the memory. She shook her head.

“I’m fine. I would love to purchase this.” As she turned the statue, examining Mrs. Claus’ white apron, her green dress and the puckered lips, she noticed a tiny crack in the neck.

Ticka Ticka

“Ticka ticka two minutes,” her phone suddenly called out. She froze and looked at it as if it just bit her. She reached for it as it said it again. “Ticka ticka two minutes!” Her hand pulled away, then she shook it off. It is, after all, only her phone. She picked it up to find a calendar event going off.

She clicked it to get more information. It was set to go off at exactly this moment, but she hadn’t programmed it. She scrolled through, trying to remember why she would set it at this time. She gave up and put it down. Suddenly the bathroom door opened and her husband was standing there.

“Almost ready?”

“Yup,” she said.

“You know how I hate missing the previews.”

“I know, dear,” she said with a wink.

“Well, we have to leave in a minute to get there in time.”

“Then stop slowing me down!”

He shut the door and the phone erupted yet again. “Ticka Ticka one minute.”

The sound of her husband giggling came from the other side of the door.

Artwork by the lovely Nadia Lavard. Click the image for her Tumblr.

Shooting Star Beach

“But…” she looked at him, confused.

“I said space alien.”

“Okay…so you think the shooting stars are UFOs?”

“Yup!” he said with a triumphant smile.

“But the place is called Shooting Star Beach.”

He nodded. “Look, there goes another one!”

“Shooting star?”

“Space alien.”

“So let me get this straight.  You think the lights that look like shooting stars are – “

“Spaceships flying. Isn’t it obvious?”

“It’s not obvious. It’s dubious at best.”

He slouched a little as her mother walked up.

“He’s only eight,” she whispered into her daughter’s ear.