George Panetta, "Suit"

Joe’s snazzy new suit is white, an important fact he doesn’t realize until it’s too late.

(from The Italian American Reader)

Using sharp details and funny scenes, this story gets into the heads of people who think certain ways about certain things. Joe and the narrator are not dumb guys, but they live by these inane, mutating rules because they feel like outsiders, Italians in a WASpy world. A cool, atypical story.

Made me think about my dad, who grew up in ’50s Camden, in an Italian neighborhood. Whenever the family gets together, stories of the old neighborhood are told loudly and with much laughter by the Italians. Tales of strange arrangements, minor crimes, kids raised by aunts, old cars, funny dogs, weird sayings, what street, what was that drug store called, whose recipe?

The Irish side, my mom’s side, also grew up in Camden but those memories are never brought up, probably because the Italian side is so much louder.

Tonight is Project Christmas, wherein my family and my brother exchange gifts. He was in Australia over the holidays. It’s also when we’ll celebrate my dad’s birthday. Old tales of Camden will surely be told tonight. Besides his actual gifts, I think I’ll give him this Italian American Reader book. And also this excellent Doo-Wop collection I got at work, too. Course I’ll be burning that first. And please, no wop jokes.

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