I was amused when it was suggested that my Gravatar wear a fedora.  It happens that I really do have one, a particular piece of headgear that has special meaning to me – not that anyone could have possibly known that.  Note that I didn’t say “I wear one” because I’m not actually much of a hat guy, aside from the occasional utilitarian ball cap.  But I have one.  It’s rather small, well-worn and lives in an old trunk in my basement.  It belonged to an equally small and well-worn man who was a larger-than-life icon in my childhood.

My childhood was pretty bleak, growing up on the edge of poverty and being raised primarily by… well… myself and the television.  My parents were unhappily married and equally unhappy about an accidental pregnancy in their forties, my mother once confessing that she was about to file for divorce (scandalous for their generation) until she found out she was pregnant with me.  They were distant both to each other and to the accident that bound them, a distance reinforced by the fact that both worked just to barely keep our heads above water.  When I say this, I don’t mean it in modern McMansion-we-couldn’t-afford terms.  It was only when my eldest brother kicked in his entire construction paycheck that we had the luxury of paying the rent and affording food for the month.

My mother was a neurotic mess, believing that the best way to handle this late-in-life burden was a mix of barked orders, slapping hands and shrieked dire warnings.  My father was a passive-aggressive sulker who, not wanting to divide his parenting efforts in a similar manner, specialized almost exclusively in ignoring my existence.  On a good day, it almost looked like he was encouraging my intellectual curiosity by meeting my questions with silence or by responding with either “Ask your mother” or “Look it up.”

On the bright side, with both parents working, my life was pretty simple and structured.  From third grade on, I came home directly after school – no time for friends or hanging out, since my mother worked a four-to-midnight shift – and let myself in with my own key.  My mother would then berate me for being late anyway and fly out the door with the usual litany of all the potential deathtraps to avoid – don’t go near the windows (proximity would lead to my being sucked out and plummeting to my death sixty feet below), don’t answer the door (I would be kidnapped, molested and/or murdered), don’t touch the kitchen knives (they’re known for turning on their masters and severing wrists).  Lighting the gas stove to cook my own dinners ironically never came up on that little morbidity and mortality report but whatever.  My father was a floor manager at a retail department store (long since defunct) and, being salaried, was pretty much an indentured servant from opening until closing, not usually getting home until after seven each night, which left eight-year-old me on my own for a good four hours.

On my own except for the man referenced by my mother as an afterthought to her daily Cassandra routine. “If something happens, call Uncle Tony.”

There’s lots of missing and conflicting details about Anthony Gianquitto and it wasn’t until after my cousin died – barely surviving her parents – that anyone attempted a genealogy of that branch of the family.  I always remember Uncle Tony as being “old” – although that was anyone over forty to me back then – but exceptionally hale.  As it turns out, he was born in the late nineteenth century, making him about fifteen years older than he looked.  He married my father’s half-sister somewhere between world wars and sired one child, a daughter.  But he became the father-figure to most of the neighborhood, myself included.

He was a small, wiry little Sicilian monkey of a man. Looking back and picturing reference points, I’d probably guess he was about 5’6″ and I’d be shocked if he was ever more than a buck ten in weight. He was quick with a smile and a laugh – always genuine – and spoke the most horrifically broken English. He was gentle and generous, understanding and philosophical.  He also once bit off a much larger rival’s ear in a fight over my aunt’s hand.

Don’t judge a book by its cover.

During World War Two, he wasn’t allowed to serve in our armed forces – perhaps because of ethnicity, perhaps age – but he was a patriot as only an immigrant can be and, in an effort to serve his adopted homeland, he got whatever job he could, eventually literally working on the war machine of America as a machinist.  It was a different world back then, one in which “Italians need not apply” was still a recent and socially acceptable attitude.  Combining that bigotry with the fact that Italy had sided with Hitler, it wasn’t entirely unsurprising that Tony was threatened on his second day.  So, on his third day, he went to work, grabbed a flat of scrap steel, ground a crude edge on a knife that would’ve given Jim Bowie a hard-on, beat the shit out of the guy that threatened him the previous day and generally announced that he would gut like a fish anyone that tried to keep him from doing his part “for-A-may-ree-ka” (it was all one word, the way he spoke it) from that point forward. He carried it under his shirt every day. One of my brothers inherited that knife when Tony passed. I may have to steal it some day.

That was the only tale I’d ever heard that involved him being employed.  I have no idea what job skills he possessed or what he did for a living before he retired but I had unwavering faith that there was nothing in the universe this gargantuan little man couldn’t handle, negotiate or make right.  He was – and I suppose, on some level, still is – my idol and the closest thing I ever found to a superhero.  A superhero whose only costume was his fedora.

Tony was always a part of my life and I don’t remember ever seeing him outdoors – even on family trips to the beach – without that fedora on his dome nor do I remember ever seeing him indoors without it in ready reach. It is visible in almost every picture I have of him.  I don’t recall any transition, either. It was like this binary magic trick: outdoors on – poof! – indoors off.  I would visit downstairs early (he lived on the third floor of our apartment building, we lived on the fifth) and find him already awake, almost always dressed in dark slacks, a “wife-beater” undershirt and a simple dress shirt over it. Tucked in, of course – Tony was no cafone. You could tell the seasons by the length of the sleeves and how many buttons were undone. You could also tell the time of day by his seated activity. If he was sitting in the kitchen, reading the newspaper, having espresso and a single slice of toasted Italian bread, it was morning. If he was sitting in the dining room, having espresso with a few fingers of Sambuca, it was mid-morning. If he was siting in the livingroom, watching a baseball game, having a Miller Lite (I worship him, so I forgive this) and a slice of prosciutto on a single slice of untoasted Italian bread, it was noon.  If he was sitting in the dining room, eating like a longshoreman who’d just come off the Bataan Death March and washing it down with more espresso and Sambuca, it was five o’clock. I usually had to go back home before I could see what he was eating and drinking to denote bedtime.

Somewhere in the midst of these repasts, several times each day, he would make the rounds.  I used to say that he was the mayor of our neighborhood but that doesn’t show enough respect or convey the love he inspired.  He wasn’t some mere elected official.  He was at the very least our beloved knight errant if not our fedora-crowned king.  Uncle Tony taught me the difference between power and authority.  Keep in mind, there are some… “unsavory” relatives in my family.  I don’t mean muggers and pickpockets.  I mean guys with interesting nicknames who tended to spell “family” with a capital “F”.  Uncle Tony not only wasn’t one of them, he used to routinely run them off.  His wife, my aunt, was pretty much estranged from her family because this corrupt, murderous, violent pack of classic Guinea gangsters was scared shitless of this affable little monkey-man, who possessed a genial forthrightness that camouflaged a hidden but unstoppable intensity.  You did not want to piss him off.  Remember that whole ear thing.

Uncle Tony would don his fedora and just wander the neighborhood. He’d walk the tenth-of-a-mile to the local bodega and buy the morning edition.  He’d chat with the owner, with half the customers as they stopped in on the way to work, with the other shop owners along the block.  In a city suffering from severe racial tensions and in which there were some places you just didn’t go unless you were “the right kind”, Uncle Tony walked with relaxed impunity.  He would identify people as “Chinaman”, “Portoriccan”, “da Black” but they were statements of obvious features, like saying “the one-legged bald guy”.  There were no connotations – people were just people and you treated them with human respect until they earned your contempt, which you delivered with equal sincerity.  I went with him a few times and it was a veritable cacophony of “Hey! Tony!” the whole way.

And he knew their names. He knew their family stories. He knew their problems. He remembered every detail and asked – sincerely – “Howz-i-goin wit dat…[fill in the personal problem here]?”  And it wasn’t a manipulative thing nor was it a “community organizer” thing.  It was just… Tony.  Every person he talked to was his best and only friend yet was nearly forgotten as soon as he saw the next face.  He listened, he heard, he offered a little advice and a large side order of “So what? Life’s good!”  He was totally invested yet completely detached and everybody felt better after talking to Tony.  They called him “Boss”, like the rest of us in the family did.  I’ll always remember that.  Those “other relatives” might be called that, too, but they demanded it.  It was extorted respect, borne of fear.  My uncle?  It was tribute.  It was honor.  It was respect, freely given.

Of course, he had his quirks. He was utterly baffled by my Irish mother’s resistance to his giving her seven-year-old a glass of wine with dinner.  He would smuggle me shots of Sambuca on Sunday morning.  For some reason, he treated Bulova watches with absolute reverence and would occasionally show me his, ensconced in a mahogany box, like he was revealing the Ark of the Covenant.  He always carried a pocketknife.  Nothing “tactical”, just a simple folder – but I saw him cut through rope with it like it was a fucking lightsaber.  The admonition to “don’ never touch da blade” came out of his mouth every time the knife came out of his pocket.  He taught me how to oil a sharpening stone and hone a razor’s edge.  He taught me a lot of things, all by example.  About honor, about respecting others, about being true to your word, about the irrelevancy of odds and effort when you’re doing what you believe is right.  About forgiveness and compassion.

When I was an early teen, he saw that I was drifting towards “certain bad elements” and did his best to keep tabs on me.  When one of my less-proud moments came to light, I found I wasn’t the least bit afraid of the law nor did I care what my parents thought.  But the idea that I had disappointed Tony devastated me.  I bawled like a baby when I apologized to him, even though he wasn’t at all involved in the incident.  He waited until I was done, patted me on the thigh, smiled, and simply said, “Don’ be sorry. Jus’ be safe.”

When I was sixteen, he had a stroke and lost the ability to speak.  It didn’t seem to impact his English skills too terribly and had no effect on his daily neighborhood interviews.  There’s something to be said for the expressive qualities of Italian hand gestures.  His wife eventually had a brain aneurysm and died instantly on the bathroom floor.  I was in my late teens by then and the only one of my clan still in the neighborhood but I was at work.  He hollered and gestured out the window for help for over three hours before somebody called the cops and they came to investigate.  It wouldn’t have helped my aunt any had I been there but… that took a toll on him, which took a toll on me.  He was never the same after that.

My cousin, then a “spinster” in her mid-fifties…. Well, I won’t speak ill of her because I can’t imagine what she was going through but I don’t know what the fuck she was thinking.  She put Tony in a nursing home.  Each of my siblings and I begged her to let him live with us.  Nothing doing.  And it was worse than the fucking dog pound.  Every time I’d visit him, he’d start putting on his slacks and fedora and I had to explain – again – that he had to stay and I wasn’t taking him home.  I was a nineteen year old kid and screwed up in my own right but to this day I am shamed to my soul that I stopped going to see him because those scenes were just too hard on my heart.  Whatever I may have accomplished in my life since then, I will always consider myself a coward for that.

The nurses loved him and, even nearing the century mark, he was doing his best to return the favor.  Hardly a year later, though, he was gone.  They said he was in the best mood ever, had a nice dinner, flirted with them (hand gestures only, mind you), waved goodbye, closed his eyes and just died.  They said he was still smiling when they took him away.

A few years later, when my cousin drank herself to death, I flew back out and helped go through the apartment.  There wasn’t much I wanted.  Just one thing, really, since the knife had already been spoken for.  And now I have a trunk in my basement and at its bottom is a very small-headed fedora.  It’s seen better days but that’s okay.  It’s not for wearing anymore.  It’s for looking at.  For talking to.  For confessing my weaknesses and recounting my proudest moments.

I am now a forty-year-old man and have led, I suspect, a far different life than Tony had, with a lot more time spent in shades of moral grey.  I have eschewed an urban environment for the quiet privacy of suburbia and the quasi-rural.  And I have little use for a watch of any brand.  But I have a reputation for being garrulous and gregarious and am well-known at the shops and restaurants I frequent.  And I remember – and actually care about – all the small details of the lives of the people there as well.  I know the busboy, Brian, spent seven years in the navy; that Melissa, the barrista, is fluent in Russian; that David, the manager, is studying to be a doctor and is a volunteer medic at night; that Devon runs a girls’ lacrosse camp in Florida every summer; that Steve wants to move to Oregon with his wife to make a clean break and start over.  I am trusted because I listen well and take great pains to keep secrets hidden, even when revealing them would hurt only others rather than myself.  And I have involved myself in people’s problems because it was the right thing to do, even though it may have cost me much and profited me nothing.  And I carry a simple, rather sharp pocketknife – among other things – with me everywhere.  But I only wear a fedora on this website because I am not much of a hat guy.

I do sorely miss a man that was, though.

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ANDREW NONADETTI is a writer of fiction and, until recently, a deceptively charming but manipulative and abusive sonofabitch. To his surprise, though, there seems to be a genuinely good man hiding in there as well. And he's a quick study.... Feel free to email him at [email protected] to discuss his novel, life in general, terminal ballistics.... Pretty much anything, really. He's kind of gregarious and a big geek about a range of topics.

136 responses to “The Man in the Fedora”

  1. Judy Prince says:

    WAIT—-I haven’t even read this yet, but you are Anon?!! Our very own TNB Anon? Our dogfood-eating Anon?

    [now calming down] OK, now I’ll go back and read your piece, Anon.

    Mercy mercy mercy will wonders never cease? What’s the world coming to? Just goes to show you can never be too careful.

    Anon—-where will we find another agent for M16? Jeez, at least you coulda let us know!

    Musta been the doghouse that made you a bit wild.

  2. Anon says:

    Indeed, I am. Brad has apparently had a brief lapse in judgment for which I am quite grateful.

  3. Judy Prince says:

    This was a 3-weep piece, Andrew—which considering it’s not a novel, is awesome in what it means for the power of your narrative.

    It’s a damned good “laffs-between-the-weeps” story, as well.

    Tony lives, and I thank you for that. A part that’s both laff-making and weep-making:

    “You could tell the seasons by the length of the sleeves and how many buttons were undone. You could also tell the time of day by his seated activity. If he was sitting in the kitchen, reading the newspaper, having espresso and a single slice of toasted Italian bread, it was morning. If he was sitting in the dining room, having espresso with a few fingers of Sambuca, it was mid-morning. If he was siting in the livingroom, watching a baseball game, having a Miller Lite (I worship him, so I forgive this) and a slice of prosciutto on a single slice of untoasted Italian bread, it was noon. If he was sitting in the dining room, eating like a longshoreman who’d just come off the Bataan Death March and washing it down with more espresso and Sambuca, it was five o’clock. I usually had to go back home before I could see what he was eating and drinking to denote bedtime.”

    Dogfood definitely agrees with you, AnonAndrew! And OMG—-another Siciliano on TNB!!

    • Andrew Nonadetti says:

      Thank you, Judy (suppose I should be all official now in my responses). I could think of more amusing initial topics but none more deserving or meaningful to me.

      • Judy Prince says:

        Indeed, Andrew. The writer’s inner selection process is rather like a half-knowing haze that gathers and gathers, and then clears and focuses. After that, there’s no doubt of the topic.

  4. Slade Ham says:

    I haven’t read this yet. I’m about to. But let me first say:

    Yesssssssssssssssss! It’s about time.

    Going to read now.

  5. Joe Daly says:

    Anon (or do you prefer your other, lesser-known name now?)-

    I was blown away by this piece. This is the reason I came to TNB- because of pieces like this. Can’t believe this is your inaugural voyage. What a story.

    Laughed out loud at Tony being baffled that he couldn’t give wine to a seven year old. There’s something about the old school that makes them so endearing. Maybe because they’re a bridge back to a time and sensibility that we’ll never see again. Anyway, a beautiful dance between how you describe him and how he made you feel.

    Thanks for putting this out there. Made my day.

    • Andrew Nonadetti says:

      Thanks for the kind words, Joe, and feel free to call me whatever you wish. It all comes to the same Inbox (;.

      I find myself mulling over your comment about never again seeing those times and sensibilities. Things are only truly lost when we chose not to find them. Granted, we have moved away from much ignorance and cruelty but… there are things worth preserving, too. And, as a father of two small children, I am very conscious of my opportunity to perpetuate or perhaps even revive some of them. Perhaps someday I’ll even have something written fondly about me….

  6. Zara Potts says:

    ANON???Is that you ANON???? Oh My goodness!! I’m so excited!~!! Right, off to read now…

  7. Becky says:

    Goddammit, they’ll let anyone work here.

  8. Becky says:

    After my Grandpa died and my Grandma’s mind started to go, they put her in a nursing home. She was only there about a year before she died. I was 17 or so. I was traumatized by the decline in her faculties, the slipping away of her personality, couldn’t bring myself to go near her towards the end. I was totally terrified.

    Never visited her; never even saw the place until she died and we all went in there and sat with her dead body for hours while we figured out what to do. I was driving then, and was the first to volunteer to go get coffee, McDonalds, take my younger cousin to the mall and wander around to give her a break from the heavy stuff…I was still avoiding my poor grandma, even when she was dead.

    At the time, I was just coping, but now that I’m older, I’m pretty ashamed of it.

    On the upside, your chin is much slimmer than I had imagined.

    • Andrew Nonadetti says:

      It’s funny. Shame seems to sharpen with distance from the event, doesn’t it? And, after all the times I’ve preached to others to let things go and forgive themselves…. Ah, well. “Those who can’t do”, right?

      Your spots still look lovely.

      • Becky says:

        Aw shucks. You sweet talker.

        I was notoriously bad at coping with death as a teenager. When my grandpa died I cried hysterically in the back room at his visitation for the WHOLE THING. So, like, 4 hours straight. I was 14 or 15.

        People (including my grandma) kept coming and checking on me to make sure I hadn’t hyperventilated and passed out. That sort of thing. I’m better at it now. Calloused and cold, I suppose.

  9. Becky says:

    Also, it JUST donned on me why you chose “Anon.” I’m so smart.

  10. Slade Ham says:

    What a wonderful portrait of the man, Anon (I’m gonna have a tough time calling you anything other than Anon, btw). I have similar memories of my grandfather. It’s amazing how these men from our pasts seem to have trademark items, clothing, etc, that are inherently them. Tony’s fedora for instance – no one seems to do that anymore.

    He made his own knife AND bit someone’s ear off? Fuck yeah.

    Welcome aboard, my friend. In an official capacity, I mean.

    • Andrew Nonadetti says:

      I’m rather partial to Anon myself, after all the time spent here. And that’s my favorite story about Tony. I’m picturing Signore Happypants, as he always was, grinning lightly as some towering goon threatens him, then saying, “Yeah? Hang on a sec. I gotta go make something for you. Be right back.”

      Thanks for your welcome, friend.

  11. Nathaniel Missildine says:

    This piece is deeply great in so many ways. Thanks for sharing all this, it’s worth eschewing anonymity for.

  12. Zara Potts says:

    Dearest Anon,
    What a beautiful piece. You drew Uncle Tony so tenderly.
    I love your descriptions of your early years – I could see and almost smell your descriptions.
    I wish I had an Uncle Tony of my own.
    Welcome (officially!) It’s so great to have you here. And I must agree with Becky – your chin is very fetching.

  13. Irene Zion says:


    What a tribute you wrote to a wonderful man!
    I can see him walking down the street, talking to all he passes.
    I feel his caring for the people around him.
    You were only 19, Andrew, think about it. It’s a rare 19 year-old that even goes once to a nursing home, regardless of who is there. It’s just too sad. It takes seasoning, growing, learning and a certain strength that even adults don’t always attain. Cut yourself some slack.
    Think about the pleasure you gave him by looking up to him as you did.
    Think of all those years that you were the kind of person who he would care about.
    He would be so proud to hear this story.
    Read it out loud, so he can hear it.
    I’ll bet he’s listening.

  14. Dana says:

    That was absolutely beautiful. You just sent me tripping down a memory lane filled with gone-but-never-forgotten friends and relatives. Some with hats. 🙂 Thanks.

    Nursing homes and how teenagers deal (or don’t) with them. Ugh. I think about 95% of us have been there, and still hold some shame about not visiting enough or saying the stupidest thing…

    And an aside; after reading many of your comments over the past few months I was certain you were at least 60. Ha. So congratulations on still being on the south side of AARP. 😉

  15. Jude says:

    The MAN can write! (Never doubted it due to your many entertaining comments). What a wonderful debut piece – I loved this.

    Uncle Tony still lives on – your memoir has bought him alive, and what a fascinating character he is. And the way he died – well that has to be one of the best ways of dying I have ever heard. I loved that he waved goodbye, I loved that he was still smiling when they took him away.

    On another note, I understand how you’re feeling about Tony being in the nursing home (we call them ‘rest homes’ in NZ) and being unable to continue to visit him. I had an aunt in a rest home, suffering with Alzheimers, and after visiting her a few times, my heart couldn’t take it any more either. When you see someone you love in such a place and where you feel so utterly unable to relieve their suffering, sometimes walking away and remembering them as they were is the only thing you can do. And like you, I feel anguish every time she arises in my memory and I see her sitting there in that god-forsaken place.

    I look forward to reading more Anon…

  16. Andrew Nonadetti says:

    Lord, is this what I’ve done to other people’s Inboxes? 😀

    Let me try to sum up:

    @Zara: Thank you on all counts, dear. And you may not have an Uncle Tony but you will forever have a Cousin Anon, which is a close second.

    @Irene: I took on a lot of responsibility – and had more dumped on me against my will – early on in life and it’s always left me with that sickeningly inescapable “woulda/coulda/shoulda” syndrome whenever something has gone wrong. Or someone has simply gone. I know in my head that you’re right but, as stubborn as that stone block is, my heart is worse. But it’s eased over the years. And I know he’s heard it and smiled, wherever he is. Thank you so much.

    @Dana: HA! There are times I feel significantly older than that, let me tell you. I’m happy I could bring back fond memories.

    @Jude: Thank you and I agree – the man’s exit was as classy and “Tony” as it gets. I should be so lucky. And I shall do my best to oblige you – I get a little chatty, as you may have seen. 🙂

  17. Lorna says:

    Anon…. uh, Andrew,

    What a touching portrait you paint for my eyes to read. Isn’t it funny (not funny haha, but funny coincidence) how being a part of the TNB family led to your Gravatar wearing a fedora and finally writing this amazingly moving piece?

    Being a latch key kid myself, this truly touches my soul. Your Uncle Tony reminds me much of my Grandpa. He was a wonderful people person, the best story teller and the only positive male influence in my life. We’re lucky life gave us someone to teach us the right way.

    Thanks for sharing. I gotta go find my box of tissues.

    • Andrew Nonadetti says:

      Amen (that’s agreement, not yet another “A” name), Lorna. And now, it’s on us to keep those lessons going.

  18. Don Mitchell says:

    Damn! Can’t even give the ritual Welcome to TNB, because you’ve been here a long-ass time.

    I confess to having wondered why, since your comments are so well-done, you stayed a commenter.

    I’m glad you didn’t. This is gonna be fun.

  19. Matt says:

    Let’s see here….I had a rough, unstable childhood, habitually carry a pocket knife (the Victorinox Swiss Army “Soldier” model I’ve had since I was a Scout) and from time to time wear a fedora. I’m detecting a pattern here…..

    I had no equivalent of an Uncle Tony, though.

    And after reading this, I really wish I did.

    • Andrew Nonadetti says:

      Sorry, brother. Like most people, I’ve only realized how lucky I was the longer he was gone. After today, though, he feels a bit closer again and, knowing him, he’d have no problem “adopting” you, too.

  20. Irene Zion says:

    I love you, Matt.

  21. Erika Rae says:

    This piece was…it was fantastic. I’m feeling a little choked up. You’re a natural writer, you are, and I’ll bet Uncle Tony is smiling down on you. Or up at you. Or across from you. No, *through* you.

    Can’t wait to see your novel out in print.

    • Anon says:

      Thank you, dear, on all counts. As for the novel, first I need to add about another eight thousand words, then get it published, then you can see it in print. Hopefully. (;

      • Judy Prince says:

        Eight thousand words is not that much, Anon. Your biog encourages us to ask about your novel or anything else at you blog, but how about my asking you here? How has it been different from crafting this piece about Uncle Tony, for example?

        • Andrew Nonadetti says:

          Ack – meeting in two minutes followed but lunch so I’ll be more verbose later. Short version: Both are the same in that I had a tale to tell and I told it. However, it is less difficult to tell a story to your satisfaction than it is to take that story and stuff it full of filler that, while still entertaining, never “belonged there” when you connected your fingers directly to your heart and mind.

          More much later this afternoon….

        • Judy Prince says:

          Incredible, Anon, that you hit the nail on the head: “…..to take that story and stuff it full of filler that, while still entertaining, never “belonged there” when you connected your fingers directly to your heart and mind.”

          And yet, don’t we (all or many writers, that is) want all of the book to be “the story” and not simply “filler”?

          One thought: We get a great idea for the core story or for a chapter or two, but we worry we can’t fill up the rest of the book with more great ideas, so we re-frame our minds from creative to hackneyed. Truth is that it is impossible to lack creativity, but it is probable that if we don’t really believe we’re creative then we struggle and sometimes give in to hackneyed.

          I look forward to your verbosity (hope it’s not from the doghouse, but, then, that might be a nice quiet, if small, place in which to create!).

        • Andrew Nonadetti says:

          You are quite right (at least in my limited experience). And that, I think, is why it feels more laborious right now – I’m trying to add filler that is still quality and still “belongs”. I keep feeling along the walls, probing for soft spots, so I can insert something that, while not originally meant to be there, will still fit seamlessly and will reinforce rather than buckle the whole structure.

          I will neither confirm nor deny the doghouse thing, given that this URL is also bookmarked on our home computer (;. I will gently observe, however, that there is a fine line between being verbally supportive and interrupting, which is why I stay up an extra two hours after the family turns in at night.

        • Judy Prince says:

          Nice metaphorical description of the process, Anon.

          Some thoughts not yet connected:

          1) Reasonably, we tend to fit our writings into length and form limits. If I’m doing a poem, my creator and editor selves cooperatively understand that they’re aiming for no more than 30 short lines. Fact is that I might’ve researched for days on the topic—-as many days as I might for an article or short story. But the poem-me will distill it to fit my expected form and lines limit.

          2) Again, reasonably, one would think, “Right, but that’s short stuff. You don’t have to figure out the events and actions of 2 major figures over a period of months.” Quite right.

          3) Sometimes I’d ask students to write about what happened at some precise 5-minute time within the hour before they’d come to class. Some would say, “But Ms. Prince—-I didn’t do *anything*!” My response: “You’re always doing *something*; you’re observing or listening, or thinking. That qualifies as *doing something*.”

          4) We know about a novel that has detailedly documented one day’s happenings. Was it more or less difficult to write than a time-strung book?

          5) What we most want to write about is what we’d be wise to write about. That might mean raking ourselves and/or others; hence, we hesitate and often reject the idea. We then think, oh but this is Fiction! I can hide myself behind Way Different From Me characters. Prob is that the reader thinks you ARE all your characters, especially the main one.

          6) Since you can’t hide, then, you try to limit yourself, censor your revelations, prune out the truly embarrassing stuff. And you’re left with a dumb book.

          7) If we loved your Uncle Tony, will we love you as a major character?

          8) Yes, because of—-not despite—-your flaws and stoopidities.

          9) Why?

          10) Because you remind us of ourselves and we are grateful to know that our stoopidities are like your stoopidities, and that we might be lovable, as well.

        • Andrew Nonadetti says:

          Well documented Ms. Prince (;. Sadly, I have only a whopping fifteen minutes in which to reply and hydrate before the next bit of corporate mindlessness.

          Your #3 was excellent and made me laugh. I play the “what do you see, what do you hear” game with my daughter as we lie in the backyard. Remain absolutely still and don’t move your head. Tell me everything you see. Now tell me more. There is always more. Then move but remain completely silent. Tell me what you hear, as you hear it. Now tell me what direction it came from. Now tell me the sound behind that sound. I do it more to promote situational awareness but it’s good training for life in all regards.

          Personally, I would never censor my my flaws. First off, they’re fun. I revel in them. My scars have stories. Second, we can never repair what we ignore. Insecurities should be explored and put to rest. Finally, we never hide things as well as we think. We always have tells. Knowing and embracing what yours are allows you to selectively let them be seen to misdirect anyone paying too close attention.

          Before I was even done with the first draft, I allowed a friend to read it. He replied, “I liked it but, if I had to offer a criticism, it’s that the main character is too intense. I got the feeling he might surprise me at any moment and do something unexpected and unpleasant.” It irked me, not because he didn’t care for the character, but because that used to be me and isn’t anymore. I sometimes miss being a beast instead of pussycat.

        • Judy Prince says:

          R U sure you’re not 547 years old, Anon?

        • Andrew Nonadetti says:

          Actually, I’m not entirely certain. I once asked my soul rather pointedly and it was so offended that it refused to talk to me for a week. We’ve since made up but I swore to never be so rude again.

  22. Tom Hansen says:

    Great piece. I too am in my forties and had a childhood not unlike yours. Must be something to do with that time period and socio-economic level. My guy I looked up to was Bob the janitor of my junior high school across the street.

    • Anon says:

      “Must be something to do with that time period and socio-economic level.” Heh. It’s great to be a kid. You don’t notice what you’re going through and only get perspective in hindsight. The Seventies sucked, economically. But I had cereal and TV so what did I know about it?

  23. Simon Smithson says:

    Anon makes the team! Fuck yeah…

    Jesus. He made his own knife? That’s at John Rambo levels of hardcore.

    Sounds like a tricky childhood to get through. Sorry to hear it, man.

    • Anon says:

      Hey, this was a generation that canned their own meat, put their own pets down, made gin in the bathtub and punched you in the mouth without worrying about civil rights lawsuits if you were rude. Maybe knowing how to make your own knife isn’t John Rambo hardcore so much as not knowing how to is totally wussy and we’ve all been wussified without knowing it!

      Brother, if you think anything I described above was tricky, I’d better not post any of the scary, scarring stuff (: – you’ll never visit! Seriously, though, thanks. As I mentioned in my reply to Tom, you don’t know what you don’t know, right? When you grow up immersed in shit, it doesn’t really cross your mind that there places in the world without (so much of) it. I had no idea how many of my dysfunctions weren’t “normal” until less than a decade or so ago.

      • Simon Smithson says:

        Pffft. Bathtub gin? I sneer at it.

        Toilet sangria, on the other hand…

        But I digress.

        This is why I happily shoot my mouth off about the need for a parenting license. When you’re a child you don’t have the necessary filters to block out the at-times-truly-horrible shit that family and parents (who can be just as damaged) shoot into your headspace. And that shit stays, man.

        I believe Dylan Moran said it the best…


  24. Greg Olear says:

    A Non. Your name. Ha! I must confess, I didn’t see that coming.

    Like you, I am half Italian, although my half is my mother’s side, so no one realizes it. I knew people like Uncle Tony…except the ones I knew were Napolitan, not Sicilian, and they drank anisette, not Sambuca, and when they said “da black,” they pronounced it “da block.” They were short, they were methodical, they always dressed up, they were gentle as hell, they wept at wakes with uncanny emotion, but there were stories about back in the day, when they engaged in shall-we-say intense activities to right certain wrongs. And they were all terrified of nursing homes — the nursing homes in Italy must have been awful. I miss all of those guys.

    This is a moving tribute, and I look forward to more pieces. Welcome to the other side of the comment board, Mr. Nonadetti.

    • Anon says:

      I’m a clever bugger. Sorry :). Say, uh… I always say you shouldn’t ask a question unless you’re ready to hear the answer but… you don’t have any northern Irish blood, do you?

      Regardless, thank you for the warm words and welcome, Greg. The view is lovely.

      • Greg Olear says:

        I am forever being mistaken for an Irishman, but there is no apostrophe in my name, which is pronounced OH-lee-ar, and is a truncation of the Slovak Olejar. (There is also an accent on the “a” but I don’t know how to replicate it here without cutting and pasting from Word, and I’m too lazy for that). I have no Irish blood at all, that I know of; the one sliver of me that is from the UK is Welsh…one of my great-grandfathers was named James Erwine. Or James Irwin, if you will.

        Your name looks, at first glance, like it should make cool anagrams. Does it?

        • Andrew Nonadetti says:

          Okay, I can see I’m going to need to get my shit together re: logging in and using the correct email address. Apologies, there.

          Your Italian relatives sounded so familiar that I just wanted to make sure there wasn’t some sort of weird, Twilight Zone commonality going on. I haven’t a clue about the anagrams and, while I haven’t been drinking (a wine with dinner doesn’t count), I am pretty damned tired and still have writing to do so I don’t expect to experiment tonight. Tomorrow – when I should be in another five-hour meet-a-thon – I shall see what I can come up with.

  25. I don’t have time to read the other comments, so maybe someone else already said this, but I think you have a great character for a novel here. Or a fictional memoir. Or something. Actually, your whole life would make a great novel. Have you fictionalized any of this yet?

    • Anon says:

      Ha. All memory is fiction, Jessica. But… I hadn’t considered using Tony in that way. He was too real to be fictionalized. Me, however? Yeaaahhh, welllll, maybe a few characters have been shamelessly spawned from various stages of my life. (;

  26. Richard Cox says:

    Welcome to the fold, A. Nonadetti, and what a fantastic piece right out of the gate. I have to say, as I read this it unfolded cinematically to me, a piece equal parts culture and setting and the portrait of a man. I was really blown away, even though I just sat down to read after four games of pickup basketball and before a shower.

    I must confess, though your bio pic is still somewhat anonymous, that I pictured you far differently than you look. Assuming that’s you.

    What a treat to read your first post!

    • Andrew Nonadetti says:

      Thank you kindly, friend. And yes, it’s me. Or at least about 56% of me. Ish. I’m curious, now – how did you picture me? I mean, besides the whole upper cranium thing.

  27. Richard Cox says:

    I knew you would ask me that. Well, here’s the thing: It largely has to do with denial. All your talk of “I have a family” and “I live in the suburbs” and “I’m nearing 40 and rapidly softening” had me picturing a sedentary sitcom dad. And old.

    Not having a family, I often and conveniently forget that this is my last year in the 30s. I don’t know why I can’t get that through my head. I think of 40 and I picture an old guy, not me in eight months. My dad at 40 looked like an old man. I wear vintage tees and trendy jeans and go to my bars with my buddies and talk to girls in their 20s.

    Like I said, complete and utter denial.

    • Richard Cox says:

      P.S. I would feel worse about flirting with younger girls except Kristen is dating someone seventeen years younger, so around here I take that as a sort of “Get out of jail free” card. Bahahaha.

      • Andrew Nonadetti says:

        One of my brothers just turned fifty-five. His girlfriend just turned thirty. He started off bragging a lot. Then he started inquiring about Viagra. Now he just complains that he needs to do more cardio and actually worries that she might want another booty call before he can take a nap.

    • Andrew Nonadetti says:

      Heh. Yeah, I talk to girls in their twenties, too. I tell them to go put on more clothes and turn down that damned rock and roll music. (;

      I do have a family and I do live in the mostly suburbs but I guess “rapidly softening” is relative to my former “fighting shape”. Given that my diet consists mostly of alcohol, caffeine, sugar and meat, I’m really not doing all that badly.

      Another friend of mine is all of four days younger than I. We had lunch last week and laughed wryly at all the definitions of “a forty-year-old” that we have somehow failed to achieve. Good and bad. It does make me feel a little more sympathy for my parents. They were in their mid-forties when they had me. There are times when I’m ready to fake my death to escape my infant son’s demands now! Yeesh.

  28. Jordan Ancel says:

    This is such a wonderful insight into the the “old world” of how people took pride in their neighborhoods and the people who inhabited them, and how we as a culture have moved so far away from real respect and honor of those who led simple yet extraordinary lives.

    Who takes that kind of interest in people any more? Who lives with real honor anymore?

    What a beautiful portrait you’ve painted of someone you hold in such high regard, someone who affected you so deeply that you live your life in a similar way.

    This makes me nostalgic about my childhood, growing up in a New York City neighborhood on the East Side where everyone looked after each other. A neighborhood where I could leave the house alone at six years old and wander around safely because my grandma and mom knew all the shop owners, who upon my passing by would say hi to me and made sure I was looked after. Those were the days…

    I find myself enamored with Uncle Tony.

    Thank you for writing such a lovely tribute to not just a man, but a whole era.

  29. Good to put a name to the hat… I suppose. Actually, you were Anon for so long it might be easier to keep you that way…

    Great story, anyway. “Bit off a… ear.” Good lord. That’s an essential component to any thoroughly detailed life story.

    And back to the hat… One of my friends just posted several messages across Facebook, demanding the return of a fedora. Coincidence? I used to wear hats when they helped me get laid, but once that fad wore off, I stopped wearing them.

  30. Simone says:

    Anon, what a great piece. I really enjoyed reading this.

    Almost had me in tears at this part:

    “His wife eventually had a brain aneurysm and died instantly on the bathroom floor. I was in my late teens by then and the only one of my clan still in the neighborhood but I was at work. He hollered and gestured out the window for help for over three hours before somebody called the cops and they came to investigate. It wouldn’t have helped my aunt any had I been there but… that took a toll on him, which took a toll on me. He was never the same after that.”

    This piece makes me wish I had a “superhero” figure during my childhood.

  31. Andrew Nonadetti says:

    @Jordan: Thank you for your kind words and for the “instant return on memory investment”. Your questions, though, demand an answer. Who does? I do. Or I try to. I bet you do, too. In fact, I’m sure a lot of people do and a lot more want to but think it’s somehow a bygone thing. Silly to think they can revive all sorts of retro fads but won’t consider doing the same for retro values. To paraphrase Ghandi (mostly to try and goad Becky, because she’s fun): “Be the Uncle Tony you want to see in the world.”

    @David: I am actually quite fond of “Anon” myself. I thought it was a bit clever when I came up with it and it’s much easier to type. Feel free. Oh – and I know nothing about a hat. Seriously. Your friend needs to stop asking about it now. Seriously.

    @Simone: Thank you as well for your comment – I can think of few finer things to see than the words “I really enjoyed reading this”. I’m sorry you didn’t have such a character as a child but, you know, the next best thing (as I’ve commented above) is being such a character as an adult. You never know whose life you may unintentionally shape for the better.

  32. Megan says:

    Benvenutti…from out of the shadows. JMB & I were Anon for a couple years too. Feels good to come out but also a little sad somehow.

    You pay handsome tribute to Uncle Tony here. And I had a writing teacher who told me if you didn’t have a difficult childhood you can’t be a good writer. So.

    • Andrew Nonadetti says:

      Grazie mille, Megan. And not so sad, really – as illustrated in my bio pic, only a small part of me has become “unAnon”. (;

      “If you didn’t have a difficult childhood you can’t be a good writer….” My God! I’m going to be rich!

  33. Cheryl says:

    Wow! This is such a great portrait of Uncle Tony. I add my gratitude to the many thanks you’ve already received here for sharing this. It would have been nice to have had an Uncle Tony in my family; or even in my neighborhood. I also like what you said in the comments about “being the Uncle Tony you want to be in the world.” I like!

    Anon. Andrew. Anondrew? You’re real! Nice to know there is a real fedora in your life, and that contains such deep and loving meaning.

    Although your comments are always entertaining and fun, it’s nice to to see you all legit with your official post. I can’t wait to read more!

  34. Tawni says:

    How clever is your “Anon” handle? I giggled when I saw your full name and put it together. Props to your brain.

    I really enjoyed reading about your Uncle Tony and the story behind the fedora. What a perfect introductory topic for your first TNB piece. I’ve always enjoyed your comments, and look forward to reading more of your excellent writing.

  35. Andrew Nonadetti says:

    @Cheryl: Yes, I’m real. Well, relatively. There are days when I question that but if an illusion is convincing enough, I suppose we can call it real (:. Yup – all legit now and very much looking forward to contributing more than just comments. I figured it would be a requirement for joining the island cult we’d been discussing….

    @Tawni: My brain offers its thanks for the compliment. As do I.

  36. angela says:

    yay, anon!

    i loved this. i laughed! i cried! no but seriously, that image of your uncle tony putting on his hat and pants every time you came to visit is heartbreaking.

    really looking forward to reading more of your essays.

  37. D.R. Haney says:

    First, apologies that it’s taken me a while to read this. I’ve been on a bit of an Internet fast.

    Second, I now feel faced with a dilemma: do I refer to you as Anon or as Andrew? I’d prefer the latter, if I may. It feels more personal.

    Third, I really liked the piece — which is standard TNB etiquette, to say such things, but I assure you it’s meant sincerely. I was a latchkey kid starting at the age of seven, and the section about Uncle Tony in the nursing home really tore me up, bringing back memories as it did of my grandmother in a nursing home. It killed me to visit her there. I don’t mind saying that I would break down in tears every time I went. Same with my brother. We’d still be crying, hours after we left.

    I never had an Uncle Tony in my life, but they don’t really exist in the rural, or in any case small-town, South, where I grew up. In big Eastern cities, though, I see guys like him all over the place; and in Europe, forget about it. The closest thing I had to an Uncle Tony in my childhood was my maternal grandfather, who commanded a lot of respect at the barber shop, where he’d carry on about politics in his red-state way, and all the other geezers would nod in agreement at his every uttering.

    “Yep,” they’d say. “Uh-huh. That’s exactly right. Them Russians and Chinese are in cahoots; they’se just pretending like they don’t like each other.” Etc.

    • Andrew Nonadetti says:

      First, no apologies are necessary in the least. Second, you may call me whatever you wish so long as I actually know you are referring to me. Third, I apologize for dredging that up for you but I’m glad you enjoyed the piece. And, finally, just because you don’t like each other doesn’t mean you can’t be in cahoots. Many careers, governments and marriages are based on that principle.

      Good to hear from you, friend. Don’t know if you caught the comment in Slade’s last bit but I’ve tried Jameson’s and found it not to my liking. You are first in the running for the remaining 748ml, should you want it.

      • D.R. Haney says:

        I did see that exchange with Slade, though I’m not sure how I did, what with the 10,000 other comments. But you got the old stuff, right? I’ve tried the twelve-year-old, and for some reason I didn’t like it as much as I do the regular Jameson.

        Which is not to say that I would turn down your offer, by any means. I’ve owed you an e-mail for a long time. I’m just saying that I think I can understand why you wouldn’t have been crazy for the bottle you have. Then again, you have much more sophisticated taste than I do.

        No apologies necessary for the memories your piece stirred, of course. In fact, I meant what I said as a testament to the piece, but I’m sure I didn’t phrase it in such a way that you’d know that.

        • Andrew Nonadetti says:

          Ah, Lord. Now I have to try “regular” Jameson as well as Bushmills. May have to rework the old food-&-booze budget. And I wouldn’t necessarily say I have more sophisticated taste, merely different preferences. Should we ever cross paths, we’ll have to have a decent scotch tasting.

          If I might be forward, you seem awfully hard on yourself lately, my friend. Some of your comments seem to be skirting the line between amusing self-deprecation and maybe not-so-joking self-abuse. Or maybe I’m just getting all mushy and sensitive in my old age. How’s life treating you?

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Not so well. But enough of that. And thanks for your concern. I think I do suffer from low self-esteem, which I probably see as befitting the low esteem in which I feel I’m held by the world. Then, too, I think I’m always trying to make certain that people don’t take umbrage at things I say online, where misunderstandings proliferate, which may account for my commentary style.

          But what I said about sophisticated tastes, I’m sure, applies, since I’ve never given that much thought to what I drink or eat, which was what I meant in my comment to Liz Collins a few minutes ago. If I had money, I would think about it much more, no doubt, and become something of a snob in such matters, though probably never a connoisseur or a so-called foodie.

          Meanwhile, honestly, I wouldn’t bother with Bushmill’s. I don’t think it’s very good.

        • Andrew Nonadetti says:

          Well, since I’ve already opened the door on offering unsolicited opinion anyway, allow me to offer one more. Finding that the world holds you in low esteem should not support the notion that they are right, it merely confirms the notion that the world is populated primarily by ignorant fools. I have been intentionally offended by a wide variety of professional offenders – you need never worry about about accidentally bruising my inner child, friend. It’s an inner-city child (; – it can take a lot of abuse. Write what you will without a second’s thought.

          Ah! Forgot to mention I’ll trust your judgment and avoid the Bushmill. Just need to find some “regular Jameson” to give it a fair shake. And I’ll pick up the tab on the tasting.

        • Jude says:

          Duke – in reply to your comment, “which I probably see as befitting the low esteem in which I feel I’m held by the world”.. then may I declare now that I’m not part of the world, for most certainly I hold you in such high esteem my friend.

          I agree with Anon, that the ‘world’ is absolutely and unequivocally inhabited by fools and idiots who wouldn’t know talent if it slapped them in the face! Thank god for TNB… and thank god for you!

        • Andrew Nonadetti says:

          Behold, Duke – the World within the world!

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Ah, that’s such a sweet thing to say, Jude. Thank you. But you’re very definitely part of the world, and thank God for it — and you.

          And thank you as well, Andrew. (Do people call you Andy?) It’s not so much a matter of being offended as being ignored, I’d say at this point. But enough. My inner stoic is kicking in — I do have one — and I have, as always, much writing to do.

        • Andrew Nonadetti says:

          I can honestly say I don’t ever recall being called “Andy” or “Drew”. And I probably should have formatted or worded things a little differently – I was referencing your comment “I’m always trying to make certain that people don’t take umbrage” when I mentioned the whole offending thing. Merely letting you know you can be off-the-cuff with me, if no one else.

  38. Quenby Moone says:

    Well, well, well. Look what the interwebs dragged in!

    Andrew. Much better. And you’re in CO, so I know the lay of the land around your current haunts, being an old Boulder-Denverite growing up. Just like that–Not Anon!

    Glad to see the veil lifted, if only above your chin. I love Uncle Tony and am sorry for his ignoble end. This is what I aspire to avoid at all costs with my father, though it’s painful to read about at all. I’m glad you had a Tony when you had little else; and I’m glad that he taught you all the righteous nobility of the old country by example. Good on him, May He Rest In Peace.

    Lovely to see you. I’m not around too much these days, but I’m glad I peeked in for a look. This is an event not to miss!

    • Andrew Nonadetti says:

      Thank you, Quenby, although I prefer to think of it as “semi-Anon”. Given the state of the economy, I thought perhaps I could use this as a source of backup income – generate a buzz, reveal just a little bit as a tease, then hold a fundraiser. For every x number of dollars received, another inch of veil is lifted and/or dropped, depending on your angle (;. Peek in again soon and know I’m thinking of you and your dad.

      • Judy Prince says:

        Would you take a cheque, Anon?

        • Andrew Nonadetti says:

          Heh. Sorry – I have a cash-only policy, although I’ll make exceptions for precious metals, precious stones and single-malt Scotch whisky (Highland preferred but I’m willing to go with Speysides for $0.85 on the USD).

        • Judy Prince says:

          I think the envelope of flea powder pretty much ought to earn The Agency I mean me an unveiled inch or so. Me and some other folks are taking bets that you pluck your eyebrows.

        • Andrew Nonadetti says:

          Oh! That wasn’t “flea powder”, was it? Explains why the dog was so hyper the past few days.

          Pluck my eyebrows?!? This is Becky’s doing, isn’t it? Look, just because I appreciate a good wine, eschew ragged cuticles and enjoy classical music…. Pah! Whatever. Had I gone with my runner-up bio pic, you would know.

        • Judy Prince says:


          Oh, right, Anon, play the coy one. We wanna see your runner-up bio pic, pronto!

        • Andrew Nonadetti says:

          Ha. Well, upon closer examination, the pic doesn’t really show all that much of my eyebrows after all so it’s a moot point. No need to share, then. (;

        • Judy Prince says:

          Anon, let’s face (!) it—-you’ve shaved off your eyebrows and pencilled in new ones.

        • Andrew Nonadetti says:

          Nice try but you’ll not goad me into it that easily. I did manage to get them blown off once in a small explosion during my lonely, misspent youth. More the lashes than the brows and they grew back thankfully quickly. Still… *shudder*

  39. Zara Potts says:


  40. Judy Prince says:

    101! But who’s counting? 😉

  41. Andrew Nonadetti says:

    Ha. Hey, are there prizes when you reach certain numbers? Because I’ll make an off-the-cuff and poorly argued comment about religion or throw out some vaguely naughty and risque comment to get folks giggling about sex stuff. We’ll be at five hundred by Monday.

    • Zara Potts says:

      I say mix up some religion and sex.. that should do it.

      • Andrew Nonadetti says:

        Wow, that combo almost comes pre-mixed, doesn’t it? The former, when done incorrectly, can’t seem to stop screwing things up and the latter, when done properly, results in exultations to God…. 🙂

        • Zara Potts says:

          Nice one, Anon. Have I told you lately how funny I think you are?

        • Andrew Nonadetti says:

          You may very well have but all these completely undeserved compliments come at me so fast that they tend to blur. My apologies if I rudely failed to thank you.

  42. Andrew Nonadetti says:

    Say! Where did I go? I don’t know if I’ve been escorted off-stage or if I’ve screwed up my posting somehow while getting familiar with the place!

  43. Dude. This.

    This was amazing. So powerful. Long and elegant but at the same time concise, deserving of every word because all were essential to paint so convey so vivid an image. Hell, they say writing, good writing, can recreate life. I would offer this as an example.

    Sorry. I was going to make some comment about your having been previously anonymous and such, all that, but then I got totally sidetracked by your Uncle Tony. But then again, he always did have that effect on people, didn’t he?

    Also? Welcome.

    • Andrew Nonadetti says:

      Thank you, Will. That means a lot. I worried about the length – I do tend to go on – but… I had something to say and hoped I would be forgiven if I prattled. I’ll try to keep the next one light and short.

      Okay – light and shorter. 😉

      • Oh, dude, I hope you didn’t take that to mean I was saying to write shorter. Nothing wrong with length! I’m a novelist; I like length!

        • Andrew Nonadetti says:

          Hearkening back to the comments on the porn-star piece, it is better for a man to apologize for too much length than too little!

  44. Uche Ogbuji says:

    What happens while I’m away, eh?

    Cor Blimey! Corker of a first piece, Anon! Or should I say “Sono molto impressionato, amico.” Uncle Tony has come bodily off the page and is my Uncle, too now. Pass the Sambuca.

    • Andrew Nonadetti says:

      You, my friend, would be a welcome addition to the family. Thank you for the kind words and here’s your glass. Salute!

  45. Okay, Anon, I am just horrified that I missed this one for so long. Yes, as you said, seems we had more than a bit in common in our childhoods. It’s interesting, because I don’t encounter very many people in my life now whose youths were similar to mine in these particular ways. Uncle Tony would indeed make a vivid character in a novel or memoir. I feel a little bereft thinking of him putting on his pants to go “home,” and you, so young and having to deny him that, and the horror of old age, particularly, perhaps, for that breed and generation of man to whom family and neighborhood were everything: to end up, instead, in the care of strangers . . . he seems to have been a man who could make the best of it with the young nurses, and that’s something, more than something. You certainly did all you could have at your age. When my grandmother, who died in 1980 on Christmas Eve at the age of 90, was put in a nursing home 4 or 5 years prior to her death, it was really hard on our family too. She had lost touch with reality after losing 5 of her 7 sons, and in addition to harmless eccentricities such as hallucinating the Virgin Mary and putting out extra place settings for the dead at dinner, she had started leaving her oven on and nearly blowing up or burning down the house, and had forgotten how to speak English and thought she was back in Italy instead of in Chicago, where she’d lived since she was about 20. My parents didn’t know how to care for her–it was unsafe to leave her alone and we certainly couldn’t afford help and my mother didn’t speak Italian–so she went into a home, but she seemed happy enough there because her mind had already left this world for self-protection, and just as when she was home, she believed her nursing home was Italy and that she was a young girl. She sang a lot in Italian, and when I would visit I would dance for her and she would clap her hands and sing. When she was younger, she was a faith healer in our neighborhood–long before my birth. She also brewed hooch or something like it in the basement during Prohibition and sold it to the men in the neighborhood. Her circulation was so bad that she never left the house without her fur coat (I do not know how or why she had a fur coat) even in July, though she sometimes, it seems, went years without leaving her apartment, yet somehow food materialized there. My mother couldn’t let her babysit me or I would be wrapped in 7 layers of clothing, sweating and so bundled I couldn’t move. She was nothing like Uncle Tony, really, but this piece very much reminded me of her. Welcome to TNB in earnest. Very glad to have you here.

    • Andrew Nonadetti says:

      Someday – someday – you and I will sit down face to face and have a lot of long talks. I’ll buy.

  46. P.S. I agree that Bushmill is not that great.

  47. It is definitely a “someday” date.

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