My first night back in Bluffton always means that we get to go out to eat for dinner. This time, Papa insisted we go to Bada Bing’s, a small Italian restaurant that I believe he fancies only because he likes saying the name.
This seems silly, but he’s like this. For instance, there is a restaurant in town called the “Squat and Gobble.” My mother hates this place, but every time we entertain the notion of going out for a meal, Papa has to suggest Squat and Gobble. He gets a happy grin on his face every time he mentions it.
Last night was no different; even though he’d already decided we were going to Bada Bings, he felt he needed to once more give me the history of Squat and Gobble:
“The Squat and Gobble has everything you could want, but it’s run by Greeks. Why they don’t just have a greek restaurant, I don’t know, but the food is good. Bada Bings is good, too. You’ll like it. But the owners are Jewish.” He laughs at the disparity.
“An Italian restaurant run by Jews?” I ask.
“Yes, and it’s pretty good. In fact, we may have some Jewish ancestors. I believe there is a Jewish community with our name in Montgomery.”
“If people don’t guess I’m Italian, they ask if I’m Jewish,” I shrug.
“Me too,” Papa says, “and I tell them I’m half Jewish.”
“Why do you say that? We have no evidence of any Jewish ancestors.”
“I tell them I’m half Italian and half Jewish– what I can’t steal, I get wholesale.”
Dad laughs uproariously at his little joke and I roll my eyes and try not to laugh.
“Papa, tell me you don’t really tell people that!” I try to sound exasperated, but I can’t help but chuckle at the way my father is simultaneously promoting the stereotypes that all Italians are Mafioso and all Jews are cheap.
“I do,” he nods, clearly pleased with himself. “And the best part is, they’re never sure if I’m telling the truth or not!”