Wednesday, July 28, 2021

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Joe's Neighborhood

An Italian mother


I want an Italian mother.

Don’t get me wrong, the wedding itself was heavenly. It flowed with a gracious ease that can be so elusive at many formal events. For starters, the handsome groom came down the aisle sober. A definite plus. Even his buddies stood by his side with no noticeable weaving from too much good cheer. Sobriety is helpful to distinguish a wedding ceremony from a night at the tavern. Although it is true that, for some weddings, a night at the tavern is best.

The bridesmaids entered without a glitch, all made up in long flowing dresses and fresh from the nail salon where they spent the morning being buffed and polished. The priest needed to give awards to the young women for not tripping over their dresses during the long walk. If it was me, I would have looked down that endless stretch of church and just sat in the back pew with my dress bunched at my waist and waved the others on, telling them I’d pick them up on the return. Which is why you should always bring a sandwich to a wedding, because you never know when you will be sitting in the back row with nothing to do.

The priest smiled at us all with no threat of hell’s damnation. This can be tricky. I know I deserve hell’s damnation, but I do appreciate when the priest doesn’t look at me and tell the congregation the direction my soul is going. He probably figured I was there on some sinner’s work-release program. That explains why my tie was so tight.

And the very young flower girl? Please. She entered dramatically and placed rose petals on the white carpet with careful deliberation and great seriousness. She was so careful and so serious that by the time she made it to the altar, her basket was still full of petals. I loved that about her. No throwing flowers willy nilly for her. If you got a petal near your pew, you deserved it.

Prep Iowa

The bride was beautiful. Radiant. Smiling. She made us feel honored to witness this grand event. But the long, gossamer train she wore? Clearly a device to punish her sister, her maid-of-honor, who had to leap and somersault and cartwheel to get the train to properly position itself after the bride stood or knelt or breathed too deeply. Our pew gave the maid-of-honor all 10s during the scoring portion of the event.

So, what can I say? The wedding ceremony was a grand success and in no small part due to the calm and watchful eye of the Italian mother.

But that is not why I want an Italian mother.

Later, the reception was held at a country club, thanks to the gracious Italian father. Back when I was a reverse snob, I looked down upon country clubs. Too much pomp and circumstance. A valet AND cloth towels in the bathrooms? Really? Has America come to this?

Now, as an old man, I love cloth towels. And fine china. And good food. And a swimming pool visible out the large, clean windows. I love luxury.

We milled about after the meal. Full and happy. Being curious, I saw a few people in a large back room. I went to investigate.

Yup, you guessed it. A table full of Italian pastries. All freshly made by the Italian mother and her Italian family and friends. All beautifully presented. And all for us.

I stacked my plate with every delicacy. I even started stacking some extras on my wife’s plate. She’s used to this bad behavior and merely rolls her eyes, suffering in silence. I don’t care.


And as my wife and I left the wedding after dancing and cavorting, the Italian mother, who I met for the first time that night, handed me and many other guests plates wrapped in plastic and stacked high with the delicate pastries.
I swooned.

So… I want an Italian mother. ♦

Joe Weeg spent 31 years bumping around this town as a prosecutor for the Polk County Attorney’s Office. Now retired, he writes about the frequently overlooked people, places and events in Des Moines on his blog:

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