This list consists mostly of things that my grandmother or my mother told me. But if you ask my mother she will vehemently deny it and if you ask my grandmother, you’re probably a medium and that’s really awesome, but I bet she’ll still deny it. And if she doesn’t, she’s probably not really my grandmother and you should consult a priest as soon as possible because I’m pretty sure an evil entity is about to possess you.
Bleaching your mustache will make it invisible to the human eye.
I’m Italian but I’m like third or fourth generation Italian, which means that really I’m just an American with the ability to grow a freakishly awesome mustache, which wouldn’t be so bad if I owned a turkey farm or, you know, I was a guy.
By the time I was 10 I looked like Tom Selleck. And despite my grandmother’s best efforts, bleaching it did not make it invisible to the human eye. In fact, it made it glisten in the sun.
I’m not sure if she was trying to protect me from the pain of pouring hot wax on my face, or if we simply didn’t spend enough time outside together. Either way, I’d like to believe that she didn’t intentionally let me walk around looking like Magnum P.I. after he dipped his face in Sun-In.
Every time I mentioned waxing it, she’d wave her hand in the air, shoot cigarette smoke out of her nose and say, “It’ll grow in thicker!” Then coincidentally the Quaker Oats commercial would come on and I’d assume it was Wilfred Brimley’s mustache telling me to listen to my grandmother.
It wasn’t until a boy I liked asked me why my hair wasn’t as blonde as my mustache when I decided to risk it all. I started buying those at-home waxing kits that require a microwave, a popsicle-stick and an old sock. Though I’m pretty sure I didn’t read the directions because I can’t imagine any beauty product that would expect you to hot wax an old sock to your face. But that’s how I did it, every two weeks, until that one time when my mother found my sock and tossed it (probably because it was old and looked like a dead, balding rat). I ended up using a piece of gauze that I found at the bottom of the bathroom drawer. This was a terrible idea because it’s impossible to get gauze out of wax. For hours, hundreds of little three-inch threads clung to my lip and swung back and forth over my mouth. I looked like Confucius. By the time I chipped it all away, an allergic reaction formed under the wax and created a hivestache.
I probably should have listened to Wilfred Brimley’s mustache.
If your boobs itch it means they’re growing.
I swear my mom had me for entertainment purposes only. I can’t really blame her though because watching a tween-ager walk around in July wearing a wool sweater covered in itching powder and swearing that by tomorrow she’ll “definitely be a Double D” must be hours of fun.
Once, when I was eight, I became super obsessed with The Cosby Show and desperately wanted to be part of the family. So rather than disappointing me she assured me that I was really black and my freckles were just spots where the white paint wore off. I was oddly satisfied with that theory.
If pigeons poop on your roof, shoot them.
I think shooting at anything through an open apartment window in a crowded urban area as your five-year old begs you to “save the chickens,” would be considered a federal offense by today’s standards. But it was the 80s and my dad was a homicide detective with a totally legal gun so nobody had a problem with it—except my grandmother and probably the National Pigeon Association (it’s a real thing. Google it.)
I should probably mention that my parents got divorced when I was two so I spent a lot of weekends with my dad in his North Jersey bachelor pad. My grandmother hated it. In his defense, if you’re going to divorce a woman with an Italian mother and then expose her granddaughter to women, guns and dead pigeons you’re bound to spend eternity warding off the evil eye and trying to shake your reputation as the devil.
This must be how Luke Skywalker felt. I wonder if he had an Italian grandmother from Jersey.
People only drink iced tea in the summer.
My grandmother had a lot of crazy theories but this one made even less sense than the one about people with unibrows having some super ability to give people migraines because I imagine that if someone’s eyebrows are so thick that it’s hard to tell where their hairline begins you might stare until your head hurts.
In my house, it didn’t matter when summer actually began or when it ended or if we had a hot day in March. Iced tea was designated for June, July and August and I never questioned it. In fact, the first time I took a sip of iced tea in February I was almost 13! I remember how wrong and awkward it felt—like I was sneaking shots of Jack Daniels before Homeroom. Only it wasn’t Jack Daniels. It was iced tea and not even Long Island Iced Tea, which ironically may have been OK in my grandmother’s eyes and I wouldn’t have felt so guilty about it. Instead I probably would have just felt sick because Long Island Iced Tea is pretty disgusting. Especially when you down four of them before happy hour ends, then puke over a balcony onto some poor guy’s head and ruin your favorite shirt.
If you get your ears pierced on the Seaside Heights boardwalk you’ll get an STD.
Maybe my grandmother thought STD stood for something else like Sleazy Turd Danny because hooking up with a Sleazy Turd named Danny that I met while he pierced my ears on the boardwalk seemed way more likely than contracting a Sexually Transmitted Disease in my ear hole. Or maybe STD was exactly what she meant and they just did things very differently in her day.
Either way, she really did have a way with words. Once she couldn’t wait to see that movie starring Morgan Freeman and Jessica Tandy, Taking Miss Daisy for a Ride, which the rest of us know as Driving Miss Daisy.
When I was sick she’d take me to a walk-in clinic she called, “Doctors In Duty” which was really ironic because it seemed like there was a much greater risk of contracting an STD from a bunch of doctors with a penchant for sitting in doodie all day than by getting my ears pierced on the Seaside Heights Boardwalk.