My mother, ever the intrepid homemaker upon the once-a-year occasion that finds me in our house for three consecutive days, rose with dawn this morning to acquire the last few items on our Italian Christmas Grocery List. We do not make ham. We do not eat turkey. For us, Christmas is all about a inordinately large pot of gravy, some sort of homemade pasta, and upwards of a dozen eggs worth of scappels. However, since i left for school, Christmas has also been the chance for the two of us to collectively gorge ourselves on high-cholesterol Italian desserts. This was the reason Elaine was out of the house just after eight this morning.
While i am a cheesecake addict through and through, my mother tends to veer more towards pastries and chocolates. This year she decided that my jumbo-cheesecake would get the axe in favour of an equally massive tiramisu, and the bakery informed her that she’d have to arrive “pretty early” to secure a nummy liquor-soaked cake for herself. They literally told her that people would be lined up around the block before the subway started running; she took it with a grain of salt and got in the car during the back half of Good Morning America.
8:25 — “Hey, it’s me… i can’t believe you actually woke up this early. … Whatever. Listen, i’m just swinging by the pastry place and running some quick errands. … Yeah, i’ll be at your apartment by ten.”
Much to my mother’s chagrin (and my endless amusement), the line at Isgro’s was around the block … not only around the block, but nearly motionless in a dead-pan imitation of its ticket-line cousin i endured while flying last week.
9:30 — “Peter, hey, it’s me … i’ve been in line for about an hour. … You should see it, it’s a madhouse … I’ll call you before i come to pick you up. … Yeah, i should be there around ten-thirty.”
And, not only was this line packed to the gills with a cheery assortment of dietary die-hard degos who had the presence of mind to bring along folding chairs and thermoses, but it was being patrolled by a Mr. and Mrs. Claus — her with pastry samples, and him with a tray of Amaretto in tiny disposable shot-glasses. Furthermore, the local news was interviewing people up and down the line, kindly declining several offers of liquid warmth … via Mr. Claus as well as the crowd at large (who apparently came equipped). Did i mention it was about 43 degrees outside?
10:35 — “Um, Peter, it’s me … Yes, i’m still in line. … No, i can’t even see the doors from here. Santa keeps asking me if i’d like a drink. … Oh, no, I should be in by eleven.”
Upon her finally arriving (let’s call it @ twelvish) my mother had bought half our housecat’s weight in Italian desserts, and she blithely informed me that she was going to be on the noon and five-o’clock news, the latter of which she was taping at that very moment.
I skipped over the bit where i hid all of the liquor in my apartment so my grandmother could come up and see it (“Jesus, do you have enough steps in this place? I swear, i’d have a heart attack with all these goddamned steps.”), and also the bit where i got zero sleep to finish my mother’s freaking Christmas present that she had better appreciate.
Does anybody rememer last Christmas? I seem to remember it being cuter than this…