By Maria Lagalante Schulz
Well, it’s been a year now since I set out on this blogging adventure. Unlike the way they depict it on television and in the movies, I have not been inundated with offers for the rights to my life story; no publisher has expressed any interest whatsoever in my book (yet); and I have gotten some interesting comments on stories that I thought were pretty funny.
For the most part, people (even strangers) have always been supportive. One or two have left me messages like “your writing makes me want to drink,” and “I can’t believe this really happened.” I’d just like to say to my detractors: my own writing makes me want to drink, and I can’t believe most of the things that happen to me on a daily basis.
That being said, in honor of this one-year anniversary, I am going to do a “Best of the Year in Tales of a Hungry Life.” You know, like those sit-com episodes that feature clips and a recap from the funniest, most entertaining shows.
This usually happens late in the life of a series, like in the 100th episode or when the show is running out of gas and there’s not a lot left to say anymore. I promise to do something much more special and revolutionary when and if I ever get up to Post #100, and believe me, there’s still plenty of hot air left in me.
Year #1: My Favorite Blog Posts
1) Let’s Eat: the story that kick-started this crazy little blog. It features the tale of my father, his best friend, Babe, and my Dad’s family. It also features projectile vomiting, peeing, falling, screaming, laughter, and more food than anyone could reasonably eat without succumbing to all of the above.
When I decided to write about my family, I chose to start it off with a story about my grandmother and grandfather for a reason. One, their wedding anniversary was April 7 (all right, I jumped the gun and published it on April 6 because I knew if I waited, I’d lose the nerve).
Two, while I never really knew my grandfather, and I sometimes depict my grandmother as a killjoy, I always felt their presence in our lives. My grandfather, by all accounts, was a quiet man who loved his family. And as for my grandmother, I always knew that that all five feet of her contained this towering strength that would go to the mattresses for us. She was the only person my father ever feared, and that was enough for me.
2) Chock Full of Nuts: there were so many funny things going on in this one: my mother burned me with her corned beef and cabbage and then almost caused me to go into anaphylactic shock with her cherry cheese cake; we went to the doctor’s office, which was always a hilarious endeavor; and then my mother tried to make it all up to me by sending my brothers and me out with the venerable Father O’Leary.
I’m still laughing just thinking about Paul giving Father those directions and “Himself” throwing me out of the car on the side of the road at 11 pm. Good times!
I ran into one of the kids who drove with us to the rectory in Westchester all those years ago. When I mentioned the good father, he cut me off and said, “I don’t ever want to talk about that man again.” So, I see he had a lot of fun with him too.
3) Summer Reading: I don’t know if anyone else enjoyed this one, but I am still giggling thinking about the three-way opera
that went on as my eighth grade teachers screamed at me because I was reading Lolita during Free Reading. Sister Felicity was always mad about something back in the day, and I got a private tour of the classroom closet whenever her anger was directed my way. Will there be more stories about her? I’d say that’s a safe bet.
4) James Garner and Fruit Pie: just thinking about all the ways that Jim Rockford made my Friday nights great for 6 years brought back so many happy memories. My twin brother, Chris, was amazed to learn that I’d liked him then and that I like him now. “I thought you just really liked the show,” Chris said. “I did,” I replied. “But I liked All in the Family too, and I didn’t have pictures of Carroll O’Connor hanging up in my room, now did I?”
5) Teachers Rule: everybody seems to remember his or her favorite teacher, and this blog post let me talk about mine. It must’ve struck a chord, because I even got a comment from Dan at Tostitos Reunite America asking me to post a comment, and possibly win a reunion with my favorite teacher. I could win a flight and a party and they would film the reunion. Now that would really be something. Except that none of my old teachers live more than 20 miles from me, and two of them are dead. But it’s a fun thought all the same and it was exciting to see that there really are people out there who read this blog!
6) I Like Candy: I get a huge number of hits on this post, probably because people do searches for almond joy, Charleston
chews, candy cigarettes, even Grace Kelly. It was fun taking a walk down memory lane and remembering the candy that made trick or treating such a joy. In fact, I wish I could eat an Almond Joy right now.
7) Coffee Can Be Hazardous to Your Health: really, any story that features my Uncle Don has got to make you laugh. I can still see him, standing on my parents’ front porch, hair tousled, tire marks all over him and coffee stains from his head to his toes. It’s one of my favorite memories. Some people remember the first time their relatives told them they were proud of them, or the day they showed up for your high school graduation and took you out for a special lunch. I remember my uncle after he tried to run himself over. Boy, do I miss him.
8) Love and Cookies: whenever I can talk about Moonstruck, my grandmother, my uncle and my parents at the same time, it’s a real coup. Rose could have been my grandmother while Johnny Cammarerie would have probably been my uncle. I love the way Loretta and Ronnie argue with one another. It reminds me of my parents, who argued about some of the most ridiculous things ever. Who takes the absence of socks in their dresser drawer that seriously? Who feels it is proof of greater love for your children than for him? My father, that’s who. What he failed to realize was that his kids were walking around in yesterday’s socks because we didn’t have any laundry either. My mother didn’t love us more than him. She neglected us all equally! Witnessing their daily dramas was all the education I needed to navigate the shoals of my own marriage. So what’s the key to marital success? Don’t worry about a little screaming. It’s like white noise. No hard feelings, and just make sure the socks are washed and in the dresser drawer in time for work.
9) The Best and Worst of Christmas: I always enjoy remembering when the biggest problem I had was being the proud owner of a “Dy-no-MITE” tee-shirt with Jimmy J.J. Walker’s face on it. That, and remembering one moment in time when my mother made me feel like I was important to her, even though she had a million other demands on her. I still think the idea of your worst Christmas present is a scream. People, please…if you had a terrible Christmas gift, leave a comment. So far, turafish is in the lead with a gift of football sheets given to him at the age of 27. The very worst Christmas gift listed will win the incredible prize of a Dy-no-MITE magnet. No fooling!
10) Back to School: when you compare my girls’ schooling to mine, you come away thinking that my kids have Mary Poppins as their teacher while I had Freddy Krueger. It always amazes me how supportive and friendly their teachers are, because I don’t remember the 5th grade being like that at all. But maybe that’s what happens when you’re hit in the head repeatedly with a yardstick.
11) New Year’s Resolutions: I am so tired of spending the last part of December being told how to “achieve my inner greatness” and “make a resolution that lasts” that I decided to only make resolutions that I can keep. So, I’m not losing weight, I’m eating more chocolate, and I’m not adopting any baby chimpanzees who will one day grow up to kill me, my family, and any friends who happen to stop by. The same goes for lions, cheetahs, snakes, alligators, and giraffes. Not that giraffes are dangerous, but my ceilings aren’t high enough, and I have enough problems keeping the people I live with happy. I don’t need any more complaints.
So, these are the blog posts that I enjoyed writing this year, and I hope you enjoyed reading them. Please let me know if I missed something, or if you’d like to nominate your own “favorite” from my 24 former posts. You can nominate this one if you like, but I have a feeling you’ll be in the minority. And if I agree with your nomination, I will give you an amazing prize. See #9, above.
Finally, when Hollywood does come a’ calling, I would really, really like to have a say in who plays my family and me in the movie.
Nonni: there must be a five-foot-tall Italian woman who is still one good looking mama at 80+ and who instills fear in all that cross her. She must be able to do the chicken dance and convey love beyond all reason for her eldest grandson. And at the rate that I’m shrinking, I may just be able to play the part myself in a year or two.
Uncle Don: there’s got to be someone out there who can portray a totally hapless, fun-loving guy who loves to dance, eat donuts and laugh. He must have great comedic skills. I’m not sure who to choose…any ideas?
Dad: I already know my father would get to play my father. He has told me repeatedly that he wants me to get famous already so he can finally bask in the spotlight that was meant for him all these years.
Mom: Catherine Deneuve can play my mother, since my father always had a thing for her. Or Terri Garr. I don’t think he ever had a thing for her, but I loved her in Young Frankenstein. Whoever plays her will need to wear a brown wig and have a sense of humor.
Jude: Steve Buscemi, as seen in Fargo, will play the part of Jude. Not because he looks like him, but because he reminds me of him when he’s screaming at his partner in crime “ARE WE SQUARE? ARE WE SQUARE?” It reminds me of the time my brother gave my Albert Alligator to his girlfriend, Cindy, and kept trying to talk me into how I was okay with that.
Tony : Here, I need casting help. Please offer up some suggestions. Kathie, who do you think should play our beloved Tony?
Louie: I would say Robert Duvall from The Godfather, Robert De Niro from The Untouchables or George from Seinfeld, although I think my brother is much better looking.
Paul: like my father, Paul will play himself. He and my father can relive old times when they played the two leads in Heaven Can Wait at the Colonial Church.
Joe: Vince Vaughn would be my first choice. And then maybe Zach Galifianakis, because I can see him changing into the wolf man.
Chris: John Cusack, of course. Or Steve Carrel. It depends on who’s available.
Maria: since I fully expect that this movie won’t resemble my real life in any way whatsoever, I would like Angelina Jolie to play my part. The resemblance is striking!
Of course, that means Brad Pitt plays my husband (naturally) and our children are played by that kid who stars in iCarly, Miranda Cosgrove and the other kid who plays in Wizards of Waverly Place, Selena Gomez. But only on one condition: Selena may not bring her boyfriend to the set. Justin Bieber is not allowed anywhere near my movie.
So, Hungry Lifers…do you have any thoughts on my past year in blogging? Want to nominate one of my posts for best of the year? Do you have some thoughts on who should play different characters in the movie? How about just liking me or rating me highly on WordPress.com or Facebook, and telling ten thousand of your closest friends?
By now, I think all of you deserve a drink. My brother Louie used to make these awesome Alabama Slammers back in his bartending days. Here’s a recipe:
Or, for you teetotalers, you can mix up a non-alcoholic punch for brunch, or right now if you like:
Enjoy, and thanks for reading!