Tag Archives: Italy

Roses are red, violets are blue, your family is crazy and so are you!

Like my rhyme? I thought it was clever. This past weekend was the beloved and ever-popular Lebanese Food Festival, hosted by the beloved and and beautiful families of St. Anthony’s Maronite Catholic Church in Richmond’s West End. It is a fun-filled weekend of eating, dancing, laughing, enjoying at least one thunderstorm, eating, and if you’re a parishioner, it includes chopping chicken, parsley, garlic, and other very ethnic and strong-smelling ingredients for the “white people” to consume. All proceeds benefit the church and a foundation which supports and cares for orphans in Lebanon. It is a noble cause, and a fab time.

Anywhoooos. This weekend had me thinking about My Big Fat Greek Wedding and how everyone thinks that movie is a joke. However, I’m here to convince you that the movie is completely fact-based and a truthful conveyance of practices, and is actually based on every and any ethnic family in the whole world. Let’s discuss.  [PS can we please check out the cast list of this movie? It is like an alliance of Greek and Italian mob members!]

1) Eat something! This is a classic line from MBFGW, said multiple times and in multiple contexts, but the most notable of these is when Toula tells her mother she’s in love with Ian: “But Ma, I love him!” To which her mother logically replies, “Oh Toula! Eat something!” And walks away. Eating is a common concept which heals all evils across many ethnicities. Anyone who has any kind of strong heritage will tell you it’s not a Greek thing, it’s a Polish thing! Or it’s an Ethiopian thing! Or even it’s an American thing! But I still maintain that no one does eating like the Mediterranean cultures (I am loyal to my main heritage, the Italians, and honestly think we are the best eaters but Lebanon and Greece come in close second). So while at the Lebanese Food Festival, I probably encountered some form of this “eat something!” mantra at least 4 times per each hour I was there. The most memorable, other than the times in which I was commanded to eat more, happened when I was sitting at a picnic table with another family. 3 elementary aged girls, their mother or aunt, and a grandfather. Not even sure it was their grandfather but in this place, it doesn’t matter. Every grandfather is a grandfather to every child. So he’s standing there, the girls are giggling and talking with each other and the mother, and on the table is a plate of un-eaten cheese pies. No one is paying these cheese pies any attention and suddenly Jiddoo (Arabic for “grandfather”) points to the pies and demands that the girls eat them: “Who’s are these? Eat them!” Which he then repeats in Arabic, lest anyone not understand his demand to consume. He subsequently walks away shaking his head. The little girls eye the pies on the plate and each take one and start nibbling with looks of boredom on their faces. It’s normal, the demand to eat, and with such good food, who wants to say no!?

2) Marriage and babies. Toula says in the beginning of the movie, “There are three things that every Greek woman must do in life: marry Greek boys, make Greek babies, and feed everyone.” At St. A’s, there is no “Lebanese School” and they don’t necessarily come right out and teach lessons like “If Nick has one goat, and Maria has nine, how soon will they marry?” But God help you if you are single! Singleness is almost a disease, and if you are single for too long, there’s something wrong with you, but it’s ok because Lawwwwd do they have a match for you! And you will make beautiful children, so why not! Yenta is a Jewish name, but an easily translatable occupation. Right? Of course right! In my family, Yenta’s name is Momma Sassy and all of Twin’s aunts.

Example: While at the festival I was, as usual, hanging out with/clinging to Twin and Mimi (Mimi is Twin’s actual sister and my non-sister, since I clearly am an only child by birth, but blessed with these ladies as my pseudo sisters. Love you girls) as we eat, walk around, watch the dancing, listen to the ethnic music, and carry massive bowls of parsley to and from the food booth. At any given moment, if there was an aunt around (similar concept to the grandfathers: she doesn’t have to be your aunt, but you still call her “Aunt” and she knows you like she is your aunt), she would grill one or all three of us about our love lives. “Twin! Are you seeing anyone? Have you met Anthony?” “Mimi! I know you’re dating that boy, but how serious is it? I have a friend who has a nephew who is perfect for you! Oh you’re related to him, that’s right…” “Miss Sassy! Haven’t seen you in forever, how’s your boyfriend!? Oh! You don’t have a boyfriend! Well…” *devious scheming look that only moms and aunts have* “Come with me, you need to meet Anthony!” Oy. A few things of note here: remember how everyone is named “Nick” in MBFGW? Everyone here is named Anthony. Also, everyone in the church is related. And if you’re not related, you marry into that family which makes you related. Which means that, luckily for Twin and Mimi, they are not available to most the young men in the church as there is some kind of familial tie which binds them and prevents another tie from being tied. I, on the other hand, being an adopted Daughter of Lebanon and not an actual blood relative, am available to pretty much every un-married young (or old) man in the entire congregation. I keep a low profile so as not to be noticed or set up. It rarely works, but I like to pick my own, thanks.

3) 40 first cousins. As I mentioned above, practically everyone at this church is related. There are something like 5 or 6 main families, and they are the oldest Lebanese families in the area and have been attending St. A’s forever since whichever Jiddoo immigrated from Lebanon. Every or most families make trips to Lebanon to visit family, and thoughts of shipping daughters back to the motherland to find a husband is not a joke. The families set up sons and daughters to marry each other and the family cedar tree grows. Twin and Mimi have something like 4 times the amount of first cousins I have, and the circle of 2nd cousins grows exponentially and in general is too difficult to keep track of. And if you find a “white person” to marry, they better integrate themselves into the culture because otherwise awkwardness ensues. Picture Rodney and Harriet Miller drunk from ouzo and saying no-thank-you to “Greek meat, very good!”

4) Family be all up in your business, 24/7. Lots of times this is not an ethnic thing. If you have a big family or even a small family, if you’re close, they likely know too much about you for your comfort. But again, it seems the Mediterranean cultures do this best. They are always together all the time, eating all the time, gossiping, and sharing in each other’s joys, sorrows, accomplishments, and failures, whether they like it or not. Sort of ties into point #2 about marriage and setting up every available daughter with every available son. Toula explains to Ian the complexities and annoyances of her family by saying, “…Everybody is in each other’s lives and business, all the time! Like, you never just have a minute alone! Just to think! ‘Cause we’re always together, just eating, eating, eating!” And this is so true, but it is also true that while at times we all sometimes just want to be away from all the ethnicity and maybe have a small family with 2 first cousins instead of 27, deep down you know you’d never trade them in. At the end, Toula admits she would never do such a thing: “My family is big and loud but they’re my family. We fight and we laugh and yes, we roast lamb on a spit in the front yard. And where ever I go, what ever I do they will always be there.” I have never seen any lamb roasting on a spit in anyone’s front yard, and at the festival I’m fairly sure they marinate the meat in something delicious and roast it in an oven instead of on a spit, but the rest of the line is accurate. All aunts are freaking crazy. If their kids are too young to date, they will live vicariously through whichever niece or nephew is closest and attempt to set them up with any decent looking halfway respectable boy or gal they know. And you can’t hate, because you will do the same when you’re an aunt with 3 kids in 10 to 20 years (we don’t want to rush these things – 30 is not an expiration date ladies).

Love your family. They are crazy in the head sometimes most all the time, but you are not alone. Every other person on the planet has some kind of crazy relative or family situation. And you are just as crazy as they are and don’t realize it. So don’t be a hypocrite. Plus, sometimes those aunts know some really cute boys, so maybe you should keep an open mind…

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Miss Sassy Pants for President! JK.

Let’s talk about…sex baby, let’s talk about you and me, let’s talk about all the good things and the bad things that may be…Ha, just kidding. Good song though. Anywhoooz, happy Friday! Today I am pensively contemplating (is that redundant?) a few topics and have finally settled on one for the day…get ready.

Since Wednesday’s SOTU by the great and honorable POTUS *cough*, I am enormously more concerned with the direction this nation is going. Just to be sure I don’t put myself at risk of sounding like a professional political analyst during the next few paragraphs, here’s another disclaimer: I’m not a professional political analyst. No worries – sarcasm, exaggeration, and of course sass will prevail. I’ll also add for the record that for the most part I write solely based on emotional reaction. Raging hormones I tell you!

Today’s emotional reaction is astonishment at stupidity, blatant disregard for fact-checking, disrespect, and twisting of scenarios to fit a political agenda. News flash: Americans aren’t retarded! Surprise! I would argue that most of us are capable of seeing through silly politicians’ lip service to ideas and new “policies” they think we want. I think someone should write a letter addressed to all members of Congress that reads something like this: “Hey dipwads, you can’t fool us, stop effing up the country. K thanks. Love, America.” Perhaps I’ll write it. Anyone else want to sign? I mean seriously, just because you stopped using the word “reform” for a little while doesn’t fool anyone. Also I’m thinking maybe another letter to our great and wonderful, bold and courageous, well dressed and excellent teleprompter-reading president. It might go something like this: “Yo, Pres. Swallow your pride and check your ego. We don’t appreciate you yelling at us and telling us we are going to get health care whether we want it or not. That’s called dictatorship. K thanks. Love, America.” Ok so it’s a work in progress, whatevs. But seriously. What happened to honesty, being in touch with your people, and airing everything on CSPAN so us regular kiddos can see what the heck is happening? It’s ok though, maybe you forgot about that particular promise. No biggie. There were so many I guess it’s hard to keep track.

Yesterday I went to lunch with some older coworkers and was discussing retirement plans with one dude. You could say he is one accurate stereotype for the middle class – middle aged, been working for this here company for about 15 years, married to a school teacher, zero kids (congrats), belongs to a gym which he frequents daily at 5am (insane). He was pissed when the market crashed because his 401k lost ridiculous value. In the past year he’s gotten a little more than half of it back. Not too shabby. He admitted to me that he was raised Republican and traditionally has “Republican values,” however in the last election he voted for Obama (surprise!), and is now vastly disappointed (surprise!) in what has happened since BHO’s term started. I guess he was thinking he’d get “change” and “hope” for his dwindling retirement account. Sike. I swallowed the numerous variations of “DUH” and “YOU ASKED FOR IT” that came to mind and kept my opinions to myself, saying something neutral like “Yes, well, we will see what happens next.” He’s my superior after all, I don’t want to be fired for my political opinions. Car payment people, car payment.

But really, we will see what happens. I don’t want to be super cynical and honestly don’t think we’re quite flushed all the way down the toilet just yet. In the toilet for sure, but maybe not flushed. I have to admit though that every day I read something like this or this (don’t even get me started on that second one…do we really want this guy hanging out in a US court? In a jail in America’s homeland? Admit it, he’s scary. And he hates you – yes, all of you, so why should we cut him any slack!?) I want to immediately move to some other country. Yes, America is great and free and not socialist (yet) but Italians have better food, cheaper wine, and prettier countryside, plus more Catholic churches where I can find the man of my dreams for whom I can cook and clean (come on, that’s funny). Meantime, I slave away in my cubicle in Corporate America, hoping that the new taxes and regulations (which ones? I don’t know, pick one) won’t affect my employer in an averse way so I can keep my job and my car and my livelihood. Cheers to wishful thinking and “hope” that someone gets it right. Soon.

Stay tuned for an update on my move to/life in Raleigh…it involves a daily 8am meeting starting next week for which I am super excited! Woohoo early mornings!

Have fun in the snow this weekend kiddie-poos! I’ll be driving the dirty Mini Coop following the plow truck to NC.

Mother Russia is not Sassy!

Buon Giorno, and happy gloomy Friday to everyone. Miss Sassy Pants has had a very uneventful and boring day at work, but is thrilled for one reason: it’s pay day. YES. This doesn’t necessarily mean anything in particular, just that I like checking my bank account and seeing the number be a little bigger than yesterday. No I am not going to Nordstrom, stop judging. Because the weather has been so gosh-darn terrible and gloomy this week, Miss Sassy Pants has been feeling very un-sassy. It’s not good! As a result, I have been uninspired to write about anything. Yes I am switching between 1st and 3rd person a lot. Get over it.

That all changed about 10 minutes ago when I came across a hilarious little news article from the BBC: Democracy ‘not needed’ in Russia.  Apparently citizens of Russia think democracy is silly, and think it’s an unsuitable type of government for their country. Oh really?! Well perhaps we should flashback to the days of good ol’ Stalin! He was a real winner.  Poverty and persecution for everyone! Despite this, they still love him.  I don’t get it. This is so NOT sassy. “He killed my ancestors for no reason, but I think he’s the greatest country-man ever to walk the frigid tundra of Mother Russia!” That is not a direct quote, but I derived it from the article. Did you also know that the people of Russia are fined now if they are caught cursing in public??  Something close to $33 per occurrence.  Wow. Also another ridiculous notion: Russia admits that Iranian nuclear power poses a threat. Ya think?? Nah, no biggie. I think it’s quite alright for a country that’s practically ruled by terrorist organizations to have bunches of nuclear bombs / the capacity to make them.  Totally fine.  Let them eat cake.  This is also not sassy.  Anywho before I get carried away…

A more positive newsy article that totally blew my mind! Remember when you read Angels & Demons and then ran to the movies to see the epic film? And then you went to Rome so you could follow the path of illumination?!?  Oh wait, maybe just Miss Sassy Pants did that. [It was cool but not as dramatic since I was stopping for gelato pretty frequently and there was not an award-winning score of music playing in the background…also Cardinals were not in danger of being murdered at that time. Still I enjoyed seeing the fountains.] Ok well remember the part about Cern and that particle machine thingy that could basically duplicate the big bang? And then the creepy guy had that glowing light thing that exploded? That was weird. Well guess what! The particle accelerator machine thingy exists! Duh.  Clearly I knew that.  But I love this article because they are talking about duplicating the big bang as if they’re playing with legos. Super cool.  Modern technology continues to blow my mind. Particle accelerator = very sassy.

On another newsy related note, I’d like to express that Miss Sassy Pants loves the BBC and the way they report news about the US.  Also they have this cool thing called Week in Pictures and Day in Pictures. Really neat photos from around the world – some happy, some depressing and sad, but all a neat way to get a snapshot of what is going on in our world! It’s sassy to stay in formed people!

On that note, happy Friday! AND shout out to Poppa Pants!  Tomorrow is his birthday!