Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Peppi Marchello Sits Shiva
“So now I’m Joseph?” I asked.
“Listen,” said Pep. “I dreamed I was engaged to an infant and—”
“An infant?” I repeated. My lower back’s been hurting, there’s a touch of arthritis in my knees, occasional indigestion, flatulence after Chinese food. What do I know? Maybe the hearing’s going, too.
“Yes,” said Peppi. “An infant.”
“Probably nothing worth seeing,” I deduced.
Peppi coughed lightly, one of his two gestures. “She looks at me, the mother, and she says, ‘My husband and I insist—we want you both to live here with us. Right away.’ Right away? But we’re not married yet, I tell her.”
“Geez, you’re old fashioned,” I said.
“In my dreams I’m old fashioned. In real life I’m a prude.” Peppi wiped his nose, his other gesture. “So where was I?”
“About to commit a felony with an infant,” I said. Gilgamesh dreamed of axes falling from the sky. Peppi Marchello dreams of carnal knowledge with a weanling. So this is what it’s like to be a rock star. Or maybe just a rock star from Long Island. I mean, even Caligula had boundaries. I’m wondering what laws I’m breaking just by listening to this.
“Anyway, all of the sudden she’s not an infant anymore,” says the maestro. “She’s a beautiful young woman. You know how dreams are.”
“Ain’t it just like the night to play tricks when you’re trying to be so quiet,” I wax.
“So I turn to Gene, my son,” says Peppi, as if I didn’t know who Gene was, “and I say to him, ‘Hey Gene—am I nuts or is this a beautiful woman?’ And he says, ‘You’re not nuts, Pop.’”
“Charles Manson walks into a room and says, ‘Is hot in here or am I crazy?’”
“Do you want to hear this or not?” Peppi asks, interrupting my interruption.
“Continue,” I said.
“So the next thing I know her old man walks in and he says, ‘Look—I want to show you something. And he leads me down a flight of stairs to this new bathroom with six toilets lined up next to each other. No stalls or dividers—just six toilets. I look at him and said, ‘What is this?’ and he says, ‘We’re expecting a lot of people.’ And I said, ‘Wait a minute—I can’t live like this.’ And he said, ‘We’re Jewish. This is our tradition.’ And I said, ‘Hold on buddy—you’re not the only Jewish guy I know. I’ve never seen this before.' But he insisted. So I was in the middle of this dilemma. That’s when I woke up.”
“And for this you need a Jew,” I lamented.
“I can’t figure out what it means,” said Peppi. “I mean first the infant, and then the six toilets.”
“Okay, so why six toilets?”
“I’m really bothered by the toilets,” said Peppi.
“Shiva means seven,” I explained. “You’re missing a toilet.”
“That’s weird,” said Peppi.