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The Simple Annals of Vinnie Fanucci

The circumstances of my early life afforded me opportunities a wellborn boy might never have had. Not that I was poorly-born, but I certainly wasn’t wellborn either. Let’s put it this way, I was just…well…born – without being wellborn. My strained syntax has led some to label me a White Semanticist, but I consider myself more of a Grammar Cracker.  And I always thought a syntax was something you paid to the devil for having a little fun.

 

These are the size of the mirrors we glaziers worked with regularly at our family’s glass shop. 

More to the point, when I was a teenager working at my family’s glass shop, I was privy to a cast of colorful characters we employed from time to time. They ranged in temperament from the rowdy rascal to the lovable lug to the bastard biker. This clutch of inexpert glaziers were usually from the Italian Northside enclave of Syracuse. They all knew each other from high school and they also knew that Eastwood Glass was a quick way to transform themselves from hungover on a Sunday to gainfully employed on a Monday. This employment makeover usually was the result of receiving a call from one of their network of friends alerting them that Eastwood Glass needed a couple of guys for some jobs that Monday.

 

One of these bevy of factotums was Vinnie Fanucci. Mr. Fanucci…nah, that doesn’t sound right. No matter how many times you say “Mr. Fanucci” it just doesn’t ring true – it sounds like some kind of Italian undersea character featured on Sponge Bob SquarePants. You simply cannot have a “Mr.” before Fanucci and not think in terms of a cartoon character. While he wasn’t exactly a Mr. Fanucci, he was definitely a Vinnie – through and through.

 

Vinnie and his motley band of cohorts (Johnny Ventresca, Mike Procopio, Stewart Vendetti, Nicky the boxer, a fat guy named Tiny et al) all somehow made it through high school – probably because Principal Spadafora couldn’t stand the thought of having them back for another year and ushered them through the system. And since they weren’t in jail and were able to blink their eyes in unison, they qualified easily as potential Eastwood Glass Shop employees. Vinnie worked on and off for us in the late 70s and early 80s and enjoyed the casual barrier to entry into the workforce that Eastwood Glass afforded him. He was amateurish yet dogged in performing the skills of a glazier.

 

Vinnie was a streetwise guy, combining equal parts kindness and rowdiness. He suffered from strabismus – a misalignment of the eye whereby he’d be looking at you straight in the face, but he’d be describing something happening 30 feet down the street. His affliction is more commonly referred to as being wall-eyed. His visual defect wasn’t a problem, but it could’ve been. I mean it’s not like we were working with large and dangerously brittle panes of glass that could sever an artery or something.

 

Vinnie’s friendly Roman face possessed warm, endearing puppy dog features – like if Robert DeNiro had been born a Beagle. He learned his roughhewn ways on the street where I’m sure he also learned any Japanese tea ceremony etiquette he may have picked up.     Read the rest of this entry »