Monday, March 13, 2006

My Grandfather on The Sopranos

Finally, I see the season opener... darkly funny. Well, that mostly sums up The Sopranos in general. In any case, tonight we saw Tony's uncle (Corrado "Junior" Soprano) further slip into dementia. One shot reminded me of my late grandfather.

Now, my grandfather wasn't demented, but I rarely understood a word he said. Maybe it was the way he mumbled his speech, or possibly he slipped from Italian to English, or possibly because he spoke fast, or possibly for some other reasons.

His friends called him Cookie... he liked to cook. His jaw stuck out a bit giving him an underbite. His hair was either always very short or he was bald, but his face often had a day or two of stubble. His eyes were wide... I think they bulged out a little, but certainly not like Marty Feldman. He hunched over a little and was thin, even gaunt. I think he chewed tobacco, and his aim at spitting was rather poor. He would chuckle to himself with a little crooked grin... especially at the sight of my sister and me or some of my cousins playing. He watched from a distance, never really talked much to us either... but I seem to recall that he enjoyed seeing his young grandchildren. At least that's what I remember.

If I think about it I can sort of remember his laugh. (Some of the grins and walks and shuffles and chuckles and even exclaimations from Badda-Toddler really remind me of my father and my grandfather... it's a real treat.)

I also can hear his characteristic grunt which served as a number of questions such as "what?", "where?", "who?", "what are you talking about?", "where have you been?", and "are you nuts?". All of that in a simple, "Eh?" In fact, not only did my grandfather do that, so did my grandmother, my father, my aunt, my uncles, some of my cousins, my sister, and my nephew.

Near the end of tonight's episode ("Members Only") the image of "Uncle June" made me think of my grandfather. The scene won't really work to show my son or my nephew and say, "Your great-grandfather sort of looked like that senile old man without dentures... the one who thinks he's shooting at an intruder in his house." I don't know if my grandfather ever owned a gun... and I seriously doubt he ever brandished it at a family member.

Oddly, I also remember seeing an animated film or an illustrated book (or slide show) in school of Poe's "The Tell Tale Heart"... the old man who falls victim to the mad narrator was drawn in a way that reminded me of my grandfather. Old, frail, shrunken...

This is rather unnerving... to have your grandfather murdered by a famous fictional madman as to have him shoot at one of television's most popular mob characters. (More reasuring is the laugh I remember.)


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