Tonight I met a man who has danced with the devil. More than once.
Sometimes you meet the most interesting people in the most unusual places. Tonight, it was at Gino’s, a local authentic Italian restaurant. Nothing fancy, this place… but indeed the real deal.
How lucky was I to be served by the owner of this establishment. Imagine long dark thinning hair tied in the back. Muscular arms. Dark Skin. Heavy Italian accent. And a twinkle in his eye that says, “I am often up to no good.” That was the owner.
As you can guess, the conversation was colorful from the start. I can’t remember how it went from “What did you call in?” to “I was shot three times,” but the moment the shooting was mentioned I was caught hook, line and sinker.
I had to listen carefully to understand through the thick Italian accent. “I was robbed. I thought he was kidding….” I do not remember his exact words, but the story found my mouth wide open at the end. He could not get his gun in the back. He was unable to get to his car for a second gun. He was shot once in the head and twice in the arm.
And he didn’t feel a thing. “They asked me in the hospital if I knew what had happened. I told them, ‘Yea, I’m bleeding from my head, that’s all.'” From there came surgery, rods in his arm and scars to show off. Which he DID.
Then he described the time he was rear-ended. “There was a car on fire on the side of the road. I was coming up to the toll plaza. Someone hit me from behind. I don’t wear a seat-belt so I went through the windshield. Instead of going to the fucking car on fire, the police came right to me!”
There was a pause as he turned to his daughter and said, “You want your paycheck you find something to do!” With those words came a secret smile as he turned to me.
I said to his daughter, “You must have been terrified when he was shot!” She immediately agreed as he shrugged his shoulders and said, “It isn’t my time! When it’s your time, it’s your time. But it wasn’t my time.”
“It also wasn’t my time when there was an explosion in my face.”
“There was a gas leak. I lit a cigarette and there was an explosion.”
“It’s not my fuckin time!”
I said quite firmly in my MOM voice, “You DO wear your seat-belt now, correct?”
“Nah. But I tell you what. In Italy you can drive drunk and they don’t care. But you don’t wear a seat-belt… AND THEY GET YOU! So in Italy, drive drunk all you want. Just be sure you wear your seat-belt.”
I replied, “I didn’t know the pizza came with a show!”
My son and I left the restaurant with grins on our faces. Everyone has a story, but some have more than others. Today I met a man who has danced with the devil. And as I was told, it wasn’t his time.