When I was growing up the Italian mob families in Omaha were alive and well. That was the reason you tried to stay out of South Omaha, your family had moved West if they could. Or least that’s what I thought at the time.
I dated two children of mob families, yeah, I was a bit naive. My parents were so very not happy. I won’t say the family names because well they’re still alive and kicking.
The first one was while I was in high school; I met him at a college party. Let’s just say he was dark and handsome, not so much tall. We hit it off immediately and I felt so grown up. He sent me roses – delivered to my school. My high school! Did I mention that I went to an all-girls Catholic high school? Yeah, the nuns and my Mom were very unhappy. Me? I was over the moon.
Well, I was promptly banned from dating him. I know my Mother had words with him on the phone. No cell phones in those days, they had to go through the gatekeepers. So with the dating ban strictly enforced that one fizzled out. And by the time I could legally drink, he was already unhappily married.
Many years later my Mom told me about having it out with Mr. Italian. Yikes! I would not have wanted to be on the other end of that phone when Mama Bear was protecting her cub. Love you Mom!
The second one was in college. I was at a good friend’s wedding. He was one of the first of my group to take the plunge – it was aided by a nine-month time clock and we pretty much never saw him after the wedding but that’s a different story.
This was the one and only time that I can remember letting a complete stranger, a Mom, set me up with her son – might have even been my first blind date. But Italian Mom was so nice, I was sure her son would be too. Did I mention that I had a date for the wedding? That should have been her first clue that this might not be a good idea. But Italian Mom plunged ahead, insisting that I meet her son.
I did. And he was handsome as sin with the attitude to match it. He had the tall, dark and handsome all going on. I was in college and he had been out of school for some indeterminate by me amount of time at that point. By the way, what is it with Italian men – do they not like women their own age?
What is it with Italian men – do they not like women their own age?
We dated. We had fun. I felt like property. He liked to be seen. He liked pretty on his arm. He lived in this cool loft in an old building in South Omaha. You know the kind that has old elevators with the gate that goes across – this was way, way before that was cool.
I was figuring out that this was not for me but what sent me running very fast out of South Omaha was stopping in with him at a restaurant one night. He needed to run in and talk to his Dad for a minute. Again no names but it was a South Omaha Italian steakhouse – I know that narrows it down for some of us.
There were a collection of older Italian men sitting at the back of the restaurant at a big round table in the corner. It was pretty dark in there too. Hot Italian went around to the back of the table where his Dad was sitting – they had a whispered conversation while all the other men stared at me. Did not talk, just stared.
I felt like a bug and I was scared. The fact that all their backs were against the wall facing the entrance did not escape me. I watch movies. That was our last date!
I think about those early days of dating where you figure out what you like, don’t like and I realize that I’m glad I kissed a lot of frogs before I found my prince. Made me recognize what I’d found!
So as hard as it is to let go and let my boys date their frogs, I’m trying. And much to their embarrassment now that they are in the dating world my Momma Bear is coming out and, oh yeah, I’m going to be overprotective as hell too, just like Mom taught me.