From My To Do List
By Carl Capotorto
fill it, my father had the bright idea of offering to throw pizza
birthday parties. So a poor, unknowing parent would book the place
for a Saturday afternoon and load in ten or twenty screeching eight
year-olds. Long before the first pizza was served (full pies at
the table were acceptable, by the way, just no slices) Cappi would
be throwing the entire party into the street. Again with the Ralph
Kramden: "OUT! ALL OF YOU! GET OUUUT!" My own tenth birthday
party ended this way when Johnny Appelbaum starting popping balloons
with a plastic fork. "THAT'S IT! PARTY'S OVER! OUT! OUUUUT!"
god we had a few regulars, like the Saturday night crew that Ann
Lazerta had been part of.
feast and party themselves silly. It was Ann and her husband Little;
Ann's sister Tessie and her husband Big; Rosie and a guy named Lenny
X (they were married too
only not to each other); a short
morbidly obese guy, I forget his name, maybe Vin or Vic, who was
missing an ear but had a big plastic one he'd plug in there for
formal occasions; and a couple of other characters who'd come and
go. They, to me, were the height of glamour. The women were all
in sequins and diamonds and they smoked cigarettes and had raspy
voices and husky laughs. The men wore shiny suits and chunky pinky
rings and reeked of pomade and cologne. Most of them were "connected."
Numbers-runners, fencers, that kind of thing. Furs and jewels and
electronics would "fall off the truck" into their hands.
My father was repeatedly offered "in." It would have made
his life dramatically easier. All he had to do was say yes. But
he wouldn't go near it. He had a powerful -- and immutable -- sense
of right and wrong. And what they were doing was wrong. Period.
wrong was our local movie theater, The Globe. Soon after Cappi's
opened for business (in 1965 or so) it became a porno house. Its
first offering was I Am Curious (Yellow). This enraged my
father and he began a neighborhood campaign to shut them down. This
very quickly expanded into a broader crusade against pornography
and before long he'd established The Committee to Control Obscenity
by Constitutional Means. I still have the letterhead. The address?
Cappi's. Yes, Cappi's Pizza & Sangweech Shoppe was the national
headquarters of The Committee to Control Obscenity by Constitutional
he wasn't flying up to Albany in his heavily-backfiring lime green
Cadillac (circa 1952, sold to him by Squeegee the bread man for
fifty bucks) to lobby members of Congress to add anti-obscenity
provisions to the US Constitution, Cappi was proselytizing from
behind the pizza counter. "How do you feel about pornography?"
he'd ask every adult male customer. This being the sixties, most
of them felt it was a matter of free speech, which really got his
goat. "Oh yeah? Is THIS free speech?!" And he'd flash
a picture of, like, a nun in a barnyard with her habit hiked over
her head being mounted by a farm animal. (He kept a store of particularly
egregious porn samples in a box under the counter for exactly this
purpose.) "Or THIS?!" And it would be, like, a super close-up
of some way-dilated bodily orifice being violated by an oversized
household object, like a vacuum cleaner hose or a decorative vase.
course, the people would be horrified. They'd politely explain that
while these images weren't their cup of tea, they didn't have to
see them if they didn't want to (unless of course they were ordering
a slice of pizza at Cappi's) and therefore the images had a right
to exist. This kind of bleeding heart liberal attitude really enraged
Cappi and he'd have no choice but to toss them out. "Well guess
what? I don't serve perverts here. Now get owwwwt!" Another
potential customer tossed out on his ass. I'd say one of three potential
customers of Cappi's Pizza & Sangweech Shoppe was tossed into
the street before even getting to place an order. We hung on this
way for about 5 years or so and then, mercifully, Cappi's was sold.
of years after selling the pizza shop is when my parents bought
the house. Which brings me back to where I started.
father died in 1998. He was 76 years old. The house was mostly done
by then but had fallen into bad disrepair. I helped my mother hire
a contractor who brought in a team of laborers and they accomplished
in two or three weeks more than Cappi and Bub could have done in
a year. It was cathartic. Nothing gave me greater joy than to walk
around the place and see it filled with workers
people working on that house!
My mother lives there still and I help her out a lot but there are
limits. I've developed a deep aversion to hard labor. I also have
a troubled relationship with To Do lists. I should learn to stay
away from them all together but somehow they keep popping everywhere.
Here's one I just found under my keyboard:
DO GROCERY SHOPPING
PICK UP DRY CLEANING
RETURN PHONE CALLS
FORGIVE FATHER FOR ENSLAVEMENT
UNDERSTAND THAT HE WAS HIMSELF ENSLAVED AND DRIVEN BY DEMONS
HONOR THE PAST
LIVE IN THE PRESENT
P.S.: Let. Go.
I don't remember writing that one.
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