WHEN IN ROME

Name?” the incredibly bored girl working at the pizzeria asked me indifferently. It was clear she’d rather be doing anything other than doling out food orders. She gave a cursory glance at her clipboard.

Nancy” I replied hoping my order had been received.

No kidding?” the suddenly animated young woman said loudly, slapping her hand on the counter and grinning broadly. “That’s my grandmother’s name! You don’t hear that name much these days. What year were you born in?”

It wasn’t really any of her business but I reluctantly told her anyway. This was a new place in my neighborhood in Rome, New York so I tried to play nice.

Get outta town!” she exclaimed, startling half the people in the place. “Same year as my grandma, too! What are the odds?” she cackled.

I gritted my teeth at the public announcement that I was as old as this girl’s granny. “Little twit” I said to myself.

Well, Miss Nancy, your food ain’t quite ready yet. Just plop yourself down in one of those booths and I’ll bring it over.”

Plop? I may be old enough to be this bimbo’s grandmother but I definitely do not plop!

I found an empty booth, slid in and looked around the pizzeria. There was a hideously unappealing statue of a she-wolf suckling Romulus and Remus, framed photos of Frank Sinatra, Pope John XXIII and Christopher Columbus. On the far wall was a large mural of a ship with “Nina” emblazoned across the bow – no doubt an homage to the restaurant which was called “Nina’s Place”. The decor was tacky and stereotypical.

There was a sudden pounding on the back of my seat and I turned around to see two toddlers bouncing around their booth, a sullen child of about four years of age, a crying infant in a carriage and a woman, obviously their mother, at her wits end. Food, spilled drinks and toys were everywhere. The woman looked at me, her eyes pleading “Kill me now!” I half-smiled sympathetically at her.

I thought about changing seats but just then the pizza girl arrived with my food.

Here ya go, Fancy Nancy! One caprese salad with grilled chicken and a Diet Coke. If you don’t mind my saying so, you look really good for a gal your age.”

I blinked a few times, unsure if I should say “Thank you” or “Kindly go the fuck away”. I chose the former which she took as an invitation to join me as I ate!

So, anyway, my grandma – she’s named after Frank Sinatra’s song ‘Nancy With the Laughing Face’ ” pizza girl said, pointing to the photo of the legendary singer. “Are you, too?”

No, I’m not. It’s a long story” I explained.

Ooh, I love me a good story! I wanna hear all about it. But first I gotta make sure Mr. Rizzo doesn’t cheat me outta my tip, that old miser! Be right back, Nance.”

I cringed; only a select few called me by my nickname.

Take your time” I replied. It looked like it was going to be a long lunch. I really should have ordered the wine!

NAR © 2021

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