“I don’t want to go to a parent teacher conference. My daughters are all grown,” I said.
“Ray, it’s me, Big Carmen. I’m like your brother. In fact, I’m your bro. See what I mean?”
Yes, I see what he means. He’s certifiable. He’s two eighth notes short of a whole note. He’s a pizza without cheese, I don’t care how they make it in California. Yes, he’s Big Carmen. So I answer, “I see what you mean.”
He fist bumps me. Then he said, “I had a bro, but now I don’t have a bro unless you are my bro which use just agreed to, which means use accepted the family charter.”
“What family charter? Who was your bro before I was your bro. What happened to your bro?”
“Poor, poor, poor Roggereo. I don’t like to talk, speak, or converse about him,” said Big Carmen.
“Why?” I asked.
“The Feds might be listening and find out where we sent Roggereo until everything blows over.”
“He’s alive? You sent him somewhere? What did he do?”
“Let’s say I have my own witness protection operation. This is one of the perks use gets for being family. Now use is family. See, use is a Calabrese, that’s like being a next door neighbor. Neighbors help each other, right?”
He should have been a lawyer, a politician, he twists logic and words so that insanity makes sense. Thankfully, the conversation ends when . . .
“Do I look okay to go to Chef Vigeli’s for LC’s parent conference?” asked La Flor.
Big Carmen gives her a construction worker whistle, then says, “Perfecto beautiful, tough, and edgy one. Vigeli never seen a dish like use.”
I looked at La Flor. Okay, she wearing her patterned spikes. She’s wearing very short shorts but admittedly stylish, and her workout bra.
“What do you think, Ray?”
“Little Carmen will be happy to see you,” I said.
A half hour later we’re at Vigeli’s Culinary School. Little Carmen is off in a corner away from anything he might damage working at a table learning to make Kool-Aid. I hear him holler, “Clef, Clef, Clef, do I mix the blue and yellow, or the green and blue.”
Chef Vigeli hollers back, “No, no. no. How many times do I have to tell you, only make blue Kool-Aid.”
Chef Vigeli turns and sees the three of us. He walks over and embraces Big Carmen, Big Carmen embraced Chef Vigeli. Big Carmen said, “Chef, I suppose use called me to tell me how good he is doing. Am I right?”
“I do anything for you, Big Carmen. You gave me the money to get started. You paid off my student loans. You sent me to Rome to work with Chef Faloni, the greatest Chef in Italy. But this, this, this …
Big Carmen places his arm around Chef Vigeli shoulder, “Let’s me introduce use to some people. This guy with the nose and ears, he’s my bro. Use know what that means when I says he’s my bro?
“Okay. I understand. See, the beautiful, tough, and edgy one?”
Chef Vigeli stares at La Flor. His eyeball nearly the size of tennis balls. “Who is this beautiful, tough, and edgy one. Is she unattached?”
“She is La Flor, beautiful, tough, and edgy and LC’s so significant other. She is very proud of LC. And, I for one, or two, or make that three, I don’t want to her to be desensitized. I got that word from the Discovery Channel.
From the corner, “Clef, Clef, Clef I mixed green Kool-Aid with your 1964 Barolo Riserva Speciale. It was old so I knews use didn’t need it. I made an invention.”
Chef Vigeli fainted.
Big Carmen hollered, “Atta boy.”
La Flor said, “Grab two unopened bottles and lets split.”
I said, “What about the Chef?”
Big Carmen said, “Let him sleep, he looks tired.”