Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Sound of Music

I was spending the day with Ma, waiting to hear the results of a procedure Dad was having at the hospital. Ma was sitting on the settee under the picture of Auntie Rose. I was sitting opposite Ma and flipping through a Martha Stewart magazine.

"There she goes again," Ma said with an irritated edge to her voice.


"The music."

"What music?"

"Don't you hear the music?" Ma looked at me as if I was dumb as well as deaf.

I concentrated. I could hear the ticking of the clock in the kitchen, the refrigerator gurgling, and if I listened real hard, the roar of the highway. "I don't hear any music, Ma."

"You mean to tell me you can't hear that? She does this every single day, all day long. It's driving me crazy."

"Who?" There isn't a soul around the neighborhood. Everyone works.

"She must have a Victrola, and she plays those records."

"What kind of songs?"

"Dirty, Italian songs."

I might have half believed her if she had said that jungle music you used to listen to as a kid. I laughed. "Ma, who around here would be playing Italian songs? Let alone dirty, Italian songs. No one is Italian."

"Come sit with me and then tell me you don't hear the music."

So I crossed the room and sat on the settee next to Ma. She watched my face expectantly.

I shook my head. "Sorry, Ma. I only hear the clock and the refrigerator.

The only part of the Italian language I ever got a handle on were the swear words. Ma and Dad only spoke Italian when they didn't want The Brother or me to know what was going on. No mistaking swear words, and usually you knew what was going on because you were at the bottom of it or soon would be. So if there were Italian swear words to be heard, I knew I'd be able to pick up on them.

I tried to get Ma to tell me the songs she was hearing, but she couldn't quite put a title to any one of them. We used to have a couple of records by Italian singer Lou Monte. He sang a few of the old favorites like "Eh Cumpare." He sang a couple of funny songs a mixture of English and Italian like "What Did Washington Say When He Crossed the Delaware." It wasn't a dirty song. Ol ' George laments the fact that it's wicked cold and he must have forgotten his mudandies (long underwear). The Brother and I enjoyed the song about Pepino a mischievous mouse who eats Lou's cheese, drinks his wine and scares the mudandies off his girl.

Ma hearing voices is sad and funny at the same time. Dirty, Italian songs. I suppose it's a blessing she's hearing them. She could be hearing voices telling her to kill those who can't hear the music.

If you want to sing along with Lou, here are the lyrics to Pepino.

Pepino, oh, you little mouse
Oh, won't you go away
Find yourself another house to run around and play
You scare my girl, you eat my cheese, you even drink my wine
I try so hard to catch you but you trick me all the time

Cesta no surecillo a basoccella dinda mur
Ogna sere quella esce quanda casa scura
Endo dindo la cucina balla sulasu
A parrano malandrino pura un gabo sapaur

Pepino suracill ana parta scubari
Managa suracill a casa ma dai
Stasira da cucina nu poco di vino ci au lasciar
A quando si briaggo a Pepino giong apa

The other nightI called my girl
I asked her could we meet
I said let's go to my house
We could have a bite to eat
And as we walked in through the door
she screamed at what she saw
There was little Pepino
Doin' the cha, cha on the floor

Pepino suracill ana parta scubari
Managa suracill a casa ma dai
Stasira da cucina nu poco di vino ci au lasciar
A quando si briaggo a Pepino giong apa
Quella non ci piace u formaggio American
Quella va trova no poca Parmesan
La fatto ghiata ghiat gusto ena cor
Quando cella camina para probino caladur

Pepino suracill ana parta scubari
Managa suracill a casa ma dai
Stasira da cucina nu poco di vino ci au lasciar
A quando si briaggo a Pepino giong apa


Erica Vetsch said...

That's kinda scary. And funny at the same time. See if you can get her to hear "Auntie Rose is a fraud." :)

CJ said...

From your fingers, to God's eyes,Erica.

Alesia said...

Ohmigod, that is tragically funny, and funny because of the humorous way you wrote about it. I wonder what it says about her psyche that she's hearing dirty Italian songs...

Anonymous said...

I haven't heard that song in ages! I remember it used to play on the radio before I went to school way back when. And it really is a mystery why your mother is hearing dirty Italian songs?


Nutterone said...

Gads... I love that your mom is hearing naughty music in her own head.

Nutterone said...

WAIT... You should hide an alarm clock with CD player somewhere in the house, so music really does come on daily!!!!