I pulled into the drive and parked. We finished Cocker’s “With a Little Help from My Friends” before emerging from the car. The song made me think of becoming a Roman Citizen. “Friends, Romans, Countrymen…” I took her hand as we walked to the front door.
“We’re here! Feed us!” I shouted as we entered my house. Hand in hand with my beauty!
Margie came bounding down the stairs. Stopped and took one look at Rebbecca. “Wow! You look great! I love what you’ve done. Classy and sexy!”
“Luis dressed me.” She giggled. “You’re looking good, yourself, Margie.”
“Well, Really Big Brother, I’m impressed.” My very nude sister told me. My family is casual about it. We aren’t nudists, but had no problems going around the house in whatever. So, I’d been “Really Big Brother” for a while. I’d like to think it wasn’t because of Junior. Now, I know she was impressed because of Becca.
“Good evening to you, Delicious Little Sister.” She ignored me as usual and took Becca’s hand.
“Mama says I’m to escort you to the dining room. He can come along.” She grinned at me. “She’s pulled out all the stops in only 15 minutes. That woman amazes me.”
Mama had pulled out all the stops. Our two best candelabras framed a centerpiece of fresh fruits. Massive tapers lit the buffet and sideboards. The family’s ‘really good’ china and flatware decorated the table. We only used the best for weddings and funerals. The smell of fresh, hot bread filled the air. Our best olive oil was on the table right next to a wonderful balsamic vinegar. Two wine glasses were at each setting.
Margie walked Becca around to my side of the table where two settings were put very close together. Just as we got to our chairs, Mama and Papa came out of the kitchen. She was carrying a platter of Antipasti and he was carrying two bottles of vintage Italian wine. They were both nude. Outreach had reached their home!
“Mama, Papa, this is Rebbecca Davis, my partner in the Program this week and new girlfriend. Becca, my parents. Doctor and Doctor Contadino.”
“Rebbecca, such a pleasure to meet you.” My Mama put down the platter and took Becca’s hands. “Welcome to our home. Welcome to our family for as long as you will have us. This place setting is here for you, always.” She then kissed both her cheeks. Did I mention I love my Mama?
“Thank you. Doctor Contadino. I’m honored.” I could see happy tears forming in Becca’s eyes. My eyes were a bit moist. Had to be an allergic reaction.
“Please, Rebbecca, call me Carmella.” She moved aside so Papa could step in.
“Rebbecca, I’m Pietro. Peter.” He kissed both cheeks as well. “I think I’ve raised my son well. Yet, should he hurt you, you come to me. He’s not that big. Capisci?” He winked at her, yet I knew he was serious. “Welcome to our home and family.”
“Thank you, both.” She took my hand. “I’m not worried about Luis. The things I’ve already learned from him and where he got them…” She winked at my parents. “I’m happy with him. Might even keep him.” Oh, two can tease? “Thank you both for the welcome. And you, too, Margie.”
We sat, finally. We feasted. Mama took off Sunday and Monday from her restaurant, so we were lucky to have her home. Even running a professional kitchen, she still loved to cook at home. Knowing my schedule for the week, she had shown some restraint. We only had a three course meal. Although, she did extract a promise from Becca to come for Sunday lunch and a real feast. Nine courses and long naps after!
The conversation flowed. My parents went light on the wine for Becca and I, since we still had homework to do. They gave Margie a bit more, but not much. The starter was traditional Antipasti. Yeah, not antipasto. It’s the plural since there is more than one type of food before the food. We had marinated artichoke hearts (Mama won’t even share with her only son the recipe for the marinade), four different salamis, plump black olives, slices of Roma tomatoes, sweet onion sliced thin, anchovies, five cheeses from soft water buffalo to a hard Romano style, three different kinds of peppers, and other fresh veggies. Plus, three different breads for dipping in the olive oil and vinegar.
When we got around to the Program, I was open about my day. Becca was too. I know we both turned a bit red. Thankfully hard to see in the candle light. Margie shared her day as well. So much for my thoughts about her innocence! Yet, her day is her story. I’ll let her tell it another time. My parents took it all in and talked about their day, as if what we kids said was normal. Becca learned of the connection between my mother and the best restaurant in town. She also discovered that my father did consulting work for her father.
Papa is one of the top economist in the world, if you believe what you read. Hey, he’s my Papa. They say he’s THE expert on currencies and trade policies. He’s a consultant because, as he told me once, never have a boss you don’t trust and can’t respect. I guess he never found one. It was good, because he worked out of the house. When he wasn’t traveling, I got a lot of his time and attention.
I found out I could get Becca to try new things if I feed them to her. I introduced her to anchovies by putting one on a slice of sweet onion like a cracker and feeding it to her. I don’t think she knew what she had eaten until I told her. After that, she took great delight in stuffing hot peppers in my mouth! But she did eat a few more anchovies that way.
Mama’s Veal Santa Rosa was the main course. When she’s not at the restaurant, it’s not on the menu. She refuses to share this recipe with anyone. It’s a milk fed veal fillet pounded out wafer thin. She then fills it with backfin crab meat from Blue Jimmy’s and her secret mix of spices and “stuff.” She flash cooks it in wine and capers, then reduces the pan liquor and adds cream to make the sauce. The bottom line? It teases while it assaults. It assaults while it teases. It’s named after her mom who is the master teaser of the family.
A pasta dish tossed with fresh, blanched veggies was the side dish.
When Becca took the first bit of Santa Rosa, she turned to Mama. “Oh my… This is… I’m sorry, I don’t have the words! Wow is too trite.”
“We call it the tease that assaults, after Grandma.” Mama gave me a little glare.
“Rebbecca, thank you. That’s the most sincere compliment I’ve had on this dish. Do you cook?”
“Compared to this? No. I attempt.”
“We’ll find some time and I’ll teach you how to make this.” Okay. I should be pissed. No, livid with anger. Out of my mind. I’ve been working on Mama for years to teach me. Less than an hour and she’s offering to teach my girlfriend! I knew then and there that I’d better do right by Becca or I’d have to move and change my name.
The conversation flowed again. Music, economics, nudity, the news, movies, books. I noticed that my parents had Vivaldi playing. “The Four Seasons.” A wonderfully complex and beautiful work.
Dessert was my absolute favorite. Crème Brûlée. Not even Italian, but we should have invented it! When she served it, I stood, bowed, and kissed her hand.
We tarried a bit at the table after. The fresh fruit was now fair game. I had to convince Becca it was okay. Our centerpieces were designed to be eaten! As the meal wound down, Mama turned to us. “You kids have some homework?”
“Well, what’s keeping you? We’ll clean up.” She started picking up dishes. “Oh, Rebbecca, will you be here for breakfast in the morning?” I know my jaw hit the table. A look at Becca told me the same thing had happened to her. She’s quicker to recover than I am!
“Carmella, I don’t know. I’d like to be. I don’t think it’s all up to me. As my… Okay, boyfriend… I’m getting used to that… said, honesty.” She hesitated. Looked at her hands, much as she had done this morning in Dr. C’s office. “I’m scared. Today has already been overwhelming. I probably need some space tonight. Plus, I do need to spend some time with my folks.”
“Whatever you decide, dear. Please think of this as home.”
“Thank you!” Becca ran up to Mama and kissed her. Those two were already thick as thieves.
“Mama, get Rebbecca to show you the painting she did today.” Yep, I’m evil. Becca stared daggers at me. Then she saw in my eyes that I really did think it was the right thing to do. She nodded her head and I ran out to the car to get it. When I came back, she was relating the history of the painting, if four hours can be a history.
“Viola!” I pulled it out from behind my back and held it out for them. I had no idea the reaction I was expecting, what I got made me think. Mama hugged Papa closer, tears forming in her eyes. Margie just kept looking from me, to the painting, and to Becca with awe in her eyes. Papa hugged Mama tighter with a huge grin on his face. He looked at me and nodded with pride.
Mama broke the silence first. “Rebbecca, I don’t know what to say. That’s the absolute best likeness of my son I’ve ever seen. You caught his soul. At the same time, it’s impossible not see his love for you.” Her eyes glazed a bit and she flushed. “Or miss his lust for you either. Ah…” Papa was gonna get lucky tonight!
“Rebbecca, you’re in trouble.” She looked quizzically at Papa. “When I look at Carmi, that’s how I feel.” She looked questions at him. “In love, deeply. You’re just starting down this path with my son and you’ve got it bad. Yep, you’re in trouble.”
“Trouble?” Becca was clearly confused.
“Yep. Next thing you know, you’re our age, with kids, making a good living doing something you enjoy, happy with life, and still deeply in love.” That got a quick kiss from Mama. They were both going to get lucky tonight!
“Now I know where Luis gets his teasing gene from!” We all laughed. I used the moment to say we’re off to do our homework and I led Becca down the stairs to my room.
“This looks like you,” she said, looking around. A desk with two computers on it and two servers under. Bookcases that she was scanning the titles on the contents. Large screen TV and associated electronics with surround sound aimed at the king sized bed. A large, comfortable sofa and two chairs perfect for snuggling in and reading. An open area with a mat for exercise and practice. On the edges, a curling bar and hand weights. Two walls with windows, because it was a daylight basement. The wall area not covered with windows or bookcases had photographs, not posters. Most all images I had captured through the telescope I had in the backyard.
“Becca, I need to review some game films. Make yourself at home. Put on some music if you want, it won’t bother me.” I popped the game disc in one computer while I brought up the mapping program I had written on the other. It was designed to let me quickly map out plays and save them to be printed later.
“Hmmm… Thanks, sweetie. Why don’t you pick something. I like your taste in music.” She gave me a quick kiss as she studied the titles of the books on my desk. “When I finish exploring, I’m going to do some reading for English.”
“Ah, figured me out yet?”
“Not yet.” She winked and started on the photographs. Jupiter, Saturn, tons of the Lunar surface, studies of the Sun’s corona during an eclipse, and the deep space objects. Star clusters, nebulae, and clouds. Each was 11” by 14” and had taken me as long as four hours to photograph.
I went to work understanding East. I was aware of Becca the whole time, yet felt very comfortable working. I’d look over at her and she’d look up and smile. I’d feel her looking at me and turn to smile at her. After an hour, I had mapped out a couple dozen plays and had starting printing them.
“Wanna take a kissy break?” I asked. Her answer was to beat me to the sofa! We played smoochie, grabby, and feely for a bit.
“How’s your reading?”
“Okay. I love Dickens, but have always had problems with Great Expectations. How’s your stuff? What are you doing, anyway?”
“I’m going through the games East has played this year. From that, I’m watching how their game unfolds. What plays they run and when. How they align their defense. From all that, I’m trying to get into the coach’s head and understand their key players. I’ve got a good idea about them now.”
“What are you printing?”
“Maps of their offensive plays and defensive movements with my notes on when they tend to use each.”
“Devise a strategy for us to defeat East.”
“Isn’t that the Coach’s job?”
“Yep. But it’s also my job and Mike Holloway’s, the Offensive Captain. He’s doing the same thing right now. So is every member of the coaching staff and a few other players that might want to get into coaching sometime. Coach takes all our input, then he decides. He loves having this many eyes on the field and enjoys teaching us the game from a coaching perspective.”
“Do you ever want to coach?”
“I’ve thought about it. Don’t know. Right now, my physics comes first. In a perfect world, I could do both! But college ball is a fulltime coaching job and that’s what would interest me.”
“It sounds really trite when I say it, but to solve the mysteries of the universe that can be solved through investigation and science.”
“Well, the Holy Grail of Physics is called The Theory of Everything.”
“Do you think it exists?” She looked a bit perplexed.
“In the literal sense, no. As a unification of all the branches of physics so we have a common reference point? Yes.”
“Yours?” She was pointing to the photo wall.
“Yep. You like?”
“They represent the other reason I like physics. The sheer beauty of the universe. I’d like to think I can find a way to share that with the world.”
“Like me and my art?”
“I only wish my photos were as good as your art. I’d love to see more.”
“Tomorrow. I’ll show you my portfolio and you’ll have a chance to see my personal projects at home.”
“Back to work?”
“Slave driver!” Well, we didn’t go right back to work. We played a bit more smoochie face. Quickly becoming one of my favorite sports!