First off, I just want to say this story could either be entitled: “The Stupidest Thing I Ever Did” or “A Portrait of an Idiot as a Young Italian.”
In school, I never really did much but space out. Math, Science, and especially History were not on my favorites list. Needless to say, this led me into my adult life saying things like, “so, can we stop in Chicago on our way to Detroit?” at a moment’s notice. When I was in my early twenties, going on my first “big rock and roll tour” was my only real geography lesson. My male bandmates would have a fun time of making a go at my ignorance. But a favorite among friends and family is one with which they shake their heads in disbelief and ask me to tell again and again. So, here it is: My Story.
I am a 100% Italian, and I thought (and maybe still do) that the Mafia runs the country. I don’t know if I got this idea from seeing The Godfather too many times, or from my Sicilian grandfather, who ruled our household, but, I thought the POW-MIA insignia stood for “Power to the Mafia.” For my whole life, I went around thinking that POW-MIA was a secret sign to let people know (mainly us Italians) that they were in the Mafia. Either that, or they were hip to whatever was going down within the Mafia underground. I never told anyone about this. I just remember as a kid seeing POW-MIA bumper stickers on cars and thinking like, “yeah, there they go, the Mafia. Cool.”
Now, I had no idea how very stupid and how very led astray I was, until one day, I was walking outside with my boyfriend, and hanging up in the center square of town was the American flag side by side with the POW-MIA flag! Now this was really too much for me! Small stickers and signs here and there, okay, but this? It was like they were just coming out and saying it. I grabbed my boyfriend’s hand in fear of what this could mean. It was just too much. When he responded with a confused look, I realized he was one of those who just never knew. I didn’t know where to begin. At this point, I think he began to have his own realization of what a goddamned freak his girlfriend was turning out to be. When I finally calmed down enough to tell him the big news, I don’t think he stopped laughing for a week.
So, there it is. The stupidest thing I ever did. Or maybe you could call it “A Portrait of an Idiot as a Young Italian.”