Hey, it’s my first blog post for 2007, so first...Happy New Year!
In the final days of 2006, two of my blog-buddies, Marie and Marcus posted an interesting challenge on their blogs. Evidently, someone “tagged” Marie first with the dare to write “Five Things About Herself That Nobody Else Knows.” Afterwards, she was supposed to “tag” five friends to do the same, but always being one to buck convention, she refused to play that part of the game. Marcus decided to tag himself and responded with his own list of five.
I approve of the concept, as it made for some very interesting blog-reading, though I am skeptical that it is really possible. As it happens, I already knew several of Marie’s five “secrets.” I doubt anyone (except the true “International Man of Mystery”) can really come up with 5 things that NOBODY knows about. I’m pretty much an open book. Still, I will try my best. Perhaps I can strive for “Five Things That Nobody Reading This Blog Knows.”
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD! The very nature of this exercise involves getting in there and revealing some intimate personal details about myself. I’m game, but if you wish to keep our internet interaction at a safe, impersonal level, you may want to skip today’s blog entry, and go directly to this post!
Ready? I’ll start with something easy…
1.) In the past decade, I have “changed” the pronunciation of my surname. This is obviously confusing for people who have known me for a while, so let me explain it once and for all. The “correct” pronunciation of BUCCELLATO is “BOO-CHA-LA-TOE.” That’s how they say it in Sicily, and that’s what I say today. However, I grew up saying it differently: “BYOU-SA-LOTTO.” That is why my sometimes-nickname is BUCCE, which rhymes with “juice;” it is a shortened version of the “wrong” pronunciation I grew up with. I’m not sure where “Byou-sa-lotto” came from. That’s how my Dad says it, and I can only assume that’s what he grew up saying. Clearly this is some Americanized bastardization. People always have trouble with the name. Except, of course, in Italy, where people always know how to say it, and even know how to spell it correctly without being told.
In case you’re wondering what Buccellato means, it is the name of a plain, sweet cake. I'll post the recipe sometime. I've said it before: if I were in the Mafia, that would be my mob name: "Stevie Sweet Cakes."
Yep, that joke never gets old...
Anyway, I started using the “correct” pronunciation around the time I met my wife. Maybe 7 years ago. As it happens, my younger brother also changed—before me, I believe. That’s why some people call him “BOOCH,” as opposed to my “BUCCE” (still rhyming with juice). I don’t plan to change my nickname, and that really isn’t my business (one doesn’t give oneself a nickname). Also, I don’t really correct anyone…especially people I’ve known forever. I accept either and all names. “Steve” is easiest.
2.) Friendship ranks as one of the most important things in my life. Definitely in the top three. Sure, anyone can say that, but I really, really mean it. I’ve worked hard at making my friends a top priority in my life. I think the reason is that in the past I have NOT done so.
I grew up in New York City—mostly in Queens— but we moved around a lot. I’ve also lived in all the other boroughs of NYC except Staten Island (I made up for that by living in Jersey City for a bit—JC might as well be another borough). As a result of moving so much, I also changed schools quite a bit, until I reached high school. I had a bad habit of NOT keeping in touch with friends after each move. This behavior continued until I left high school and started working on staff at Marvel Comics. I think that’s when I really became aware of my problem. I’d just “blown off” my high school friends and was hanging out with a great group of people at Marvel—the Assistant Editors. A couple, in particular, had been friends with each other since the 6th grade. Because I was new to their circle, and a year younger, I always felt like somewhat of an outsider, but I really liked these guys—and their extended group of friends—and wanted to be part of the group.
It was then that I consciously decided that I was going to keep this group of friends—for life, if possible. Like anything worthwhile in life, that meant I had to work at it. I’m happy to say that I am still good friends with most of those people today.
In my adult life, I’ve always believed that you can’t really choose your friends—Friends choose YOU. I still think that is true, but it isn’t the whole truth. If you value friendship, you need to learn how to pick the right people to be friends with, and pursue them as you would any other goal. I know too many people who pick friends for the wrong reasons—like because they are cool or popular, for example. You may have a good time hanging out with such people, but unless you share a similar value system, this is not a friendship that will endure. I’m talking about REAL friends, by the way. Intimates that you can stay friends with for decades, if not for life. No reason you can’t hang out & have fun with people who are cool, popular & exciting…just beware of mistaking that for true friendship.
Excuse me while I step off this soapbox…
Here’s the good stuff…
3.) I am a really good kisser! Or so I have been told, by those who would have an opinion on such things! No, really, it’s been an almost universal compliment from those I’ve kissed. Or, should I way, those lucky few…? Heh, heh.
Where did I learn this important talent? Well, I credit an old girlfriend of my brother Jack. I have no idea what her name was. I must have been about ten years old at the time. I remember absolutely nothing about this girl, except that she “taught” me how to “French kiss” one day, just for kicks! Maybe the credit is undeserved. Maybe she was a lousy kisser. Still, she was the first, and I’ll always be grateful! ;)
4.) I’ve always had many girls as friends, and I’ve almost always fallen in love/lust/obsession with them.
Since I’m getting all candid and introspective here, I will have to say that I credit this behavior to the fact that I come from divorced parents. I grew up very close to my mother and without a father figure at home. In my case, repercussions were as follows: Growing up I was, on one hand, comfortable with girls/women (as friends). On the other hand, I was utterly clueless about what to do with them. After all, I had no clear example of what a healthy relationship looked like. I think that because my mother raised me, I was able to relate to girls in that way that made me the “sweet, harmless guy” they liked to hang out with, but never date. Plus, I was small, shy and mousy. Petrified, really. If they only knew about the “Great Kisser” thing…
I can’t remember all of the girl “friends” I’ve had crushes on, but I remember many of them. Even back in the second grade…the first girl I remember liking…Janice. Elementary school is a blur. In Junior high, I was into Fiona, then, I became infatuated with Zoe, and then downright obsessed with Jody. She was the first pure example of what became my M.O. through high school and beyond. Actually, she was a little different from most because we were good friends in 8th grade. Some of my other “obsessions” were based more on fantasy. It took a while before I had a girlfriend who actually reciprocated my feelings (more or less!)
As I think about it, I realize that I was well into my twenties before I had a relationship where I felt confident to be myself (yes, she too was a “friend” before becoming a “girlfriend,” or whatever term you want to use—she hated that term!). But it wasn’t until my thirties that I really got a handle on WHO I AM. That made all the difference, and put me in a position where I was ready to meet & marry the right woman.
Up until that point there were many women that I fell for in different degrees. A few reciprocated, most didn’t. Almost all of them were my friends first and some still are. At this point, the ones who are still my friends are mostly married themselves. Keeping a friendship alive with a single woman is a difficult or impossible feat a married man. It’s a bad idea, in any case. As you know from my confession above, friendship is a big deal for me—but, so is marriage. Generally speaking, it’s asking for trouble to hang around with single people of the opposite sex when you’re married. As a result, many of these relationships have faded or disappeared…but the good ones are fondly remembered, and all of them helped make me who I am today. Whatever that means.
5.) I have cold knees. How’s that for a little-known fact? Some people have cold feet. I have cold knees. A precious few share that intimate knowledge…until now that is!
Well, that’s it. More than you wanted to know. Ahhh, the internet—it’s like a grand, glorious rubbish heap filled with the refuse of all that was once private and sacrosanct in human discourse. I feel cleansed, having dumped all this upon you, dear reader. Thanks!
Next time, I promise to blog about something more inane…until then...
…Oh yeah…consider yourself TAGGED…MwaHaHa!!
PS: I wrote this in the middle of the night and I'm afraid this post is both rambling and unclear in places. Need any clarification on what the hell I'm talking about? Please ask--I'll try to figure out what I mean! At least let me know if I'm embarassing myself too much! ;)