Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Tag, I’m it!

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! ;)



Steve Buccellato said...

Well, it's the morning after, and I guess I'm not too embarased by any of this. I really didn't get into any gory details about my life (or my mental/emotional state!)

Also, I didn't mention anyone by name except for a couple of people from elemetary school. I doubt any of these women will ever read this, so I'm safe. The rest of you may know who you are, but I think your identities are safe.

A couple of post-scripts here...

I do have one relationship with a single woman that endures to this day. That's with Marie, who was the "Best Man" at my wedding. Contrary to what some people may believe, Marie and I have never dated. Also, we've known each other too long and too well for any of the usual weirdness to creep into our friendship. The fact that she's often on the other side of the planet isn't even a factor!

Also--you may have noticed that I never mention any details about my wife & child on this blog even when I'm writing about personal stuff. This is intentional, and my own unwritten rule. I'm fair game, but I won't publish details about my family. Just don't feel comfortable with that.

'Nuff said.

mmclaurin said...

This is such a cool post! I need to thank Marie. Thanks!

Marie said...

I was going to say, what about me? But yeah, too many years for it to matter, plus for anyone wondering how to keep single female friends after marriage, it helps when the women in question (friend and wife) also become friends.

Steve Buccellato said...

Excellent point, Marie!

Sara Kocher said...

Well, I didn't know about the knees, anyway. Ahem.

Cool post, but have to disagree a little about the single woman thing. J has two that he's been friends with for years and you have Marie. It think the key is what Marie wrote...the friend and wife need to be friends as well (or at least quite friendly).

By the way, I have always appreciated your keeping friendships alive. I've been trying to use your example as inspiration to do the same. Wish I'd caught on to this earlier, as I let too many great people slip out of my life by not just picking up the phone or writing a few notes.

Steve Buccellato said...

OK, Sara--I agree with you, and your point is noted. However, MY real point is that friendship takes work, not that men & women can't be friends (a la When Harry Met Sally).

The difficulties of the married guy (me) staying friends with single women is something tied into the theme of my original point: In the past, I have almost always ended up having romantic feelings toward my women friends.

Getting married didn't give me a personality transplant, but it did change my priorities. As it happens, since I work at home, I don't have any single women hanging around, as I might were I in an office environment, so there really are no such temptations. However, if I were to get such a job, or find myself working closely with someone who I might be attractive to, I would have to be careful not to fall into old patterns. That's what I mean by working at it. Common sense would dictate a few rules, like no late nights working alone with the hot co-worker, for example!

Not that I think I am a moral weakling, but as I say--it's common sense to give yourself boundries if you want to maintain an ideal.

Am I rambling again? said...

How could you change the pronunciation of yer last name???? Who the hell do you think you are? Good to read this stuff man. I think of you often now that I reside at the McPherran/Candelario house. That building housed, you, me, and Hector to name a few. I am grateful for the internet 'cause it reminds me of my old friends who have moved on. Good points too in this posting. I for find it impossible to be friends with single women when married-but I am almost divorced so that don't matter now :)
Be well bro and represent the east out west-hood rats know who you are!