Wednesday, February 12, 2014


            Alfred was taking his time cleaning his favourite Old Church Bent Billiard pipe with his Rodgers Rosewood Chancet pipe knife. He ran one of his chenille pipe cleaners through the stem of the pipe; then picked up a fresh pipe cleaner, and dipped it in a little Louis XIII de Rémy Martin cognac in the crystal goblet on the table, before running it through the stem of his pipe.

            He filled the bowl of his pipe with Captain Black tobacco, lit it and lovingly drew a little smoke, and blew a lovely smoke ring which drifted toward the ceiling before saying, “Well, Mother, March 1st and the Talliaferro Family Reunion is almost upon us.”

            Mother put down her Atlantic Monthly magazine on the Sheraton table and looked hesitantly at Alfred.  “I know, Alfred, I know,” said she.  “I’m not sure just how much exposure to the family I can endure without saying something thoroughly inappropriate.”

            Alfred continued, “Attending the dinner is fine Mother, but I thought that it would be wise for us to limit the amount of time we have to spend with your family. In particular I am eager to avoid having to respond to an invitation to stay with your brother Calo and his wife Marilena. Calo is too busy playing the Underboss and all kinds of people are trooping through their home; and Marilena is sure to pressure you to attend daily Mass with her.  You don’t need to be explaining why you are not still a Roman Catholic.  Accordingly I have made a reservation for us at the Mandarin Oriental in Boston.  It’s on Boylston Street and a decent distance away from the North End."

            Mother nodded vigorously, “Oh, Alfred, thank you! What a good idea. I love my brother Calo, but I don’t love what the family does for a living. Marilena is sweet, but I don’t want to feel trapped by staying with them and not being able to take a break.”

            “Mother,” said Alfred, “Marilena always says that fish and relatives spoil after three days, but three Talliaferro days only last about twelve hours. Not only do we have reservations at the Mandarin Oriental, but I have also reserved a Bentley Continental GT for the entire time we are in Boston.  That will enable us to drive up the North Shore and visit Gloucester and Rockport.  Maybe we can spend a night at the Peg Leg Inn in Rockport as a late Valentine’s Day celebration."

            “That would be lovely Alfred. My family can be very difficult, but what I’m really afraid of, is seeing Paolo Vizzini’s family. That was such a painful episode in my life. By the way cousin Angelo called the other evening to ask if we were coming. He said it’s a big deal and that Don Giovanni is coming up from Dade County in Florida, and that all of the button men and bagmen are going be there.  How can I love my family when they are involved in such terrible things?"

            “In little doses, Mother.  In little doses,” said Alfred.  “Even Jesus spent most of his time with the people who were responsive to him, and very little time with difficult people like the Pharisees, even though he loved them.”

“Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me” [Matthew 10:40].

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