Tommy Avalon is in a chef coat and at a work station in the kitchen at Gaetano's. He is talking to someone off camera, while doing prep work on baby artichokes. A bottle of CYNAR is placed prominently behind him on a shelf.
Rita did her best. She used to say that you didn't have to give birth to be a good mother. But taking in a couple of foster kids like Joe and me doesn't mean you're a good mother either. Like I said, Rita did her best. And she is the closest I have to a parent whatever that means. I did take her name. Any port in a storm. know what I mean? Gaetano Fontana was the very first person in my life to encourage me to make my life better. He made my life better. I was pretty feral on the stroll. The black girls on Locust Street used to call me 'Beastie Boy'.
Ya know, Guy, he always called me Tom—never Tommy. He spoke to me as if I were a grown up, even when I wasn’t so grown up. It was Guy who got me to walk the line.
He kept his place downtown even after the restaurant went uptown. Our house wasn't too far away. When the weather was good after I came home from the trade, a lot of times it was so hard to crash. I would see him unlocking his door. One night I scooted right in front of him after it was opened and stood in his vestibule. He stopped himself from falling by holding onto the door itself. Scared the shit outa him. When he realized who I was, he said, "I am not about to bed a teenager." I was legal!
There was this man who used to take good care of me. He was good friends with Gaetano. They were so different. It’s strange that they knew each other. After Guy met me he said, "I know you" in a way that made me feel different. No more "Beastie Boy."
Gaetano introduced me to this great book, Giovanni’s Room--the one the bookstore is named after. It was almost like he knew more about me than I did. I know Mrs D—she can be tough—believe me, I know. But she loves…loved?...her brother, no matter what. She wishes he were back here and alive. That’s why she is the way she is. We all wish it never happened. Guy is-- was--this restaurant. He worked it like it was his living room.
[He arranges the artichokes he has completed and then holds up one yet to be prepared]
These are actually quite beautiful. They are not yet thorny at this stage. There was a beautiful woman, Cynara, that the god Jupiter wanted for himself. He turned her into a goddess, but she was unhappy, so he turned her into an artichoke. Like I said, at this stage they are quite beautiful but even when mature and thorny they can be very tasty. The good news is that the artichoke is an aphrodisiac.
That Jupiter--for the chief god he was pretty much a horn devil. He was also into a handsome young man, Ganymede. He carried him away after shape shifting into an eagle.
[he grabs the bin of water]He turned Ganymede into a water bearer eventually for the rest of the gods. [he adds lemon juice, crushed red pepper and herbs to the water]. Jupiter was always turning his love objects into something practically immortal and beautiful.
Me? I am like Mary Fucking Magdalene. Gaetano Fontana helped me go to school. Got me a job. Helped turn me into somebody. He civilized me. Now, I can actually let myself feel something for somebody else.
Now I'm gonna sound like a sissy boy because it's like tsunami inside of me. I don't know how to love him. I wish Guy was still around.
Danny Donnelly (Tommy Avalon) and David Moretti (Marc De Marco) are attached to this tv project.
Copyright 2013 Giovanni Vitacolonna Center City