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“This is MY table!”

July 22nd, 2009 3 comments
Fireworks at Festa Italiana:  worth fighting for... or at least to some people.

Fireworks: worth fighting for... at least to some people.

Last Sunday I went with some pals to Festa Italiana; a Milwaukee tradition I’ve come to love. It’s fun, kinda cheesy, and for the most part, completely American–well–okay… Italian-American. You’re bound to find performances by Frank Sinatra and Elvis impersonators, and other little known Las Vegas types. There’s The Golden Age of Opera Tent that holds a truly beautiful collection of rare recordings, old posters and photos that used to be run by Dominic Frinzi. He passed away in January of 2008, but his tradition and love of opera is carried on in the tent, and now on what is called “The Dominic H. Frinzi Memorial Stage.” Other than that, there are loads of choices where cheesy-cuisie (pizza) is concerned, and if you want other stuff like fried calamari, or fried eggplant, or fried mozzarella sticks, you’ll have luck with those, too. You’ll even find octopus salad… just don’t ask the gal at Pietro’s for pizza, like the guy who stood next to me in line. “We don’t serve that here; that’s American!” She barked. Although when I asked her if she knew where I could get some scungilli, she said she’d never heard of it. I used to always get it at Festa, but I couldn’t find it this time. If anyone knows who still serves it there, let me know. What I do know is that if there’s one thing you can bet on, that is that the firework displays are always, and without a doubt–awesome. With snacks in hand, my friends and I walked back to meet our group where they were reserving a spot for us on the rocks by Lake Michigan. However, since we had yet to eat, Francesca, Demitra and I stopped at a nearby picnic table to make life a little easier while we dined. A couple was already sitting there at the other end, though, and the woman said assertively, “We have people coming.”

Fran said, “Well, we’ll just eat, and then we’ll move when they get here.”

The woman said nothing, and neither did her husband, so we went on with our meals and conversation, when suddenly, there was a loud thud on the table. I looked over and the woman now had a brick in her hand. I thought she must have been mad about something, but I didn’t think it was us. Her people hadn’t come yet. But then she started muttering something about, “I gotta sit at this f***ing table for five hours, and I don’t get to walk around and have any fun!”

“I think she might be upset that we’re sitting here.” I said.

We all sat and looked at one another like, “What do we do?”

“Well, she’s got a brick, you guys,” I added. Then I turned to the gal. “Look, if it’s a problem for ya, we’ll move.”

“Yeah, it’s a problem! And go ahead and talk about me! I’ve only been holding this table for five hours!”

We collected our stuff and moved towards the rocks. “Have fun watching the fireworks,” I said as I got up. “Thanks for sharing the table.”

She glared at me with dagger-eyes, and said something like, “You can go to hell!”

My friends and I sat on the rocks and ate our various fried items and drank our beers. “I don’t know why she thought she had to sit for five hours,” Demitra said. “We got here an hour ago, and look at this great spot we got.”

I laughed. “Yeah, I mean it was pretty much her choice. Oh, well. I guess that’s why she carries that brick.” Soon thereafter, the fireworks started, and as always, they were awesome.

Afterwards, we got some gelato… spumoni for me. Also awesome. As the vendors packed up their supplies and said arrivederci until next year, I thought with a smile, “How in the heck can anybody be pissed off at Festa Italiana? Oh, well.”

A conch shell. Scungilli in Italian.

A conch shell. 'Scungilli' in Italian.

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