An Italian lesson…

I’m going to try to tell this one in the most politically correct and blunt way possible. If you are offended by anything in this post, you should take a step back and realize that absolutely no hate is intended at any point in this.

The word for endive/fennel in Italian is “finocchio.” Ironically, this term is also Italian slang for a gay man.

Circa May 2004

Approximately 1 month after we moved into my current apartment [see Miguelito], these two guys moved in downstairs. Any way you cut it, they were gay. These were the types of guys who wanted you to know they were. A detail like this should be none of my business, but the way they underwent their lives was far too public for me to ignore it.

For one thing, on many nights, below directly my bedroom window, we heard minor rustling. It was very common and odd. If we looked out the window, all we saw was a tall guy just standing with his torso positioned at the window below. Oddly enough, the screen of the window below our window was missing during daytime hours. The other detail you need to know is that the bottom floor apartment in my building is half below ground. At this point, you have enough to let your imagination run wild.

Needless to say, these guys needed a nickname. The nickname I came up with for these neighbors was “the finocchios,”a play on the word for gay and the Disney character. In fact, that’s the way you pronounce it, think of the Disney character’s name and just replace the “P” with an “F.”

One of the things we had to put up with was one of the more obnoxious things you will ever experience. To this day, we still don’t know what it was and could be one of two scenarios:

  1. The taller of the two roommates locked the shorter one out of the building and would not let him in.
  2. The taller of the two roommates was not home but the shorter one imagined he was and would not let him in.

In either case, the turn out was exactly the same every time. The shorter guy would first bang on the security door. Another of my idiot neighbors would entertain his antics and let him in. He would bang on the door downstairs. When that got old, he would return outside (with no key to the security door, mind you), and bang on the living room window [recall that they had the ground floor apartment]. Then he would sit on a step in front of the building and cry. What’s it called when you moan and wail? Sobbing? Yea he’d cry like that. This would happen just about every night.

{As I write this, I realize this is more sad than humorous, until I get to the next part.}

One night, it had to be June or early July (definitely pre July 4), this guy pulled these antics and added something. After he took to the step and sobbed, he let out a scream that had to be the funniest thing I ever heard and then said, “here I am; I’m out in the cold again.” That is etched into my brain for the rest of my life.

I never complained to management about these guys, but they were gone by September. A different neighbor must have gotten sick of their shenanigans. I would say they were never to be heard from again, but that’s not entirely true.

If you’ve ever been shopping in the Latham Price Chopper, you would have seen this large screen television in the produce isle where they give you information on recipe tips and sales and whatnot. One day in early 2006, I was shopping there with my people and I was just standing there with my back to the monitor and all of a sudden, I hear an effeminate male voice behind me say, “finocchio,” but it articulated every syllable the way I did when I made up the nickname for these guys.

My reaction could only be described as how Hulk Hogan used to react as a heel when the good guys used to sneak up on him. I put my hands up, started waving them, and slowly turned around while waving my hands expecting to see these guys behind me. Lo and behold it was a dude on the monitor giving the same Italian lesson I gave to you in the context of purchasing fennel root and some of the things you can cook with it.


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