It all started when my husband’s old friend Al Sanguinetti introduced me to his old friend George Sanchietti (they met while standing in an alphabetized draft line for the Korean war…) This is Francesca,” he explained. I was new to California but no dummy. If Al Sanguinetti wanted to confer Italianate status upon me, I was halfway home free.
Later we met the Teldeschis. “This is my friend Francesca,” Al said to the gathering of jovial, Italian-speaking, excellent-wine-drinking folks at a family baptismal celebration under huge Sonoma trees bearing the most delicious ripe figs I think I ever encountered. Did anyone notice I didn’t speak a word of Italian? Did it matter? Not. Al and my husband Bud had attended an earlier family celebration – Bud returned saying he’d been on a day trip to Italy – at which the pregnancy of the younger Teldeschi son and his wife was announced. “If we play our cards right,” Al had carefully explained to my Michigan/Cornish husband, “we might get invited back for the baptism.”
If you play your cards right at these gatherings, and smile your best smile (does it matter whether it’s a Southern US or a Northern Italian smile? Probably not. It is very easy to smile at these gatherings,) you can even get invited to the Ligurian Society annual picnic. This is an unforgettable afternoon of wine, pasta, more wine, more pasta and possibly a little more wine, plus accordion-accompanied Italian song by Santa Rosa’s Coro Allegro, on a leafy hilltop of the Calegari Vinyards. Did anyone notice the only time I joined in was for the chorus of Funiculi, Funicula? Probably not.
This year, for the Ligurian picnic, Al’s daughter Angelica (an executive with a fashion manufacturer) found matching Italian tee shirts for the women of the extended Sanguinetti family. I have played my cards with such gusto that there I am, smack in the middle of the photo op of gorgeous Sanguinetti women, family and adjunct family combined. On the way to the car for the trip home, I found myself chatting (in English) with a lovely, dark-haired woman in the rest room line. After a sentence or two she held out her hand, “Maria Theresa,” she said. “Francesca,” I said. Perfezione.
Causes Fran Johns Supports
Compassion & Choices of N.CA
San Francisco Interfaith Council