When I know I’m right, I’m right.
I’ll even put money on it. Or something better than money, even.
About 18 years ago, John and I had two kids. Girls, ages one and three. John allowed me to choose names for both girls. I thought he was being gracious… or perhaps confident in my ability to choose good names….or maybe he just didn’t really care about that sort of thing…
Wrong. He was saving up. There was a name he cared about. Our first son’s name.
See, John comes from a long line of Italians who named their firstborn son either Louis or John. For generations. So it was time for a Louis. You know: Luigi. Big Lou.
To a WASP like me, this a little much to swallow. Not only was John’s dad – Big Lou (of course) – a power larger-than-life in the family already and a tough act to follow, but it was a rather ethnic name from my perspective. Right up there with Guido or Vito or Giuseppe. You almost have to say, “Hey!” before you say the name. It just flows naturally. “HEY! GUIdo!” No, the men in my family had names like James and Robert and Donald and Elwin. Pale skin and kilts. There was a colliding of worlds going on here.
Then again, I had already named two kids. And this was a family tradition. And he is Italian. But no. I just can’t…let it…happen.
“Maybe Nick.” I offered. Yeah. That sounded pretty Italian. I tried it on for size. “Nicholas Marsella. That’s nice. And a ‘Nick Marsella’ could get a table in any Italian restaurant in town. It sounds extremely Italian, don’t you think, Honey?”
“Well first of all, it’d have to be ‘Dominic’, in which case we’d call him ‘Dom’…”
Oh no. That’s too close to Vito.
Clearly I was in danger of losing this one.
Until one night I got a lucky break.
We were at dinner with a bunch of friends, having a lively debate about closet smokers. You know, the people who smoke, but only in secret? And I told the group I’d heard a great quote in a movie about this.
“It was Robin Williams, and the movie was ‘The Fisher King’. His line was, ‘There are two kinds of people in this world: people who smoke, and people who don’t. You just have to decide which one you are, and be that.'”
My beloved replied, “Yeah, I remember that. You got the quote right, but not the movie. It wasn’t ‘Fisher King’.”
“Yes it was.” I replied emphatically. “He played a grocer or something. He was sitting in the walk-in fridge on a milk crate talking to another guy when he said it.” I was right. I could see Robin Williams in my head as clear as day. A washed up psychiatrist giving free advice. It was a great scene.
“Nope.” he said.
“Oh yeah?” I saw an opportunity. “Wanna bet?”
“Sure. What d’ya wanna bet?” John grinned.
“Hmm. Not money. Something better. Let’s see….” I tapped my chin a few times for effect.
See, my husband would never welsh on a bet. (Nothing against the Welch.) He’s as honest as the day is long, and I knew this might be my only chance to get out of this Italian thing. Plus, we’ve got witnesses.
“OK, fine. If I’m right, I get to name our first son. And if you’re right, you can name the little guy whatever you want. Including Louie or Guido or whatever.”
Now, it’s worth noting that I was not pregnant. No son on the horizon. (Pun intended.) Heck. We could end up with ten daughters . But I wasn’t taking a chance. It was a good bet.
“You’re on.” he said triumphantly.
And we shook on it. A great big, giant, howdy doody shake. Both of us certain of victory.
And then I saw it. The sheepish grin and the twinkling eyes that first made me think, My, he’s sure of himself….
And he began. “You were right. It was Robin Williams, but that wasn’t ‘Fisher King’.” He threw his head back and laughed a maniacal laugh.
My confidence felt a tremor.
“OK, then, smarty pants. What movie was it then?”
“It was ‘Dead Again’. Kenneth Branagh and his wife were in it……..”
He’ was right. I was stunned. I entered into a fog as my memory filled in the rest of the scene with Robin Williams and Kenneth Branagh in the walk-in fridge….
Then I was jolted back into reality with a raucous round of “LOUIE-LOUIE! OHHHOHHOHH…” a song I would hear regularly for the rest of my life.
When I know I’m right, I’m right.
Except when I’m mistaken.
A year later, we welcomed Louis John Marsella into the world.