As I write this letter, you are only four years old, but since this time capsule of advice won’t expire, I figure I’ll get it down now, and bestow it upon you in thirteen or fourteen years. I didn’t learn it myself until I became Italian by marriage in my 30’s, and was forced by your dad’s people to watch every mafia movie I had ever missed (all of them) in rapid succession.
I fine tuned my most important life skills with lessons I learned not from The Godfather, but from The GodMothers. (You can also learn a lot from Sex And The City, Scandal, or in your brother’s case, maybe Prison Break, but we’ll save those for college graduation.)
Since you’re only four, your exposure to Italians in entertainment has been limited to Pinocchio, Mario and Luigi, (and maybe a little James Gandolfini when I’m on a Sopranos bender), but there’s much to be learned from the R rated world of wiseguys that awaits you when you are ready for it (or what your dad likes to refer to as age 7).
The trick is to pay attention to the women. It’s easy to get distracted by the men in these films and tv shows, with all their action, but the real power and magic lies in the wives, mothers and sisters. To make it easy for you (and to better guide you at Redbox), I have outlined the women who give you the most bang for your buck here:
Kay Adams – Sure, no one likes Michael’s wife Kay in the Godfather movies, because we all wanted Michael to end up with the exotic and beautiful Apollonia, however, we can still learn a lot from sniveling Kay.
- Main Lesson: Don’t ever settle for being anyone’s second choice.
- Secondary Lesson: Long-suffering is not cute (nor are floppy hats and pilgrim collars).
Apollonia Vitelli-Corleone – Beautiful, graceful and kind, poor Apollonia bites it pretty early on in The Godfather, but not before she teaches us some important lessons.
- Main Lesson: Don’t underestimate the power you have over men.
- Secondary Lesson: People with names like Appolonia are man traps. MAN. TRAPS. — Just ask Prince. However, as this Appolonia teaches us, The hot girl doesn’t always end up with the guy.
Connie Corleone – We first meet the Godfather’s daughter Connie in the opening scene of The Godfather at her wedding, and she goes on to annoy us periodically throughout all three installments.
- Main Lesson: Make sure your family (specifically your brother) approves of your choice of husband. If they don’t, there’s probably a good reason.
- Secondary Lesson: Be glad that YOUR brother Rocco is a lover, not a fighter.
Ginger McKenna – It may seem like we can’t learn much from a skanky villainess like Ginger in Casino, but dig deeper and don’t be fooled.
- Main Lesson: Don’t settle down if you’re not ready.
- Secondary Lesson: Men can be distracted and manipulated with poker chips and good looks (and a few other talents).
Karen Hill – In Goodfellas Karen is from a strict Jewish family and marries mobster-turned-informant, Henry Hill, only to get sucked into a life of crime and chaos. Let her serve as a warning for you.
- Main Lesson: We all like the bad boy sometimes, just don’t let him turn you into someone you’re not.
- Secondary Lesson: If a man tells you he’s ‘in construction’, make sure he’s really in construction.
Angela de Marco – I feel like I’m stretching a little by including the over-the-top wife of Frank ‘The Cucumber’ de Marco in Married To The Mob, but there is something to be learned here all the same.
- Main Lesson: You can always reinvent yourself.
- Secondary Lesson: Steer clear of spiral perms and gum snapping to avoid unnecessary attention.
Dr. Jennifer Melfi – Okay, okay. I guess she isn’t technically a mob wife/mother/sister , but sometimes when I am watching The Sopranos, I wish she was my wife.
- Main Lesson: Being a soft place to land for someone else is a special quality, but you CAN be soft and still stick up for yourself.
- Secondary Lesson: Properly executed sarcasm is sexy.
Carmela Soprano – My favorite mafia wife, in part because of my big hair envy and deep appreciation for 1990’s women’s fashion, but mainly because she is my go-to for how to handle a tough situation. Tony Soprano’s no nonsense wife rounds out this list.
- Main Lesson: Be direct. Be direct. Be direct. You’ll be glad you did.
- Secondary Lesson: Always have a pasta dish in the fridge for unexpected company.
Like I always say: so many mob women, so little time. With a last name like Maccarelli, your father’s nose, a brother named Rocco, and your love of cured meats, you are poised to take this advice to heart and be the best woman that you can be.
Go forth sweets, and practice the lessons shared by these wisegirls. If you ever feel lost or hopeless, (and you will because that’s what your twenties are all about), kick back, pop some corn, and sit down with a good mob flick. Pay particular attention to the way the ladies handle themselves in a world of violence, corruption, greed, and suspicion. Reflect on your own problems and learn from how they handle theirs. If you are still struggling, as yourself ‘What would Carmella do (WWCD)?’.