So I offended some people with my last column about the "Sopranos" wannabes who become "Old Country" Italians when they're around foods that end in vowels.
Give me a break.
Besides, I was going for the "wannabes," not the real deals. I didn't write the column as an attack on traditional Italian-American values, as much as I'm not attacking Latin Americans when I say that reporters who take advantage of their Spanish last names by pronouncing them with flair are just as silly as the folks who order their "PrraShoot with Melon" appetizer in a loud, boisterous tone.
Like actress Catherine Bell did in the Jim Carrey flick "Bruce Almighty," when her news anchor character introduces herself as Susan (American accent) Ortega (Spanish accent — OrrrrTay-Ga) — several news personalities do the same.
They can be reporting in a perfectly Americanized English accent and all of a sudden, when they come to a word of Spanish origin, they dive into the accent.
In New Jersey there's a town called Bogota. It's pronounced Boh-Go-Duh, but I once heard a reporter sign off, "In Bogotá, I'm Joe Blow, Something News." He pronounced it "Bo-Goh-TAH." I think I saw the camera shake as the cameraman strained to hold in his laughter.
For a minute I thought I was watching a story about the Medellin drug cartel, and not a flooded basement.
Oops, there I go again. I just offended everybody from Colombia by associating their country with drug rings. I probably offended female camera operators too because I used the term "cameraman."
The point is, I can offend anyone at anytime by saying practically anything.
Of all the Italian-Americans who e-mailed me, not one of you ever rolled your eyes when you heard someone over-pronouncing "Moots-A-Rell?" Come on. Surely watching a weekly show on HBO whereby Italian-Americans are portrayed as stupid, bigoted, murdering mobsters is more Grrring than reading about "Moots-A-Rell," isn't it?
One e-mailer explains:
"It's like listening to someone pronounce every letter in hors d'oeuvres. It's just not right. So, rather than making assumptions and labeling a entire group of people "fake Italians," maybe you should just sit back, have some nice "manigat," enjoy the diversity around you and faggetaboudit."
But don't only stereotypical "fake Italians" say "faggetaboudit?"
One guy wrote and said: "Maybe you don't understand how it is to grow up learning this and adopting it. But I for one am proud of it and look forward to teaching my kids our traditions. Even if this tradition doesn't come from Italy, it comes from Italian-Americans."
OK. So you're completely on board with Ebonics then?
I'm sure every Italian-American named Anthony who screams "Moots-A-Rell" at the top of his lungs is just peachy when an African-American person calls him AnFernee or "axes him a question."
After all, in many cases, that's how African-Americans are brought up hearing it.
Ooops. There I go again. Great, I've just managed to offend Italian-Americans, Colombian-Americans and African-Americans in one column.
I'll save you all the hate mail and just print my favorite response, which came from someone who apparently does have a sense of humor. It read simply:
"Uppa U Ace, Straka."
Sounds a lot like my wife. Nicccce!
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