Marcello's Mischief: That Damned Jelly Bean

It was a sunny, Sunday afternoon in May.  The year was 1993; Slick Willy (Bill Clinton) was president, Zack, AC Slater, and Screech were household names, and Vanilla Ice was already a one hit wonder.  On this Sunday, as was customary we had our big, Italian style meal in our dining room which seemed perfectly equipped to deal with such fanfare.   Despite the familiarity of our Sunday ritual, this Sunday seemed very different from the other Sundays.  For starters my dad was actually on time; he did not make us wait until the Italian league soccer games were over.  Part of this stemmed from the fact that the Seria A soccer season was over.  I don't know if it was out of sheer boredom, but my dad was on time and we had our meal at a reasonable time.  Everything seemed right; we were all excited about the prospects of beginning and ending our meal earlier.

Marcello, had different plans on that fateful afternoon.  Instead of going along with the rare punctuality of the moment he decided upon an entirely different course.  I don't know if it was out of sheer compulsion, or a sick sense of humor; my brother seemed bent on disrupting this rare picture perfect family gathering. With a blink of an eye and a sinister grin my brother hatched his plan of attack...

While our father was talking in his usual animated fashion my brother quietly placed a licorice jelly bean into his San Pellegrino mineral water.  I didn't see this happen, but once I saw Marcello grinning, his chest perched like a Peacock I knew that something was awry.  I knew from that moment on that our little peaceful Sunday gathering had come to end.

I watched for what seemed like an eternity; curious yet terrified, secretly appreciative, yet silently afraid.  My father for some strange reason kept talking and talking, gesticulating, ranting on and on.  I could not handle the suspense. I wanted to run to the bathroom, but a great part of my was mesmerized, I wanted to see how my father would react to the jelly bean assault.

Without looking my father took the glass and in shot like fashion proceeded to drink the jelly bean laced water like it was Grappa.  About 2 seconds later my father turned around and spitted out all of the water on our youngest brother, Daniele.  My brother and I began to laugh profusely, we couldn't contain it.  Our laughter was explosive just as the jelly bean laced water that came out of my dad's mouth.  Almost immediately after my dad screamed out, "Who did this?"  he grabbed my brother's hand and began his CIA style interrogation. The showdown had begun, it was high noon in the Crincoli household.

He told my brother that he had to admit to the deed or else everyone else at the table would have to wait until he did so.  My brother did not budge, my father did not budge. A minute soon turned to a half hour, a half hour, to an hour, an hour to 2 hours.  Throughout this showdown either one of them blinked. The tension in the air was unbearable. Our dad in his frustration tried to coerce Marcello through tightening his grip on his arm.  Still our brother kept laughing, digging in, instead of relenting.  He even managed to stick his tongue out at our father at different times during the interrogation.  2 hours passed, and the third hour was rapidly approaching, with the setting sun appearing until finally a break...

The phone rang and the call was a long distance one for our father.  Our father had no choice but to answer the call.  Those were the days before the cordless phone, before the caller ID, before the cell phone.  The phone line was simply not long enough.   The stalemate was finally broken.  My brother emerged victorious, he had won, he had done the impossible. He broke one of the most formidable wills in the world.   Despite this awesome victory I hated my brother.  He had deprived us of a peaceful meal.  However, a part of me admired him also. He accomplished something that no one in our family had done up to that point; he defeated our father.  In his usual twisted manner he left the table giggling, unruffled.  He even managed to take another jelly bean. We all gasped when he did this, but he calmly walked away with it. What he did with that jelly bean is still a mystery.  One thing for certain was that my brother through his use of the licorice jelly bean was able to break the will of our father; albeit ruining the serenity our Sunday afternoon meal in the process.


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