Everyone has a past.
Not everyone, however, has a name to proclaim it.
When your name is Vito, you get used to people humming the Godfather theme when you strut into the room. And you do strut, because when your name is Vito, you have a reputation to inhabit.
But even when your name is Vito, you are who you are, and you aren’t necessarily the sum total of all your name evokes. You didn’t choose your name, after all; it’s not like you asked your paesans to start calling you Crazy Carmine or Louie Long Hots (of whom we shall speak at a later date).
You got named Vito. And now you deal with it as best you can, despite the fact that you’re more Care Bear than Corleone.
To be more accurate, you make Care Bears look like Corleones. Tenderheart, eat your heart out; Vito is the most vigorously, you might even say violently, affectionate individual this side of a Sicilian Nonna.*
If your average cheek-kissing auntie is a cannoli, and your above-average, won’t-let-you-go, cries-when-you-extract-yourself-from-her-hug gramma is the richest tiramisu, Vito is a forty-foot-tall pannetone filled with panna cotta and coated in zeppoles and struffolis, atop a cannoli-tiramisu base. All inside a calzone. With candles on top. In the shape of the letters A-M-O-R-E.
When your name is Vito, you get used to ignoring insinuations of “too muchness.” If some poor goomba is intimidated by your head-bonking, wholehearted body-slam of love, you’re just going to go for the glory and smoosh him harder. All you are is affection, which may be why you’re only five pounds.
Or that might be because you were ditched outdoors, by some real gagootz. But that’s ancient history, and Vito doesn’t hold a grudge.
At least, we don’t think he does.
But we can’t forget that Vito does have a past.
We’ll never know the details. We just know that, at age fifteen, recovering from surgery on his googly eyeballs, loping around the lounge like the lovemonster of Livorno, he likes his lot in life. He likes his reputation as a sweet, harmless old Nonno. Everyone thinks of him as the guy who’ll give you his last meatball, the gentlest lover in all the land.
*Of which I had one, who is likely sighing “Shada mia!” in heaven over my wretched jokes. And also sending hugenormous hugs and swoony struffoli to everyone reading this.