Naturally, she couldn't understand Star Trek, a show that played Saturday mornings because of a merciful Buddha. Here's something that you didn't know: Spock looks like Satan to a Southern Italian immigrant from a village nestled in the middle of nowhere hills.
When I was little, my dad always used to say, "Better the devil you know then the devil you don’t" meaning my mother. Meaning her psychosis bedeviled the bejesus out of us.
I told Pappy a joke about Lucifer once that I knew he’d appreciate – even with my mangled Italian delivery. A joke I think I found in Italo Calvino's Italian Folktales.
It turns out the Devil showed up one day inside a church during Mass. Everyone screamed and ran away, even the priest. Naturally the Devil was thrilled that he inspired such terror, but when the smoke and sulfur cleared he saw an old fellow sitting in a pew at the back as if nothing was amiss.
“Do you know who I am?” asked the Devil.
“Of course I do,” answered the old man.
“Aren’t you afraid of me?” the Devil tried again.
“Why should I be?” asked the man. “ Haven’t I been married to your sister these last 40 years?”
Pappy laughed so much he coughed. "It's the true."
I reminded him of what he used to say when I was a kid, after my mother had an episode (perhaps a run in with the police) or an incident (an argument with a cashier that held up the line).
"What I know then?" he asks. "I was young. I understand know."