‘…we have seen his STAR in the yeast, and are come to worship him’
—The Gospel According to Murray, 3:14159265
I was born in a crossfire hurricane and I howled at my ma in the driving rain…..er, sorry.
I was born in the early morning so that my parents could see the son rise.
My uncle, Michael Antonius Wombat Bong Belvedere was present in the hospital at my birth and exclaimed ‘Behold, he shall take away the sins of the world!’ Unfortunately, Uncle Mike was a mumbler with false teeth and an impacted tongue, and the reporters on the scene thought they heard him say: ‘Behold, he shall take away the fins of the world’. This was in the early sixties and shortly thereafter, fins, that great symbol of American prowess and wealth, disappeared from cars forever. Uncle Michael would go on to invent pantyliners for use by women with lapsed sigmoid colons.
It is said that I appeared out of the womb dressed in a tuxedo with a drink in one hand and a cigarette in the other and exclaimed: “How did everyone get in my room!”. I think this story apocryphal, but, that’s a revelation to me.
I was given the name Robert Oswald Belvedere [R.O.B.] in honor of no one so that my uniqueness would immediately be evident to all and sundry [physician Sundry Murray Assor ‘Ted’ Nookfinger Hebeman was a close Jewish friend of the family, known as ‘Dr. Feelthis’ to JFK, RFK, HEY, LBJ, PB&J, FYOUCK, but was a bit slow on the uptake]. Throughout my life, most people have simply called me ‘Bob Oswald Belvedere’ [B.O.B.].
My mother, Cosima Antigone Valkyrie Teuton Ziffel was born in Wampum,Kansas of German, English, Scots-Irish, and Cherokee descent [two of her ancestors were the famous Tom Collins and his wife, Vodka]. The environment on the fruited plains made her grow into a very tough young woman. They took the whole Indian Nation, left her on this-a reservation — maybe someday when they’ve learned, the Cherokee Nation will return. In the mid-1930’s, she became an intimate advisor to Herr Hitler and loyally served under him until 1943, despite the fact that she thought it very odd that he would sometimes show up at meetings dressed in lederhosen, demand to be called “Ziggy”, and ask her ‘How sour is my Kraut, today’. Also, she says, that he had the annoying habit of ending their conversations by slapping his forehead with the palm of his hand and exclaiming: “Oh! Acht tu leiber, I could und had und V8!” [it seems the Führer had had a chance to buy Ford Motor Company in the late 1920’s, was told it was a bad investment by the late Claus Von Oomphberg, and had deeply regretted the decision ever since.]. Because of these two things and many others, Mother Dear determined that Hitler was not tough enough [this was confirmed in April 1945]. She then went and served under Comrade Stalin until 1946, when she realized that, he too, was a wuss [she always told me when I was a child while she bounced me on her knee: ‘Always remember: Uncle Joe is a schmo’]. Mother Dear then returned to Kansas to seek out the man of her dreams, but ended up marrying my father, who, at the time, was struggling to start a career in radio and was reduced to selling used pajamas to Mummers.
My father, Seutonius Antontius Marcus Julius Augustus Crassius Tiberious Getonthebus Chianti Merlot Belvedere was born in a log cabin in Boston, Massachusetts. His father, Italo Murray Wingate Nunzio Belvedere was an Italian immigrant and a student of Roman history and of roaming history, and a maker of wine [what else?]. Italo had many jobs over the years ― including selling plaid pants to nervous cannoli makers and used inner tubes to rabbis ― before he began making the vino. When he first started in this business, his Jewish friends advised him to make whine, but Italo thought it best to go with the Italian/French version.
Italo was the son of Thrathgar, son of Omden, son of Athelbert, son of Erniebert, who slew the dragon of Osshgosh-Nyuk-Nyuk and was the bastard son of Bastardo of Loins, son of Nimrod, son of Gigabyte, son of Megabyte, who won the Battle of Whup Ass and the Duncan Hynes Bake-Off, all in the same year, and was the son of Stoopid The Unready, half cousin twice removed of Sammy of Sousa, brother of King Wendell of East Woo Hoo, half-brother thrice removed of Wingdanger The Inquisitive of Northeast Southwest Fing.
My father’s mother was named Antonetta Maria Pia Mia Youa Constanza Linguini Brushetta DiFunzio. She was of Irish descent [just kidding] and met my grandfather in the 1920’s while they were both selling clams to lepers with anger management issues. They were so poor when they married that they could not afford to consummate their marriage for four years. Nine months after they finally did, my father was born in that log cabin I mentioned earlier in Boston’s North End. I have pictures of that cabin and it invokes many memories for people now dead [it was knocked down before I was born to make way for a calzone distributorship and then became a headquarters for a debating society which then devolved into a house of ill-dispute]. Their Best Man was Antonetta’s brother, Beaten Path DiFunzio. My grandfather used say that he was a little “off” ― hence, the very famous phrase that is still in use until this day and is enjoyed by millions around the world in reruns and, now, remastered on DVD and Blu-Ray with many new extras just in time for the Holidays. BP was known as scholar of Southern history and he frequented Opieate Dens where he wandered in the Mayberry of his mind.
My grandmother’s sister, Zim Zah Hotsee-Totsee Yee-Ha DiFunzio worked all her life in a shoe factory and never married. Family folklore says that this was because she had a dreaded fear of bananas that came from the fact that she was attacked by a bunch of them when she was two years of age. I have my doubts as to the truth of this because historians all agree that the sentient banana population was fully extinct by the time Auntie Hotsee was born. Throughout her life, however, she would run screaming from the room if anyone brought in mangos – go figure. I know that she had at least one great romance in her life: often she would fondly recall the time she had a courtship with one of her coworkers at the shoe factory. It didn’t work out, from what I’ve been told, because he was such a heel, although my cousin Rhubarb Winslow Mudflap Squidjuice said the man had sole. What we do know for sure is that he was a size 11, IYKWIMAITYD.
My older brother Belway Knapsack ‘Books’ Belvedere was born 12 years before me as a result of secret atomic experiments in the Bikini Islands [more on bikinis later – much more]. In 1972, he moved to Misteredistan, a small island country off the coast of Mainerun by retired Clydesdales where he was commissioned an officer in their Neighvy. I owe him a great many things including $600. He was a terrific influence. Books introduced me to the music of Richard ‘Footsie’ Wagner. To this day, I especially enjoy listening to his Prelude to Die Meistersinger and his Overture To Hart-To-Hart. There’s an interesting story about how Books got his middle name, but my parents refuse to tell me about it unless I pay them. This I refuse to do on principle. Books has been married since 1979 to Winderloo Waterloo Melon, a full-time missile delivery system and part-time gadfly for NATO.
From A Later Chapter:
I first met President John Fitzgerald Kennedy at a swinging party thrown by Bozo The Clown. I had just graduated from Nursery School and I was celebrating by being Marilyn Monroe’s footrest for the evening. Even though he had been elected Representative, Senator, and now President, Jack was still naïve about some things politically. For instance, he believed that he could win the votes of Italian women by playing ‘Hide The Salami’. Bobby was more astute, did less toot, and understood that the way to an Italian woman’s heart was by paying campaign operatives to cover their furniture in plastic.
Sinatra was there. I had been friends with him since gestation, as we shared a love for punching people in the mouth. Dean Martin showed-up late because he had been on a movie set all day shooting a walk-over part: the actors stepped over him as he lay on the floor trying to hold on. Sammy Davis was there as well, but I didn’t see him at first because he was standing in a dark corner of the room and not smiling – eye always liked him.