In the platinum cheap seats, the mood was indeed one of good-natured dislike rather than holy war hatred; bonus points to the Mets fan who intermittently waved a sign referring to their Mr. Damon as JOHNNYCAKES.
—”The Cool of the Evening,” May 22, 2006
One of the things my friend Charlie Hangley says he'll remember about Shea is the way I would walk toward his perch in the Upper Deck on Saturdays and give him “the Sopranos greeting: 'Ho! Dere he is!'” before launching into my tirade of the week. I remember it fondly, too, even if I'm fairly certain I never, ever used that exact phrase. But because I like Charlie's version better than whatever it was I actually might have said (I used to think the ideal fantasy camp would be held not in St. Lucie but at Satriale's, and all the campers would spend a week immersed in This Thing Of Ours), I feel compelled to pass the following along.
Tuesday night Stephanie and I went to do our weekly grocery shopping at our nearby King Kullen. I stopped in the recycling area to crush my soda bottles and receive a voucher for my deposits when I noticed a guy who looked a great deal like Vito from The Sopranos out in front smoking a cigarette. This being Long Island, we have our share of men who look a great deal like Vito from The Sopranos, so I didn't think much of it.
Until we were inside the store and I saw that it was, in fact, the guy who played Vito from The Sopranos. He was peddling his pasta sauce — though I've been led to believe the proper term is gravy — and Bada Bing bric-a-brac to not exactly a turnaway crowd in the appetizing/produce section. He was at a table underneath a sign urging one and all to meet Vito from The Sopranos. One customer was schmoozing him as we shopped in the general vicinity.
You can't think you saw the guy who played Vito from The Sopranos and not acknowledge him when he turns out to be who you thought you saw, especially when the one customer schmoozing him has left and the guy who played Vito from The Sopranos is up and restless, examining the cheese & cracker platters and other appetizing delicacies. Hence, before we took off for detergents, air fresheners and the other wonders of Aisle 2, I made my move.
“Hi,” I said. “I just wanted to say we really enjoy your work.”
“Thank you, brother,” the guy who played Vito from The Sopranos said, shaking my hand well but not so hard as to strangle it. “I really appreciate it.”
After the slightest of pauses, he continued.
“Would you be interested in some sauce?”
I really wasn't. I tried to pass the buck to Stephanie, as in, “Are we interested in some sauce?” but that wasn't going to work. Stephanie's too nice to play bad cop.
“It comes with an autographed picture,” the guy who played Vito from The Sopranos added.
I didn't really want an autographed picture either. I wasn't averse to having one, but it wasn't on our shopping list. Even still, I realized right away that you really can't engage the guy who played Vito from The Sopranos and leave him hanging. So Stephanie pointed to one of the jars of sauce, the Sunday Sauce as opposed to the Roasted Garlic & Eggplant (which would likely not agree with me), and the guy who played Vito from The Sopranos handed it to her. He was careful to note he was a chef before he was an actor, so we could be confident that this wasn't just a case of some TV schlub making a few bucks off his fairly famous face.
With the jar handed over, the guy who played Vito from The Sopranos peeled a picture — one of Vito, Tony and Christopher — off a stack and prepared to make good on the rest of the bargain. I asked the inscription be made out to both of us, and if we ever open a diner, you know what we'll be hanging behind the cash register.
The guy who played Vito from The Sopranos seemed grateful for the sale (at $6.99 per 32-ounce jar, so would I). He shook hands with Stephanie, then me again, and we wished Mr. Joe Gannascoli a very happy Thanksgiving.
Not incidentally, the same to all of you.
Speaking of great television drama, look to SNY for a marathon of most gripping Subway Series action Thursday afternoon: Dave Mlicki at 1:00, Matt Franco at 4:00, Dae-Sung Koo at 7:00. Don't know about the guy who played him, but Vito probably didn't enjoy any of those if you recall the episode in which he offered Finn something more than a jar of sauce.