Everyone thinks they know how to talk Bronx. You just say, “Da Bronx”, right? Or “get some cwaaaawfee at toity-toid and toid”. But you are so, so wrong. Al, who grew up from age 10 onward just a few blocks from Yankee Stadium in the South Bronx, will never lose that Bronx edge. It’s not really an accent so much as an attitude. An attitude he has passed on to his children. This year, Al and our oldest daughter made the turkey for Thanksgiving. I overheard my daughter sharing the cooking secret with her father in a language he could understand, to whit: “Daddy, we’re going to marinate the crap out of this sucker!” Note: after the marinating was done, the sucker was quite delish.
It gets even more hilarious when Al waxes eloquent to the family about how everyone should use the f-bomb sparingly and only for good reason. “Girls, you should never just curse gratuitously! That is rude and unnecessary! Speak politely to your neighbors!” Five minutes later, though, it’s business as usual with Al cursing merrily away at the television or Facebook or any number of other inanimate objects that get in his way. “What the f*ck? Why are those a**holes upstairs always throwing furniture around? Did you see that f*ckin lowlife on the corner this morning?” Yes, it just comes naturally to Al.
You don’t have to do a lot of extraneous smiling if you’re from the Bee-Ex. Give those facial muscles a rest! This works best when you are driving. Rent a Zipcar©, then sit back and watch as Al fights with the GPS. “Are you kidding me? No, I don’t want to take the f*king Bruckner, you know that bitch is always f*cked up this time of day!!” There really should be an alternate form of GPS for Bronx drivers. No more neutral “recalculating….” How about something more direct? “What the..? Who told you to turn there? I didn’t tell you to turn there! Un-Ba-F*cking*Leevable! Now you gotta go all the f*cking way back around here, stoopid! Turn left! Turn left!”
The one thing people from the Bronx hate above all others are phonies and hypocrites. Don’t say it’s a nice day if it’s raining. Don’t try one of those tight little passive-aggressive smiles if someone is pissing you off. Here’s a story. Back before Yankee Stadium was torn down to build the new sushi-and-baseball emporium that stands where the House that Ruth Built used to be, people who actually lived in the neighborhood could afford to go see games. And they went. But don’t think that just because they were Yankee fans, that meant they loved all Yankee players. They had a strong sense of New York pride. There was one player, I forget his name, who had spewed his hatred of New York City all over social media and sports interviews. Whine, whine, why didn’t I get signed out where the sky is big and people carry automatic weapons to church, instead of accepting several million dollars a minute to suffer here in The Rotten Apple? Well, you can’t let something like that stand unchallenged. This guy was a pitcher, and was having a pretty good year. That didn’t matter. As soon as he stuck his head out of the dugout like a frightened meercat looking for hawks, the fans set up a relentless wave of boos and catcalls. They threw anything not nailed down at this guy’s head. Fans who were weary of watching a 15-1 ballgame in the 4th inning and were talking about leaving early would suddenly spring to their feet, pure joy lighting up their faces, when the announcement came that the pitcher was going to be Nature Boy in the next inning. A wave of deep, guttural howls ricocheted around Yankee Stadium while popcorn boxes and peanut shells filled the air. It still makes Al tear up with civic pride when he thinks about it.
And, for the record, it’s pronounced more like “thuuuh-ty-thud” and not “toidy-toid”.