by Ken Allen

Giavanni runs a family business, an Italian restaurant in a tony town. Originally from somewhere in Italy by way of Chicago, he fled the fast life in Las Vegas serving celebrities to raise a family in the 'burbs. He has what his compatriots call "connections." And it shows. He is a trim, striking silver-haired gentleman in his sixties, not too tall. He forever seems to be in a tuxedo, as are his restaurant staff of children, nephews, nieces and other loyalists in the family business. Always the hail-fellow-well-met, he counts, as one of his friends, me, simply because I eat lunch at his restaurant occasionally. Such a place. The atmosphere at Giavanni's is quiet linen all around: folded napkins, silver flatware, china, flowers, dim lights and candles. Just so.

At lunch one day in the adjacent piano bar cafe, I mentioned to Giavanni that my son, a gifted but rugged-looking violinist, was looking for a summer job. I asked if he had any need for a strolling violinist. Giavanni was delighted. His gypsy violinist of many years had just retired. Without even auditioning him, Giavanni said he could have the job: "Have him should stop by to see me on Saturday night when he's in town."

Saith Giavanni: "I will teach him how to stroll. I will find for him a fine white blousy shirt. With long hair and his goatee, he will look perfect as a gypsy. Trust me, I will take good care of him-- and he will make lots of money!"

One Saturday night my son came home from school not far away. It was late. He had just a few minutes to meet Giavanni. So at 10:30 at night, tresses to his shoulders matching a stylish goatee, and dressed in baggy pants with a loose flannel shirt to his knees, he headed for the restaurant. He did not carry his violin in its oversized case. He didn't want to audition.
He steps out of the darkness into the piano bar of the dim restaurant--it is after closing, and smart-looking
young men and women are mopping tiled marble floors. A meeting is going on in a shadowy back alcove.

A small mob of the young men rush him. They are dressed to the nines, some with pony tails holding slick
black hair behind their ears.

"Cana we help yo'?"

Unflappably he mumbles, "I'm here to see Giavanni about a job."

"Uh, well, he's kinda busy right now, ya' see?"

"Um, he's kinda expecting me. I'm like here to see him about a job he wants me to do."

"Uh, what'sa yo' name?"

"He doesn't know me. But he knows my father. I play the violin."

"Uh, you sure? So, you waita here, ok?"

They disappear. A few moments later Giavanni appears, in all his sartorial splendor.  He advances, a bit cautiously at first, then after a few words of salutation, he is all smiles and grasping handshakes.

"Ah, so you are my friend's son? A son of my friend is my friend. I know all about you. Come in, come in.

"Ah! Don't mind my kids. We're justa having a meeting. Canna I offer you something? Let's talka about a job.
So you are looking for a job? I hear you play the violin pretty good. I have justa the job for you. Why you canna start right away, as soon as you are free. Ah, the hair. You looka perfect for this job. So handsome. I will makea you a gypsy. I will showa you how to dress. I will get for you a wonerful white blousy shirt with the big, puffy sleeves over at my friend's tux shop. I will teach you how to play, teach you how to approach a table. I will teach you how to tell when my guests don't wanna be bothered--and how to move about, gliding from table to table. Oh, you are so good looking. You are gonna make lots of money, ya see. When canna you start?"

All this without an audition.
When he got home later that night, he asked, "Mom, there's something about the way he talks."

"His accent? Dad says he is Italian from Chicago, you know. Do you mean he talks like Antonio your crazy Italian music teacher?"

"No, Mom. Like he's the Godfather."

When he came out of the darkness that night, I think it was a good thing he was not carrying his violin case.


(c)1999 KRA