Tommy's Tales: Chasing Cadillacs
Updated: Sep 8, 2021
My grandfather was a character. You could always find him in a crowd. All you had to do was look for the largest group of people and you would find him, dead-center, making everyone laugh with his animated story-telling and one-liners. When I was a kid, I would sit, listen, and watch him as he told the his stories, amazed that he could keep them fresh with a new mannerism or exaggerated facial expression.
Grampa Tommy also had what I will refer to as a flair for drama. His reactions to the ridiculous, outrageous, sad, or infuriating were unlike any I have ever seen. He could raise his eyebrows so high that they would disappear past his hairline. His
While Grampa was telling his stories and living his regular day-to-day life, he didn't realize that his antics heavily influenced my own sense of humor and provided fodder for the stories that I would be telling now. One story that I think about on a regular basis is the story of how his brother, Mike, drove off without realizing that my grandfather's hand was caught in the heavy door of his Cadillac.
Uncle Mike was as funny as Grampa. We didn't see him too often because he lived in Florida but that made his visits more eagerly awaited. When Grampa and Uncle Mike got together, laughter was guaranteed. They told stories and cracked jokes nonstop. As I type this, I can remember sitting next to Grampa at the dining room table at Sunday dinner, my arms glued to the plastic and eyes darting back and forth between him and my uncle as I anticipated the story climaxes and punch lines. The fun really picked up after my grandmother put the Sambuca, nuts, fennel, and fruit on the table. The Tricarico Brothers Comedy Routine was the extra digestivo we needed after the previous 12 courses.
When Uncle Mike was in town, he would also stop by for abbreviated visits throughout the week. They would have their coffee while chain smoking cigarettes and eating Entenmann's coffee cake upstairs in my grandparents apartment. They'd talk about their travel plans and doctors appointments. After about an hour or so, Uncle Mike would announce his departure and we'd all find our way to his car. It wasn't a proper exit unless there was an entourage waving farewell from the skirt of the driveway.
The events of this particular morning went pretty much according to routine. Grampa Tommy and Uncle Mike gave a final hug and kiss and confirmed their plans for later that day. He closed the door for my uncle, who then immediately started to pull out of the driveway. As we watched my uncle pull away, we knew something was wrong.
My grandfather started walking alongside the car.
Was he following him?
Then he was jogging beside the car.
What the hell was going on?
Next thing we knew, he was running. He was also frantically yelling and waving his free hand.
Finally the car stopped in the middle of the street, a good 300 feet away from the house. Both doors flew open. Uncle Mike stepped out, trying not to laugh as my grandfather started jumping and howling about his finger. Grampa had closed his thumb in the enormous door of my uncle's Cadillac and went for a ride.
G-ddamn, Mike! Couldn't you hear me yellin'?!
No! The window was rolled up!
I was wavin', too!
Ya' know, I thought it was a little strange that you were wavin' so much.
Why the hell would I be wavin' and yellin' and chasin' your car?!
I dunno! Maybe you were sad to see me go!
If he was ever going to slap my uncle, that was the day. But instead, he took his bleeding thumb into the house so my mother could try to put it back together without a trip to the ER.
My uncle felt bad for a total of 5 minutes. When he realized Grampa wasn't going to lose his thumb, he went right back to busting his chops.
And Tommy's car chase has been in the story rotation ever since.