Out of Body (and Mechanical) Experiences
Leave the Gun, Take the Ravioli

by Thomas Greco, Publisher


Tom Greco learns to shoot a gun, falls in love again.

Last summer, when the world was going to crap and there seemed like there was a protest, riot or demonstration on every street corner in the country, I (like many Americans) felt the need to get some more protection for my family. So at the age of 60, I decided to buy a handgun for the first time in my life.

Now, when I need advice on weapons, I look to one man and one man only: Edward R. Day of Collision Restoration in Fairfield. Eddie is not only knowledgeable about weapons, but he is also a human encyclopedia on World War II (his dad was an ace fighter pilot who shot down Nazis). So, who better to ask?

Eddie was more than happy to help me. In fact, he and a couple of friends (Bobby and Kenny) took me out to my first shooting range to practice. Now, I have held a shotgun but never a handgun, so this was an unusual experience for me. When we arrived at the range, the owner came up to Eddie and the guys, and he apparently knew them very well. I was definitely in the right company. Once we started shooting, it took me a while to get comfortable, but eventually, I actually hit the target instead of the wall behind it.

Afterwards, the guys wanted to go to dinner. And I thought the bullets were going to be the scariest part of the night! As you know by now, I am the pickiest eater on earth. But these guys had taken their time and spent their money to teach me how to shoot, so I couldn’t suggest something like hot dogs or pizza. And if I did, Eddie would likely say (as he does EVERY TIME we go out to eat), “You are the worst f#&king Italian in this world.”

Nonetheless, the guys decided on going to an Italian restaurant called Stephanie’s in Caldwell. Since it was right smack in the middle of the pandemic, there really weren’t that many choices anyway, so I had to go along.

Once we sat down, I looked at Eddie with eyes that said, “I don’t like anything on this menu.” He just threw the bread at me and said, “Fill yourself up with this.” Man, I was having déjà vu. My dad and older brother used to do the same exact thing to me when I was a little kid. But I wasn’t that bad, as a little kid. In fact, until my sister Diane got her driver’s license, I actually ate what my mom put on the table. And that included some Italian food.

Monday night was pasta night in the Greco household. My mom would make spaghetti and meatballs and her homemade sauce (gravy?). And she would “make” my favorite: frozen Celentano raviolis. Everyone else would eat the spaghetti. Me? I gobbled up those 12 round mounds of dough and ricotta cheese with just a dot of sauce (gravy?). Of course, it was the sauce that made it. My mom was a great cook. I loved her sauce.

I hadn’t had ravioli since my mom passed away in 1988. My sister Gloria attempted to get me to try hers one time, but the sauce (gravy?) wasn’t the same, despite her ranting.

So, there I was, trapped at an Italian restaurant. I certainly didn’t want to insult these guys – especially since they were packing heat. But I was starving, and the bread wasn’t gonna do it. My only option on the menu was ravioli.

When it arrived piping hot a few minutes later, I took my first bite…Holy shit! It was amazing! It tasted EXACTLY like my mom’s sauce (gravy?)! Eddie almost fell off his chair, while Bobby and Kenny took their fingers off their triggers. I finished the whole meal in about three minutes and ordered a second plate.

A few weeks later, I was a registered handgun owner and a weekly customer at Stephanie’s.

Maybe during the next crisis, I’ll start eating London Broil again.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Want more? Check out the December 2021 issue of New Jersey Automotive HERE!