Saturday, August 8, 2009

So That's Why They Call It A "Wish" Sandwich.....

In Brian DePalma's "The Untouchables", Jimmy Malone, the Irish Chicago beat cop who joins forces with Elliot Ness and his men going after Al Capone, seems to turn the tables on the assassin from Capone's gang who has come to Malone's home to kill him. As the would-be killer approaches Malone from behind with his knife at the ready, Malone appears to be unaware of his presence, cranking up his Victrola. As the music builds to a crescendo, Malone turns, faces his enemy and utters the immortal line, "Isn't that just like a wop? Brings a knife to a gun fight." while leveling his sawed-off shotgun at him. Unfortunately for Malone, what the little fellow he thought had come to his home to kill him had - in fact - brought to the gun fight with him was Frank Nitti, resplendent in his white suit and hat and armed with a Tommy gun. I know not whether Sean Connery won the Academy Award on the strength of this scene alone, but I would be willing to wager that indeed he did.

I could not help but think of Jimmy Malone, Frank Nitti and that fine cinematic enterprise while reading the stories on-line yesterday of the lunchtime exploits of the Pilla family of Bridgewater Township, New Jersey. The next time you see one of those snarky commercials for Stouffer's frozen dinners or some such thing in which the value of "family meal time" is jammed down our throats like an over sized slab of vegetable lasagna, remember the Pillas.

On Wednesday, at the home that 49 y/o Anthony Pilla shares with his mother, Anthony and his brother apparently got into an argument, "about a sandwich for their mother." Allow that image to wash over your skull cap for a moment or two - two adults arguing over a sandwich to be consumed by a third adult. Now add into the mix that these two brothers got into an exchange that escalated to the point where the brother, "threw his cap and glasses at Anthony." As anyone who has fought in the Sandwich Wars can tell you, that is the almost universal declaration of bad intentions - tantamount to a cry of, "Get your F***ing hands off of my Miracle Whip B**ch!"

Thankfully for all concerned, Anthony apparently is an evenly disposed, mild-mannered middle-aged man. Someone not quite so mellow might have responded to this affront by doing something completely idiotic......like going into the basement of the home and retrieving a loaded weapon. That is in fact precisely what Anthony did. According to the affidavit filed in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Somerset County, "Anthony then went into the basement and returned with a loaded shotgun, a Remington 1100 LW .41 caliber." The Brothers Pilla proceeded to commence to a-rasslin' at which point Mama Pilla - who by this point in the festivities could be forgiven if she was wondering if it now too late to pawn these two off on Madonna or Angelina Jolie and was probably starving - picked up the shotgun and removed it from the house.

When the incident was over and the police had arrived and restored order or a reasonable facsimile thereof to the Pilla home, they discovered that Anthony's shotgun had the safety off and a round in the chamber. He told the police that he did not realize the safety was off and that he only intended to scare his brother with the gun - he did not intend to shoot him. What a relief! The police apparently did not ask Mr. Pilla what foods and/or food groups he would consider busting a cap in his brother's ass for but with Labor Day one month away and Thanksgiving and Christmas riding hard behind it, one suspects we may have our answer soon enough.

My favorite part of the story is this: Police did not release the name of his brother or say what kind of sandwich was at the center of the dispute. Not releasing the name of the hat-tosser seems a bit unfair to Mr. Pilla but presumably once you respond to someone taking the last knifeful of Grey Poupon out of the mustard jar by picking up a piece of Remington's steel, you have really kicked out from under you the "fair play" platform.

However, to me nothing beats though the official decision to NOT release what type of sandwich it was over which they were locked in potentially mortal combat. It is not as if the type of sandwich it was makes what these two gents did any more or less ludicrous, does it? Are people sitting at home reading about these two and thinking, "Well - it was a fresh mozzarella, sun dried tomato and pepper sandwich. That's worth shooting somebody for" or, conversely, "Olive loaf, what type of moron threatens to shoot it out over olive loaf?" Or maybe the police are hoping to spirit the sandwich away into Witness Protection - keeping it safe from the angry clutches of the Pilla boys.

With apologies to Jimmy Malone, I humbly offer the first rule of lunch at this family's home: make sure when the meal is over you go home alive. Here endeth the lesson.

Better yet, take it to go. You can always eat while you drive.

-AK

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