Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Rocco Boccaforte

I've wanted to write about Rocco Boccaforte for years. Every time I would decide to write about him once and for all something would stop me. Often it was the fear that he would put a contract out on me if he ever found out. Other times it just didn't seem like the story was over quite yet, but now it is and now I'm going to write about him.

Last weekend a "Celebration of Life" was held at a local steakhouse popular with our nouveau riche high rollers. It was Rocco's favorite restaurant when he was in town. He liked to go there to be seen. I didn't go to the party and neither did my parents. We weren't invited and wouldn't have been welcome. When he died he wasn't on good terms with my parents, though at one point they'd been very close.

I don't know where my parents met Rocco. It's hard to say with them, when and where and how they acquire people. Most of my parents' friendships are often sudden, intense, all consuming relationships. They seem to come out of nowhere and then, at once, it's as if they've always known someone; that life without the friend is inconceivable. Then, something will happen and the person will be gone from their lives entirely. It's been like this my whole life and I can't really speculate on why they have these intense, often brief friendships. I can only say that there is a definite and extensive pattern and that Rocco was a part of it. By the point Rocco arrived, loudly and extravagantly, into my parents' lives I was used to this. I knew his presence would be short lived. I knew not to ask questions about where people came from or what happened when they disappeared. I don't care. I don't get attached to my parents' friends and I don't want to get involved.

And, because I know my mother is reading this, it's important to add that not all of their friendships are like this. They do have friends they've known for many years and will know for many more. Good friends. Kind friends. Loyal friends. It's just that there are always the people who suddenly explode on their scene and burn out just as quickly. These friendships, Rocco's especially, seem like the friendships between middle school girls - wildly passionate, hedonistic, full of power plays, issues of loyalty, betrayals. The drama is the same as that of eight graders, only here there's more at stake. Usually it's large amounts of cash attached to dreams of even more. Often, money destroys everything. Maybe that's what happened with Rocco. I don't want to know. Ultimately I think Rocco was a sick, sad person and that's what really ended things.

I think my parents met Rocco in 2002, but that's an estimate. It might have been earlier than that. Perhaps he was the friend of a friend. Maybe someone recommended him for a deal. Maybe they just met him one night out in a swanky Italian restaurant and shared a few bottles a wine. It doesn't matter.

I could understand their attraction to him. Rocco was huge. Everything about him was enormous. Tall, unapologetically obese, Rocco shouted instead of spoke. He was outrageously decadent, attention getting and gregarious. His appetite for everything - food, drink, whores, money - was insatiable. He was a living tall tale and he was screamingly funny, partying like a rock star. He washed down pills with bottles of Patron, then inhaled tureens of stewed tripe, platters of penne alla vodka, loaves soaked in olive oil.

"One day I'll find myself writing about this man, " I said the first day I met him.

"Sweetheart, you're gonna write about me. I know it. You could write a frickin' book about me. Just wait 'til I'm dead," he'd say to me.

When he called me "sweetheart" it sounded like "sweet-hot." Rocco was from Brooklyn.

He claimed his mother was the sister of one of the most notorious mobsters of all time. He prided himself on his crime-family lineage, but pretended to keep it secret, only revealing his heritage to his closest friends, but really, he told everyone. Everyone knew. I don't know if this was true. I've become so jaded living in South Florida. I've heard people come up with so many stories about who they are or were or want to be that I've come to just assume that everything I hear is bullshit until someone proves me wrong. I need to see it to believe it. I never saw it with Rocco, but I watched it every Sunday on "The Sopranos." I thought Rocco watched too much TV and had delusions of Satriale's Pork. But maybe it was all true.

In a house with gold fixtures and faux finishes, Rocco lived in a suburban gated community. It was full of wide lawns and narrow minds. You know. It's the kind of place where fifty year old men like Rocco drove slowly behind their twenty year old trophy wives as they jog, to make sure the girls are really out jogging and not blowing the guy across the street. The one who made all his money on a pyramid scheme.

Aurora Boccaforte had been married to Rocco since she was in her early twenties. When I met her she was 28 and miserable, having just finished her undergrad at a local university. She was a sickly size zero, over tanned and looked at least ten years older than she was. No amount of bronzer could cover her grey complexion. I soon learned that she had suffered from bulimia for so long that she'd lost her top, front teeth and had implants that kept falling out from bone loss. She lived on vodka and diet tonics and a half a plain, grilled chicken breast a day, but she dressed beautifully in all couture. I used to call her Carrie Bradshaw because of her outfits, always with five inch Manolos, the toes of which could stab straight through a sternum. She looked like Brittany Murphy at her most wan and blonde.

It was obvious that these two were not a couple in love. They were a business deal. Aurora was different from every other gold digger I had ever met though and for this, I really liked her. Aurora was smart, genuinely so and she made the most brilliant move I've ever seen out of a trophy wife. She used her husband's money to get herself an education. She had enough sense to know that when she got old enough, Rocco would drop her for someone younger and hotter. She knew they were only in business temporarily and that she needed to secure her future and that she wanted to be independent. Now, Aurora is a doctor.

I really didn't want to like her, but I could have an actual conversation with her. We were the same age. She was actually nice and she wasn't a dumbass, although she obviously had her share of dysfunction. She had a messed up family, but then again, who doesn't?

I knew something was up when she asked me if I could have anything for my birthday what would it be.

"A Kitchen Aid stand up mixer," I said.

Two weeks later she bought it for me. Then she went to New York and brought me back a Kate Spade purse. I thought the extravagant gifts were odd but they were nothing compared to what she was buying for herself. I heard that she had spent almost two hundred thousand dollars in two months. Soon after she and Rocco were over. Aurora had her own apartment on the beach. I had my purse and mixer. Rocco told us that Aurora ran off with her trainer, a rich Jewish boy from my former place of employment, who was supported by his parents while he spent his days in the gym.

Two weeks later Rocco had someone else too. He couldn't be alone.

(more to come on this story...)


Anonymous said...

This is brilliant stuff. You could write about anything you want.

electricdaisy said...

I agree! I love these stories. Can't wait for the next installment. I certainly hope that Aurora realized through her education that she had a real problem and got help. Sounds like she's hard to do doctorin' when you're tanked, I think.

Anonymous said...

turn off american idol.... write more!!!! : )

CC said...

Oooh, I just love these stories with more than one installment to them. They keep me on the edge!

Anonymous said...

I love the Soprano's. It's on right know actually. Thanks to DVRs.

Green said...

I'm hooked.

That damn expat said...

I NEED to hear more about Rocco!

Amy said...

This is fascinating stuff. Are you still in touch with Aurora?

Jean_Phoenix said...

I really love these stories also - they really are fun to read and always end too soon. Thank you.

NeekoalinAZ said...

Yea! I love these kinds of stories! And I LOVE LOVE LOVE the old stuff too. I thank God I was able to read them all before you took them down, but how I wish on slow days they were still up so I could flip through archives. Those were the days my friend! But I would read a dictionary if you wrote it, so keep going!

mbahawk said...

LOL at another great character name!

translates to Rocky the Loudmouth, right?

gulfsidebo said... you have a picture of Rocco you can email me? I think I might have known him. No kidding. I'm not sure if it was the same Rocco though. I never knew my Rocco's last name.

JoeinVegas said...

Better be careful, Rocco might still be able to reach out and get you.

Joy said...

goddamn, I love your writing.

Also, everything that NeekoalinAZ said.

Kara said...

Don't leave us hanging!!! aargh! :)

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