Theresa Petaccio is my mother. Because of the wayward choices of her youth, she, more than anyone, must bear the full brunt of my condition, and she has borne that tribulation valiantly, lovingly, for the whole of my existence. I never call. Her texts and emails wallow for days in the miasmic swamps of my inboxes. As with every one of my indiscretions, I feel a mix of spiritual lacking and high-density guilt about this, but, bizarrely, I cannot amend the situation, no matter my trying. As extraordinary mothers are apt to do, Theresa chooses to see past this, but not without letting me know what a little jerkface I am. And I can be, have been, a serious jerkface. My mother has been anything but. For sixteen years I was the most handsomest boy in school. I knew because she told me so. When I was sick, there was ginger ale, grill cheese, a drier-fresh bathrobe and my mother. When I was idiotic, there was head-shaking, resigned sighs of acceptance, and my mother. When I ran through that screen door and tumbled into a gyre of embarrassment, there was my mother, laughing at me. When boardwalk splinters found my appendages, there were tweezers, consolations and my mother. I owe much of my linguistic stylings to her classic aphorisms and dialectic stylings. “Tell that queerbo to go pound sand,” isn’t simply a sentence, but an expression of my mother’s identity, my sense of home, my most gleaming memories of childhood, near-adulthood, the now I now occupy. It is cliched to say that your mother is the best mother ever, ever. So I won’t say it, but I have, I do, in everything.
Interview Series Day 13: Theresa Petaccio
CP: Where and when were you born and where do you currently reside?
TP: Born in Toms River, New Jersey on February 13th,1963 and I currently reside in Seaside Park, New Jersey.
Note: Happy Birthday!
CP: What is your first memory?
TP: My first memory is being on the boardwalk and not being tall enough to read or sweep the stands full of quarters, but Uncle Sonny hollered the answer on the wheel,and I got to sweep all the quarters. All anyone saw was my little hand sweeping and I remember everyone laughing. No winner!!
CP: What is your animus or power animal?
TP: My power animal is a chinchilla. Rare and soft.
CP: What is your idea of the perfect ice cream?
TP: My idea of the perfect Ice Cream is Bananas Foster. Hot and cold together!
CP: What was the last movie you saw and how did it affect you?
TP: The movie about the kid who created Facebook. To see the coversations and vocabulary of such young people, and then to see their awkwardness and naivety made me feel anxious, sad. The movie affected me by seeing such how people are taken advantage of, and how money can’t buy happiness, or teach you to keep your dignity. It always comes with a cost.
Note: I believe my mom’s talking about The Social Network.
The Sentence Completion Portion of the Interview
CP: My name is Theresa Petaccio, whilst visiting the international space station to oversee the care of a million newly born babies, I discover a critical malfunction in the ship’s guidance systems. The space station is slowly drifting into the Earth’s gravitational field, and, according to my calculations, will crash directly into Holland, killing everyone in the country. I have two options: either initiate the self-destruct sequence and destroy the space station before impact, or use the self-destruct generator to launch the escape pod with all one million babies inside. I cannot do both. I ___________.
TP: If I had to, I would notify Holland to prepare for impact and then release the escape pod.
Note: Like my mom can speak Dutch.
CP: My name is Theresa Petaccio, and my greatest competitive triumph was ______.
TP: My greatest competitive triumph was and always will be the protection and love of my family.
Note: I was hoping for a Ranney School bowling team anecdote.
CP: My name is Theresa Petaccio, in my previous life I was _________.
TP: Coco Chanel.
CP: My name is Theresa Petaccio and I just won a billion Canadian dollars, I’m totally going to ________.
TP: Convert it to American Dollars and pay off all debt,leaving nothing for inheritance or for anyone!!
CP: My name is Theresa Petaccio, if I could live one day in the life of another person, that person would be ______.
TP: The girl marrying Prince William.
CP: What three secondary colors best describe you?
TP: The three secondary colors that best describe me are magenta, cyan, and yellow.
CP: Do you believe in God? Why not?
TP: Of course I believe in GOD!!!![sic].
CP: What are your top five movies of all time?
TP: Moonstruck. Philadelphia. Under the Tuscan Sun. A Christmas Story. The Notebook.
CP: What is your dream job (this includes any time period but excludes all forms of royalty, of course)?
TP: Curator of fine arts.
Note: CURATOR OF FINE ARTS.
CP: What supernatural power would you most like to possess?
TP: To travel at the speed of light.
CP: You have been elected The President of the United States in a landslide win over George our mailman in the 2016 election. What policies would you enact? Which would you discontinue?
TP: As President, I would enact a policy that restricts athletes, rockstars, and the like from receiving ridiculous amounts of money. I would also establish a cap on the price of gasoline. Also, I would allow parents to determine what teachers get to remain in the school system, receive raises, are let go.
CP: What rockstar do you most identify with and why?
TP: Cher!!! She only gets better with age!
CP: What would you do if you knew you were going to die in three hundred years?
TP: If my family didn’t have the same option, I wouldn’t want to live that long.
CP: Three dinner guests living or dead, who would they be?
TP: Jackie O, Audrey Hepburn, and, of course, Ree-Ree.
CP: Redo one moment in your life?
TP: Accidentally pushing my sister down the stairs causing her to lose her two front teeth.
The Word Association Portion of the Interview
TP: Black & White!
The Favorite Anythings Portion of the Interview
CP: What is your favorite childhood memory?
TP: So many. A Christmas at our home in Cherry Hill, when I was little. I just remember it took forever to open the presents and how happy my sister Michele was.
CP: What is your favorite song lyric of all time?
TP: Depends on my mood!!!![sic].
CP: What is your favorite branch of government?
TP: I don’t have one. All government departments are corrupt.
CP:What is your favorite part of being my mom?
TP: Everything! It is a gift to be your mom!![sic].
Theresa’s Question for Carmen’s End of the Month Self-Interview
Q13: If you had to chance one trait of yours, which would it be?