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August 12, 2009


Now some might find this derogatory, offensive, and ever a bit bigoted, but I assure you it's not. Growing up in in the suburbs of New York City, Westchester to be exact, we had a very good dichotomy of people around us. But the ones that stick out the most, the ones that had the most character, the ones that were absolutely stereotypical, were the Guidos and the Yentas (or J.A.P. as we called them back in the day). I come from such a union. A Guido and a Yenta. So no hate is being flung at anyone here, just a humorous look at the differences, similarities and stereotypes that make them who they are.

Growing up in a ½ & ½ house was very entertaining. I had the chance to experience 2 different cultures, but oddly enough they were almost the same.

The Italian side: White tank-tops also know as guinea T's or wife beaters. Big huge bulky cars, the Cadillac & the Olds. Sunday dinners that started around 2pm. Gold rope chains with a cross, an Italian horn or both. The women with big hair, big nails and really strong NYC accents. Everyone had a “y” at the end of their name, even if it wasn't supposed to have one. The only time my dad was called Joey was buy his extended family, and we had several Joeys, Tonys, Charlies, Mikeys and so on. I was called Stevie, to this day I hate being called Stevie, but some people still do, and it aggravates the shit out of me.

Then there were the guido and guidette cousins, I mean total Bronx Italian Stereotypes. The boys trying to grow mustaches at the age of 10. All having mullets, gold chains and wearing weightlifting pants with Gold's Gym sweatshirts and Hi-top Reebok's. The older ones driving a Monte Carlo, a Trans Am or an IROC, more specifically with dark tinted windows & T-tops. Driving around showing off their cars, with 80's club music blaring from trunk filling speakers (songs like Boom, Boom, Boom Let's Go Back to My Room, you know you know the song) to the opposite sex. Think of it as a National Geographic Special on how to attract the opposite sex, with British commentary and all. The smell of Drakkar at the multi-plex far outlasted the smell of popcorn. The there was the Z-Cavaricci's, the Capezio shoes, the unbuttoned shirts. I could go on, but I think you get the point.

My guidette cousins had an excessive amount of everything. Nails, Hairspray, Make-up, Earrings, Acid-wash jeans. And gold all over, gold rings, gold nameplates, gold chains, gold anklets, gold hoop earrings and gold bracelets. Everything and I mean everything had a name on it, their name, their boyfriends name both of their names. It's like they were marked property. I still feel to this day the the '80's guidette is responsible for a hole in the ozone. There was enough Aqua-Net being used in the Tri-State area it's amazing we could breathe back then. I mean you go to give them a hug hello and their hair would literally scrape your face . And they always “ran” in packs, you never ever ever saw a guidette alone, anywhere, there was at least 2 of them at all times. Cropped jackets with big shoulder pads, hair out to there and jeans so tight they left nothing to the imagination.

Enter The Yenta, AKA The J.A.P.

My Pelham Parkway Jewish side of the family was not large at all, you could even say it was tiny. It consisted of my Papa (George), Nana (Betty) and Aunt (Ellen), and of course my mother (please read Mommy Dearest for a bit more background). So the Yenta-dom was learned from three females who were all the same but totally different. They had an art of talking behind other peoples back. But they also did not take shit from anyone, if it was dished out they would whine you to death. And believe me you don't want to be whined to death. The sound is much like a 2 year old asking why, why, why, why. The Yenta is relentless, cunning and manipulative.

Unlike the Italian side the Jewish side of the family was extremely modest, almost stereotypical to a fault. Cheap, generic and bland. Oy!

So fast forward to the 80's where everyone had big hair and the like. The young Yentas have evolved into the J.A.P. (Jewish American Princess).Yes, I know, I don't want to hear it from anyone. Young Jewish women called themselves that, thanks to their Yenta moms. The J.A.P. shopped at the Gap, Benetton, and any other retailer that catered to the “preppy” look. They still had high hair, the jeans weren't always tight, the lipstick was pale pink and the gold chains were modest. College sweatshirts, L.L. Bean Bleuchers and Polo shirts with the collar up were the dominant outfits. They also roamed in packs, typically at the mall, chomped gum and had a bit of an I'm better than you attitude. Now as with any social group some were more severe and steeped in the life than others. Personally, the ones from Long Island were at the top of that food chain. That is why I avoided the Bridge and Tunnel crowd later on in life. But that's another story.

So all in all there are little nuances between the two stereotypes. This was the majority types of women that I was surrounded with. And I never considered myself a Guido, even though I had my moments. Yes, I occasionally shopped at Chess King, I admit it. But that phase lasted about a year, OK well maybe more. But I eventually turned Preppy and never looked back.

So whether you're a guido or guidette, a prep or a J.A.P., be proud of you you are and don't give a shit what anyone else thinks of you. We all have a Chess King moment in our past. Who gives a shit, it's the past, just don't drag it into the present to affect the future.

More to come..........