The I Ching of “The Godfather”

“And may their first child be a masculine child…”
I’ve watched “The Godfather” more than I care to admit this month. It started with a weak moment, and a child resting on the couch and recovering from ear surgery. He was looking through the movies available on demand, and paused on “The Godfather.”
“I’ve always wanted to watch this,” he said.
I frowned. “It’s rated ‘R’ and you’re only thirteen.”
“It looks so cool.”
I thought about it, and realized that an R rating years ago is more like a PG rating today. Or at least that’s the lie I told to justify the fact that I felt bad for my poor, doped-up son, and wanted him to find something to keep his mind off his sore ear for a few hours.
“Fine, but if you get scared we’re turning it off.”
I didn’t scare him. Not even a little. Not even the part with the bloody horse’s head in the bed, which actually scared me a bit.
“Are you sure you’re okay with this?”
He nodded, mesmerized. “This is the best movie I have ever seen.”
“It’s not personal. It’s business.”
We watched it again, the next day, and during the wedding scene he said, “I wish we were Italian.”
I looked at him in surprise. “We are Italian.”
He gave me a very patronizing look. “I wish we were moreItalian. Like the Corleones. I think I want to be a mafia guy.”
This led to a discussion about how that would be a really bad idea, that mostly consisted of me saying it was a bad idea and my son ignoring me. My protests fell on deaf ears. He was hooked.
“I think I look a little like Michael Corleone. He’s a good bad guy.”
“I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse…..”
“Today my teacher said it was the first time she’d heard an 8th grader singing the theme to ‘The Godfather.’ Isn’t that funny?”
I cringed. “Hilarious.”
I could just imagine what was going through that teacher’s head. As much as I’d try to tell myself the movie was fine, it still was violent and scary and there was that one shot of Apollonia taking off her nightgown. My son knew whenever it was coming and covered his eyes, but that still didn’t make me feel like this was one of my prouder parenting moments.
“Can we watch it again?” he asked.
I sighed. “Only after you finish your math.”
I figured I’d bought myself a few hours at least, but the math homework was finished in record time, and we were back to the adventures of Vito Corleone. The movie is three hours long, but it doesn’t feel like it. At all.
“Badabing, badaboom…”
My youngest, besides being a Godfather addict, is also a singer. Oddly enough, he’s performed quite a few Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra songs. He’s always had a bit of an Italian/Rat Pack/Lounge Singer vibe going on. While singing once at the Dean Martin Festival in Steubenville, he met Lou Martini, Jr., the only actor to be in both “The Godfather” and “The Sopranos.” In “The Godfather” Lou played Tom Hagen’s oldest son, Frank. This gave us a reason to watch the film yet again, to try to spot Lou Martini, Jr.
We did spot him. Several times. He was adorable.
“This is so exciting,” said my son. “It’s almost like almost being in the movie since I met someone who was in it.”
“Leave the gun, take the cannoli.”
My oldest son came home from college, and we were swept up in a whirl of Christmas parties and holiday fun. “The Godfather” faded into a slightly distant memory, until my oldest son began looking for a movie to watch. He paused on “The Godfather.”
“I’ve never seen it before.”
Uh, oh. “Wouldn’t you rather watch the entire Firefly collection? We’d planned to finish that this week.”
He shrugged. “I do love Firefly, but…..”
I sighed and gave up. “You should watch ‘The Godfather.’ It’s important. I don’t know why exactly, but it’s important. All men love it.”
“It’s three hours long. Geeze.”
“It doesn’t feel that long, trust me.”
And three hours later, with his eyes glazed over and full of passion for the Corleones, my son reached his final and inevitable conclusion. “I loved it. I really loved it.”
“I knew you would.”
He was so excited he actually had trouble sitting still. “I mean I really loved it. And it explains so much – so many references I didn’t understand before. I need to watch the second one. Do we have any pasta? I think I want a cannoli.”
The next day I found a cannoli making kit at Costco, the perfect late Christmas present.

“A man who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man.”
Maybe you’ll question my parenting choices, or wonder how much time we wasted this month watching a movie (over and over and over again), but we actually (gulp) enjoyed it. We’ve spent our free time snuggling on the couch, talking, and watching something that really is a classic. I have to admit, living in a house full of men, that I do have a high tolerance for this sort of movie. Our idea of a Christmas flick is “Die Hard” (don’t judge – it does take place on Christmas Eve).
As I sat on the couch, pondering why we liked this movie so much, my middle son turned to me and said, “It’s the I Ching.”
I almost dropped my popcorn. “Did you just quote ‘You’ve Got Mail’ to me?”
If I can get my sixteen year old to make an obscure reference to a chick flick, I must be doing something right.