Mashed Potatoes and Marinara Sauce

Contributor: Jerry Guarino

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They say opposites attract. Well, not in all situations. Sometimes people from diverse backgrounds are attracted to each other, only to find their differences leading to incompatibility. It’s like foods. Mashed potatoes and marinara sauce are great ingredients, but together they just don’t mix.
Kelly Johnson grew up in the Midwest on a farm. Yes, she was a farmer’s daughter, but she left that life behind for college in Boston. Kelly and some of her girlfriends were in the North End for lunch one Saturday.
“Oh Kelly, you have to try the pizza here, like nothing you ever had in Wisconsin” said her best friend Angela.
“I’m ready. We have the good cheese, just not the sauce. I guess the sauce makes all the difference” Kelly replied. The young waiter walked toward their table as the foursome looked up.
Just like men” said Angela. The girls giggled.
Posso aiutarvi belle signore. May I help you beautiful ladies?”
They all noticed Kelly locked on to the waiter’s eyes. Angela smiled and whispered to Susan. “I think Kelly just fell in love.”
My friends tell me we have to try the pizza,” said Kelly. “What do you think?”
Very good choice. We won ‘Best in Boston’ the last three years,” said Vincent.
Well, then bring us the best one you have and a bottle of Chianti. And what is your name?”
My name is Vincent. I’ll be back with your drinks presto, shortly.”
Susan and Angela answered together. “Thanks Vincent” and then looked at Kelly.
What?” as she gave them a look.
We saw you looking at him. No one like that in the heartland?”
Susan walked over to the jukebox and made a choice. The song filled the air. “When the moon hits your eye, like a big pizza pie, that’s Amore.” The girls laughed while pointing to Kelly.
All right. Let’s not get carried away. I think he’s nice, that’s all.”
Yeah, nice. We know what that means.” The girls kidded Kelly for the next half hour as they ate. Eventually, they let her off the hook. “OK, Kelly we know you’re only discovering something they didn’t have back home, a genuine Italian boy.”
Be nice or I’ll marry him just to spite you. And you’ll have bridesmaid dresses that look like that.” She pointed to the green, white and red Italian flag in the corner next to a soccer team picture.
Vincent put the check on the table, smiling at Kelly, and thanked them for their business. “una splendida giornata, Have a wonderful day.”
Kelly took the check, insisting she pay for everyone. “You opened my eyes to wonderful Italian food. Let me pay this time.” There was no argument from her friends, college students living on a budget. They didn’t even notice when Kelly wrote her name and phone number on the bill.
That night Vincent called Kelly. She suggested a night at the Faneuil Hall Marketplace across from the North End. They quickly got acquainted, this town boy and the preppy coed from the heartland. By the end of the night, they were walking hand in hand and talking about their next date.
Unknown to her friends, Kelly started seeing Vincent on weekends after he got off from work. She knew they were an odd couple, but it was a nice diversion from the grind of papers and lecture halls, something to get through sophomore year with. She had time to find a suitable husband next year. For now, she just wanted to have fun. It had been months of meeting him in Boston when Vincent arranged an alternative place for dinner.
He met Kelly at the Harvard Square red line stop. They walked past the Harvard Coop and the famous newsstand. “Where are we going?” she said.
“I know a place on Dunster Street, around the corner. You’ll like it.” They walked up to a large yellow house with a crest and signet ring surrounding a nettle.
“This isn’t a restaurant Vincent. It’s some sort of Frat house.” Kelly was puzzled.
“Actually, it’s a coed final club. This is where I live.” Vincent saw Kelly’s face change from confusion to adoration.
“You go to Harvard? You never told me you went to Harvard.”
“Well, I wanted to make sure you liked me for the right reasons, not because my family owned a restaurant in Boston.”
It wasn’t until the wedding after graduation that Vincent found out her family owned the company that supplied pizza dough to his parent’s restaurant.
“Oops,” Kelly said to Vincent when he found out.
They lived happily ever after.

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Jerry Guarino’s short stories have been published by dozens of magazines in the United States, Canada, Australia and Great Britain. His latest book, "50 Italian Pastries", is available on and as a Kindle eBook. Please visit his website at
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