People who are intimately familiar with the Biggest Little like to talk about the six degrees of separation factor here (but, of course in Vo Dilun’s case, that would be two degrees of separation). It is not unusual to have someone try to introduce you to someone, “Hey Bill, do you know Larry?” To which the tactless answer would be, “Yeah, I slept with him four years ago.”
Is this just because of our small geography or because Biggest Little locals never leave? This phenomenon should be researched by someone, but not Phillipe & Jorge. We’re too busy trying to sleep with Larry.
Everyone has stories that reverberate with the two degrees of separation issue. P&J recall that once, while visiting friends in Denver, we were on top of a small mountain when another car approached with Vo Dilun plates. When the people in the car got out we approached them, and it took less than five minutes to establish a number of people we knew in common. The way to do this is to say, “What city?” When they reply, “West Warwick,” you then shoot out a name like, “Do you know Fleety Sourbutt?” to which they will reply, “No, but I worked with his sister at Ann & Hope.”
When golfing in Florida, P&J once went three straight days at three different courses around West Palm Beach getting randomly hooked up for a foursome with two guys from Vo Dilun, with whom we naturally had mutual acquaintances back home. This is the going record, we believe, for taking the traveling “I know a guy” circus on the road. This far-flung golf course magic has happened many times over the years.
But perhaps the most memorable was when a friend of ours, a retired Italian barber named Rico from Silver Lake, joined us at Okaheelee Country Club in West Palm. We had a foursome made up at the starter’s hut by a very quiet, good-looking fellow who resembled Dean Martin, who told us he was an assistant golf pro as well as a dance instructor. This, when extrapolated using the renowned and proven Vo Dilun 2+2 calculation, clearly meant to us he was a gigolo. Three holes into the round, after a little prodding, we discovered he, too, was from Vo Dilun and grew up on Federal Hill. Our Italian pal then began grilling him with questions like “You know Billy Meatballs? How about Tommy Tortellini?” Naturally our Dean Martin impostor revealed he (of course) had known them since childhood, and the rest of the round was played with dialogue that resembled something out of an episode of “The Sopranos,” with back-and-forths like, “Gino still got that silver Caddy? Fuckin’ guy was loaded and never picked up a dinner check in his life. Yeah, he did some time for B and E after high school, but now he’s runnin’ with the big dogs. He married Gina, but she got fat, and now he’s screwin’ anything that moves.”
A Little Rhody hybrid in this genre is tied to the traditional Biggest Little way of giving directions, which relies upon using references to places that no longer exist, like ‘Take a left where the Mobil station used to be, and when you hit the corner where there was that little Mexican restaurant, hang a right.” The human side of that local quirk evolves to establish you are talking about the same person you both know: “Is she the one who used to waitress at Leo’s? Yeah, saw her at the Hot Club last week.” Or, “That the guy who worked with Lupo when he had the painting company? My brother did that, and we used to go out for a few beers with the guy. Yeah, he’s doing carpentry now, lives up in North Providence.” Half the time you haven’t seen the person in question who you both had known for years but, the connection has been made, and you could have him on the phone swapping stories in five minutes.
Actually, Phillipe and Jorge first met by way of a cosmic variation on the “know a guy” thread. Phillipe was bartending at the late, lamented Leo’s, the ProHo hipster haven, and got to know a woman named Barbara Conway, who worked upstairs. (He was soon to learn that Barbara was a.k.a. Simone Cuc, one of The Fabulous Motels infamous dancers, the Tantalizing Tampoons.) She told P, “You have to meet this friend of mine named Rudy. You will really like him, and you two think so alike.” This was when Jorge (Rudy Cheeks) was working in Newport and sans auto, as ever. After months went on of P. (Chip Young) hearing about the mysterious Rudy, who conversely had also been told this was a mental match made in heaven, but we had never seen each other face-to-face or even spoken on the phone. Then one afternoon when Phillipe/Chip was behind the sticks at Leo’s, a stranger walked in the door, and saying only, “Hi Chip. Is Barbara around?” The response was simply, “Yeah, Rudy, she’s upstairs. You two come back in for a beer when you’re done.” Some things just don’t need an explanation. And thus the first seed of Phillipe and Jorge’s Cool, Cool World was planted.