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Bruno and Bambi
                     by Phillip Giambri

Bruno and Bambi are high school sweethearts. They grow up in Jersey City during the late ‘70s, in a tough blue collar, Italian neighborhood. They both have that “Jersey Shore” kinda’ swagger, without the arrogance and stupidity.

The first time he looks into those big brown doe eyes Bruno knows, he’s gonna’ marry this girl. Her name is Philomena but to him, she’ll always be Bambi. She wears his school ring on a gold chain around her neck and he carries her picture in his wallet.

Bambi is petite, but far from delicate. Anybody gives her shit, she comes out swinging. She’s also pretty, feminine, and sexy as hell.

Bruno is a thick hulk of a tough guy, with a soft heart and a hard fist. You mess with him, you get laid out; one punch, it’s over.

Bambi gets pregnant just outta’ high school and they’re both more than willing to commit to marriage. Their parents aren’t happy but offer a full blown Italian wedding and reception with lots of relatives and lots of food and music. Everyone is happy for them and wishes them well.

They settle in a small apartment in Hoboken, and Bruno’s uncle gets him a job as an apprentice in the Electrical Workers Union. They eagerly await the birth of their son Guido, a laughing eight-pound bundle of joy.

They save every penny they can, and after three years, put a down payment on a new house in Ridgefield. Bruno, ever the flashy Italian, buys a mint, used, cherry red, ’76 Caddy Eldorado convertible. They both love to drive around their old neighborhood in the Caddy with the kid, the roof down, and the radio blastin’ out oldies. They want everybody to see how fuckin’ cool they are. Life is good.

Bruno works his way up to a Chief Shop Steward position and an office job at Union headquarters. When he visits work sites, he always seems to be accompanied by some young, sexy, and fawning “assistant”. Bambi isn’t stupid and assumes that Bruno, like a lot of Italian husbands, will always have a “goomah” on the side. She seems willing to accept that in stoic Italian wife tradition, as long as he provides for the family and is a loving husband and father. He is, and his dalliances don’t appear to bother her.

Their middle-class life settles into a comfortable routine for years, until a routine mammogram reveals a lump in Bambi’s left breast. It’s malignant. Three harrowing years of treatments and medical bills leave them both run down, tired, and broke, but she’s still alive. A tough Jersey kid, she survives, and together, they rebuild her strength and their marriage. She continues on as “the good wife.”

Guido’s in school and Bambi has time on her hands. She gets a job as a receptionist at a local Real Estate office. A year later, she decides to get a license and become an agent. Bruno’s still working his Shop Steward job and continues visiting work sites with his sexy young “assistants.” If Bambi knows, she says nothing.

After three years as a real estate agent, she tragically has a reoccurrence of her breast cancer, just short of five years after her first. The news is emotionally devastating for both of them.

This time it’s worse; she undergoes a double mastectomy. Along with radiation and chemo, she’s offered some options; Her team of doctor’s want to take her noticeably thick “muffin top,” use it to rebuild her breasts, while preserving her nipples, and eventually adding breast implants. She agrees. This results in an amazing transformation for Bambi. Now almost fifty, her body takes on the appearance of a much younger and sexier woman.

She eventually returns to work but also, joins a fitness program at a local gym. She spends three to four nights a week there, and is lookin’ strong and sexy. Bruno receives a text on his phone saying Bambi’s having an affair with some “muscle head” at the gym. He’s shocked but really doesn’t believe it. He shows it to Bambi and she says, it must be one of the younger unattractive girls at the gym who’s jealous of her. She would never cheat on Bruno. A month later, Bruno gets another text about Bambi having an affair, and it includes the phone number of the alleged “muscle head’s” wife. Tells him that she’s kicked him out of the house for screwing around with Bambi, and that he should call her if he doesn’t believe it. He again shows it to Bambi and she curtly replies that he’s accusing her of having an affair and she doesn’t like it one bit. “Come to the gym with me. We’ll work out together. You’ll see.”

He does for two months but can’t help noticing frequent looks and glances from one of the young trainers. He decides to check Bambi’s cell phone bills and finds hundreds of calls to that trainer’s extension at the gym. He’s crushed.

He confronts her with the evidence and this time she doesn’t deny it. She just says, “Payback’s a mother-fucker, ain’t it.” and smiles.

There are loud threats and arguments followed by a restraining order against Bruno. He isn’t allowed near his own home anymore, so he’s sleepin’ in the Caddy ‘til he finds a place to live. Bambi’s havin’ lots of fun with her young lover.

I guess that’s kind of a happy Cancer survivor story. Ya’ think?