Saturday, April 25, 2015

Dear Vito Corleone

Vito Andolini Corleone, 
formerly of Corleone, Sicily, Italy, 
currently residing in New York City, 
C/o Mario Puzo, 
The Godfather

Dear Vito,

I first watched you when I was very little, and for a long time, I figured the word godfather meant a spiritual guardian. Funny, I know. 

Your mafia connections, and businesses founded on gambling, bootlegging and union corruption, were far from my mind.

I don’t know how I got it into my head that you were some kind of a benevolent and rich businessman. Perhaps I got misled by all the kissing you guys do, and deluded myself into thinking that there was some genuine affection there.

Also, I mistook your enigmatic quote,
“I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse.” I used to wonder why people reacted so strongly to that statement. Surely the fact was that the offer was so good that one didn’t want to refuse. I would wonder why no one made me an offer like that. It was much later that I realized that its sting lay in the hard fact that it was quite literally true. Listeners just could not refuse.

You generally prided yourself on being reasonable, but you know how it is, one man’s reasonableness can be another man’s…you get the drift. So you didn’t think twice about using violence to get what you wanted. Remember when you had one of your opponent’s prize horses killed and had the horse’s severed head placed on the guy’s bed? Gruesome touch! You said it best: “Revenge is a dish that tastes best when served cold.” 

You also think very highly of your own sense of generosity and your strict moral code of loyalty to your friends, and above all, the family. “A man who is not a father to his children can never be a real man.” Another time you asked someone, “Do you spend time with your family? Good. Because a man that doesn't spend time with his family can never be a real man.” Truly, your love for your family is admirable. On the flip side, what that means for those who can neither call themselves your friends or family, I shudder to think.

You live in a strange world, one where the moral code is suitably adjusted to make room for personal desires, and long held resentments. As you said, “It was not perhaps the warmest friendship in the world, they would not send each other Christmas gift greetings, but they would not murder each other.” 

And yet in your own way, you abide by that same strange moral code. And you’re not too wrong there either. “A lawyer can steal more money with a briefcase than a thousand men with guns.” 

There are some hard lessons you taught those who cared enough to listen to you. “Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.” In your world, neither is to be trusted. “Even if you've grown up with someone and you go way back, always watch your back.”

What kind of a life you led! No wonder it made you so toughnosed. 

Just remind me never to cross your path.


  1. Public Television did a series on the Italian Immigrants. Mario Puzo wrote the Godfather books after his unsuccessful attempts to write literary books - which didn't sell. Us Italians were not happy about the portrayal - even if true.

  2. such a contrast in the man loving and ruthless. Yes, I wouldn't want to cross his path either.

  3. Great everlasting dialogues!! And very memorable ones too!! I liked the book much better than the movie...

    And one made me an offer i couldnt refuse..too..:(



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