Bets: Not really a bad guy? You've got be kidding me!
Marita: Shh! Bets --
Bets: Aw, c'mon Ri-Ri! Good guys don't just walk out when the test stick turns positive.
Marita: Yeah, but...(she nods toward first Nicoletta, then Angel)
Nicoletta: Oh, I'm right there with you. But that was all Mama.
Bets: No offense, but if he's old enough to do the deed....
Marita: Have you met Jim's mother? She's--
Nicoletta: "Let me finish that for you. A force to be reckoned with. Don't get me wrong, she's my mother and I love her, but she's not a warm-and-fuzzy, milk-and-cookies kind of parent. She makes the law and if you live in her house, you abide by it. She had big plans for Jimmy."
Marita: (chuckles) It's funny to hear you refer to him as "Jimmy." Angel, do you ever call him that?
Angel: (shakes her head) I've only ever known him as Jim. But you're right about the plans, Nicoletta. Jim told me all about it when we dating.
Nicoletta: My brother is the only boy in an Italian household. He was raised to be a prince.
Angel: Didn't that bother you and Alessi?
Nicoletta: Sometimes. But we also had less pressure than he did. We had to help out at the restaurant -- we all did -- but at home, the rules were very traditionally male and female. There was never a thought of Alessi or me going to college, unless there was money left over after Jimmy made his choice.
Bets: That's so unfair!
Nicoletta: (shrugs) I always wanted a husband and babies. School was never my thing. I was too outspoken for our private Christian school --
Marita: I can identify with that!
Nicoletta: Not that it stopped me. But I wanted to be somewhere where I could be myself and be in charge. Like Mama, only softer.
Bets: What would your brother have done if your mother --
Marita: Stop! I don't want to know.
Nicoletta: I couldn't tell you if I wanted to -- I really don't know. I know Jimmy was scared but I only ever heard fragments of discussion -- mostly Mama yelling. I don't know whether he was scared because you were pregnant or just scared of Mama. I don't think Mama gave him a chance to have any feelings about it.
Angel: But you're so different! I mean, I've seen you with your kids. You are the milk-and-cookies mom.
Nicoletta: But I'm also the disciplinarian -- just like how I grew up. I have Mama's sass and Dad's ability to keep the peace. It's a good combination most days, honed by working as a waitress. I know just how far I can go before I cross a line -- most of the time.
Bets: You're on the right porch swing!
Angel: So, tell me. I'm surrounded by moms. What advice do you have for me?
Nicoletta: Spare the rod -- and make sure Jimmy does, too. Mama was quick to smack or swat. Didn't shut me up, but it definitely kept Alessi in her shell. She's still afraid to speak up about anything.
Angel: I can't even imagine --
Marita: Me either. But Charli has always been so easy. My mother had the icy glare.
Bets: Oh, don't lie. You have the evil eye down.
Marita: Yep. But I've never raised a hand to Charli. My voice plenty of times....
Nicoletta: Angel, you'll find your way, and you'll be just fine. You are so full of love. Just make sure you draw the line and don't let that little girl wrap you around her finger.
Angel: Marita, you and Charli seem to be more like friends than mother and daughter.
Marita: It's a fine line. A lot of that is because I was not much more than a kid when I had her. But my father gave me the same advice Nicoletta just gave you -- make sure she knows where the line is.
Bets: If that advice had come from Rosemarie --
Marita: Can you imagine?
Bets: Sounds like you and Nicoletta had the same goal -- not to be your mothers.
Angel: Something else we have in common. But that's a story for another time.