Greetings and Salutations, my little kits!
I hope you all listened to this month’s History Hutch before you read this. It’s relevant. I promise!
Today, kits, we’re discussing Mafia etiquette.
You know how it is: you’re walking down the street with your friends, hanging out, trying to decide what you want to do. While discussing the options, one of you says “Hey! I have a cousin named Joey Dimes that has a great Italian restaurant down the street!” You love Italian food. It’s hot as balls out since it’s the middle of the Summer and you know there will be an air conditioner there. Then you realize the food will probably be free, so, you agree enthusiastically.
What’s the worst that can happen?
Maybe we don’t really need anyone to answer that, on second thought.
Regardless, your friend now has you in a precarious position. You don’t want to end up sleeping with the fishes, wearing cement shoes, or having Joey Dimes leave a horse head in your bed. Whatever will you do?
I know! Read the rest of this post before you eat at Joey Dimes’ place, it could save your life!
Believe it or not, there is an etiquette to almost any situation in which you find yourself. This particular area is not the expertise of Emily Post, so I will be ditching my usual go-to etiquette book in favor of research.
First things first: you need to know where the person to whom you are speaking sits on the hierarchy. It may seem outdated, and perhaps it’s true that Americans recognize little in the way of hierarchy, but almost every situation has one. The Mafia is nothing, if not structured and organized. Huh. The term ‘organized crime’ makes way more sense now, doesn’t it? I think you’ll find many of the phrases you’ve heard in the various mobster movies will make a lot more sense, now.
We are going to focus on the American Mafia, mostly because I don’t want to piss off anyone.
Here is a diagram of the known structure of the American Mafia:
Now for a brief explanation of these terms, for this is also important. All inducted members of the Mafia are referred to as ‘made men’ making them untouchable without the retaliation of the Mafia. Made men include all members of the Mafia, except associates.
The Boss is the leader of the family, often ruling much like a dictator. Sometimes they are called the ‘Don’ or ‘Godfather’.
The Consigliere is an advisor to the family, often referred to as the ‘right hand man’ of the Don. Typically the Consigliere is an older member that’s highly respected in the family, acting as an emissary and as the third highest ranking member of the family.
The Underboss is chosen by the Boss and is considered the second in command of the family. This is the heir to the throne.
The Caporegime, or Capo, are the captains of the family. The Capo is in charge of a group that consists of 10-20 soldiers and more associates. They answer to the Underboss or the Boss, and are appointed by the Boss. They collect money and give a certain percentage to the family. They are in charge of any assignment given to them, including murder, and they run regular schemes for earning money for the family. Some of these schemes include racketeering, bootlegging stuff (famously booze during prohibition), and running other scams.
Soldiers are traditionally supposed to be 100% Italian, but these days they often accept people who are at least 50% Italian. The soldiers are the workers of the family. They are the ones committing assault and killing people, as well as actually running the rackets and collecting the money. In exchange, they get paid well and they get access to the family’s connections. They can also rise in the organization.
Associates are the lowest wrung of the ladder, and are not made men. These are the grunts of the organization and could be doing almost anything. They could do the same stuff as a soldier, or even just running errands for people. You better be funny if you’re an errand boy, you never know when a Boss will want to hear a good joke!
The most important thing to remember is to always be respectful. It’s a good rule of thumb in many situations, but especially when dealing with the Mob. They respect respect, if you will. The Mafia has a set of rules by which they live, and those are also good to know, even if you aren’t a made man.
- Never talk to the authorities.
- Only those of Italian blood can be members.
- Never discuss Family business with outsiders.
- No revenge can be taken against a Family member who kills another Family member without the express permission of the Boss.
- No fighting among members. Period.
- Everyone pays tribute to the Boss every month by paying him and giving him a cut of any side businesses.
- No member is allowed to sleep with the wife of any other Family member.
- No mustaches.
- No homosexuality.
Some other rules seem much more related to etiquette than just not shitting where you eat, like the previous list. A mafia boss arrested in 2007 had these commandments:
- Don’t look at other men’s wives.
- Don’t go to pubs and nightclubs.
- Always be punctual and keep appointments.
- Never let anyone see you with a cop.
- Be loyal to the Family.
- Have moral values.
- Don’t steal money from your Family other families.
- No one that’s related to a cop can join the family.
- Always follow the orders of your Capo.
- Ask for permission to start a new racket.
- The Family comes before God and family.
- Don’t do drugs.
I mean, really, this is mostly just good advice, but keep it in mind if you find yourself face to face with a Mafia member. As long as you don’t steal from them, check out their wives, hang out with cops, or get nosy, you should be safe from a bath in a gross river or other body of water from which you may never return.
And whatever you do, never say that your mother cooks better than what they serve you. They’re Italians and it’s likely to be a recipe from their mother. Remember: Respect.
One more thing: don’t rat me out to Joey Dimes. No one likes a dirty rat. Or a snitch. Traditionally, being either is a bad idea with the Mafia.
Thus endeth my advice for you all this month.
As always, you can find me on Twitter or leave a message here, if you so desire!