‘Cause we’ve always had an edge. Big Pop Ciacci had an edge, so he left Rome. He joined the bicycle club, fell off his bike, and met his bride. The fall off the bike was the trick. It was all planned. Edge.

And by Ciacci I mean “chah-chee,” a nominal dance for your mouth. Put a little ethnic spin on the “chah” to “chiah” if you want, I don’t really care. Maybe it means “big fat man” in Italian, maybe it means “liar” or “braggart,” maybe it’s a kind of bread. I’ve consulted the experts, and all I’ve been able to discover is that it’s my last name.

I’m not trying to leave the country or meet my future spouse, (if there’s someone out there who could tolerate living with me, but that’s another article). I’m just trying to stay on top of the lifestyle. There’s a precarious balance between being a Ciacci and being downright nuts. You’ve gotta plan these things.

The Morning Dance. It’s my latest thing. And I’m not talking about Darren’s Dance Moves here. This is pure Ciacci-invented shizazz. This is an ongoing struggle, the pathos of my existence. Like Zoolander, I’m digging in the depths of the earth for my roots, and all I might come up with is the black lung. I’ve gotta come up with stuff to do to reassure myself that my parents named me correctly — there are a lot of Ciaccis out there, somewhere in South Philly and the hills of Rome, and I’ve got to keep up the lifestyle.

I don’t know how many Ciaccis you know, but I’ll bet the ones you do have all been a little, I don’t know, “whack”? Think of “Joanie loves Ciacci” on Happy Days — sure, he didn’t spell it my way, but that was his own way of keeping up the lifestyle, putting a personal spin on the genetic whirlpool of our heritage. He got to be a fictional character on television, I got to be a paranoid girl who can’t stop smiling, despite her paranoia. It’s times like the weekday mornings that my signature smile isn’t feeling so sparky. How can I rejuvenate the essence of Ciacci-ness? That’s right, the Morning Dance.

The Morning Dance is like tai chi on crack. It’s not a show, it’s not a performance; it’s a lifestyle. I live my art, so to speak. But first things first: The Morning Dance takes place at whatever time I define as “morning.” Because let’s face it, sleeping does not always occur at the same time, like at night — so why should waking up always have to occur during what is generally defined as morning? Nevertheless, five days a week I’m out of the door by 10:25. Chances are, I’ve been sleeping. I probably want to continue sleeping. I probably have just been dreaming about how much I hate stuff associated with reality, like not sleeping. That whack Ciacci smile is drooping. It’s grumbling. It’s insinuating, get the helloutta my way, I’m tired. If I could speak Italian, my smile would probably be cursing in Italian. If it could move. But it can’t, because it’s that damn tired.

And that’s when I need some Al Green, cause when I’m so tired of being alone, it’s generally before I’ve had enough coffee to ante up the paranoia. Or Cyndi Lauper, especially the Goonies Theme Song. Or maybe George Michael, preferably pre-1998. Anything I’m slightly ashamed to be listening to, before 5 p.m. and completely sober. Of course the sobriety could be remedied, but then I’d be slurring my already suffering pronunciation in Italian class. It’s bad enough as it is, trust me. So I find the necessary music, put on the necessary headphones, look to the left, look to the right — and you got it, do my little dance. My bad self barely has enough energy to hobble down the street, so it’s a quick dance. Chances are I look mildly rheumatic, if not downright skittishly sick. But I’ve got to keep that edge sharp. Which edge? You know, the Ciacci edge. n