Dubbed “Vinnie, the Barbarian” by locals, “he’s actually great at ‘knock-knock’ jokes” says his guardian.

Security guard Marco Cippolino remembers the first time he met “Vinnie, the Barbarian.” “I was working my regular night shift at National Science Storage. It’s a big place in Jersey, sort of an island of failed experiments. You should see some of the stuff in there.

“Anyhow, I got an alert about possible flooding, so I run towards this one section and Vinnie runs out. He’s in shock. He’s drenched! And he’s only wearing this furry thong!”

Ignoring the source of the leakage, Marco took the shivering Vinnie to the uniform room and suited him up. “I just figured he was some homeless guy but, then, I saw his eyes. He was just taking everything in. I tried talking to him but no dice.”

Marco then made a decision. “The poor guy looked lost. So, I decided to take him home. I named him ‘Vinnie,’ after my grandfather.”


It took Vinnie a little time to get used to the modest Cippolino home. “He spent a lot of time in a ball in the corner, making whiney noises and pissing himself,” Marco adds. “If it wasn’t for Annette, I don’t think Vinnie would’ve made it.”

The Annette in question is Marco’s eight-year-old daughter. “I saw this monkey man crying and pissing himself, so I petted him. He calmed down. Mom and Dad had made some supper for him. He wouldn’t move. So, I hand-scooped some up and fed it to him. He started to laugh. We all did.”

Then, Vinnie noticed Annette’s computer. He was fascinated by it. Now, six months later, Annette has educated Vinnie to an eighth-grade school level, including vocabulary, and has inspired his love of “knock-knock” jokes.

He’s the only school crossing guard who can stop a car by lifting it.

“I guess you can say he’s home-schooled,” Marco laughs. “And he loves his ‘knock-knock’ jokes. I think that’s how he learned to talk. A lot of knock-knock jokes on the web have sounds and stuff. Since I brought him home, I’ve watched him evolve.

“Everybody in the naib thinks he’s my cousin. They call him ‘Vinnie the Barbarian’ because, well, he’s sort of ape-y. But I tell you, the city hired him as a school crossing and the kids love him and his jokes. He’s also the only school crossing guard who can stop a car by lifting it.

“He makes good money as a bouncer, too. Bars all over Queens. Last week, he did his first gig in the City. And the deal is? He doesn’t have to ‘bounce’ anybody. He lifts them up and does a ‘knock-knock’ joke or two. The drunk guys usually wind up leaving laughing.”


At that point, a fellow walks into the room. It’s Vinnie. He’s short and wide, with a pronounced brow and an ape-like nose. He wears a bowling shirt, jeans and crocheted sandals. Marco knocks on the table. Vinnie grins, crouching before me. “Knock, knock,” he says.

“Who’s there?”


“Nana who?”

Vinnie is about to burst out laughing. “Nana your business!” he howls.

After twenty more knock-knock jokes, he grows disinterested and leaves. Marco smiles. “He is so proud of that bowling shirt. He led my bowling team into the state championships, this year. He throws nothing but strikes. Okay, he jumps up and down and roars before he throws a strike. He throws overhand, though, so it’s kind of weird. And he made those sandals himself. My wife, Margie, is teaching him to crochet.”

Marco, wanting to make Vinnie an official part of the family, had him baptized and, then, tried to adopt him. Word about the adoption spread far and wide, leading to a quartet of over-eager ICE agents bursting into the home.

“Vinnie knew they were bad news. Before they could finish a sentence, he had all four of them in one, big chokehold. These guys were making bagpipe noises. Then, this other guy rushes in, a British guy.”

Vinnie’s “owner” appears!

The British guest introduced himself as Sir Real Rallingston, a billionaire who dabbled in anthropology. When a frozen Neanderthal was discovered in Northern California on a private dig, he arranged it to be shipped to his five-story brownstone in the City. The discovery was shipped packed in additional ice with an electronic cooling system. That was seven years ago. The package went missing. It wound up in the storage facility. Rallingston had seen the headlines regarding Vinnie and rushed over.

He convinced the ICE agents to retreat if they were thinking of expelling Vinnie from the United States. “He might have been born here!” Sir Real exclaimed. “A recently completed study said that it was possible that Neanderthals made it to North America via a footbridge from Siberia. They migrated south and entered North California. Hence, this specimen might be a real American! One of the first!”

The ICE agents agreed in a series of tweeting sounds.


And, now, Vincent Cippolino is a legal member of the family, says Marco, thanks to Rallingston’s political clout and mob connections.  “Sir Real starts tutoring him next week. He thinks with Vinnie’s learning curve he could be in High School in two years. We’re talking about a football scholarship to college. And college, says Sir Real, will only last a year!”

From the next room, the laughter of Vinnie, Marge, and Annette can be heard as they watch a nature movie on the computer. Marge and Vinnie crochet.

Marco sinks into his chair, a happy man. “He’s the son I’ve always wanted,” he smiles, wistfully. “The whole world is before him. Think about what kinds of work a Neanderthal Man can tackle in this great country! Sports? Movies? Television?


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