“I’ve been looking for my soul mate all my life. Madonn’ have I looked.”
Janice is Tony’s big sister, the eldest child of Livia and Johnny Boy Soprano. Unlike her brother, who’s spent most of his life within a short radius of his birthplace, Janice had a serious case of wanderlust. She hated her home life while growing up and was constantly at odds with her mother. (Livia chided her about her weight and, according to Janice, once spiked her iced tea with broken glass.) So as soon as she graduated from high school, Janice hit the road.
A selective list of Janice’s activities over the next twenty-odd years includes the following: she lived in San Francisco and then Los Angeles, where she joined an ashram. While living in the ashram, she worked for a moving company and changed her name to Parvati Wasatch; “Parvati” after a Hindu goddess and “Wasatch” after a Utah mountain range. She traveled around Europe, where she married a French Canadian named Eugene, and had a son they named Harpo. Eventually, Parvati ended up in Seattle, working in an espresso bar. She left that job after convincing a Workers Comp board that she had developed Carpal Tunnel Syndrome from operating the steamed milk machine.
Parvati was living off her disability checks when word reached her of Livia’s stroke. Letting bygones be bygones, she returned to New Jersey to look after her invalid mother – and her inheritance. Going home wasn’t her only retro move: she changed her name back to Janice and became engaged to her old flame, Richie Aprile. The re-christened Janice tried hard to make their relationship work – she even let Richie hold a gun to her head during sex – but it wasn’t meant to be. One night at the dinner table he hit her in the mouth, so she calmly retrieved a gun from a kitchen cabinet and shot him to death. Shortly thereafter Tony dispatched the grieving almost-widow back to Seattle.
But when Livia died, Janice returned home to stay. In short order she got into a dispute with Svetlana – the Russian woman Tony hired to look after Livia following the Richie incident – over Livia’s record collection. Svetlana said that Livia had given the records to her; Janice insisted she return them. The cold war escalated quickly: Janice stole Svetlana’s prosthetic leg, ransoming it for the LP’s. Svetlana retaliated by having a couple of her friends break some of Janice’s ribs. While hospitalized, Janice experienced an epiphany and found Christ. She took up residence in the house where she grew up and, for a time, half-heartedly pursued a career in Christian rock music.
She carried on a brief but torrid affair with Ralph Cifaretto, but ended it when someone better became available: the newly widowed Bobby Baccilieri. Janice decided she was just what the stalwart Bobby needed to get over the death of his wife, and she quickly stepped into the role, becoming a soccer mom to his two kids. But when she got arrested for assaulting the mother of a peewee soccer player, Bobby told her it was time for “anger classes or whatever.” The counseling seemed to be working, until Tony taunted her about her long-estranged son, Harpo. “What’s French-Canadian for ‘I grew up without a mother?”” he asked, provoking his sister to come at him with a fork.