Monday, December 31, 2007
Monday, December 10, 2007
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Friday, November 23, 2007
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Well, I guess I have to begrudgingly admit that The Husband was right...again: I probably shouldn't have broadcast my Jewishness to Don Pasquale. Here's why...
A few days after his offer of sympathy for the Jewish experience of WWII, Don Pasquale and I got to talking again. The conversation went a little something like this (give me a beat!):
DP: Terrible, what happened to the Jews. But what else could he have done?
DP: I mean, killing 8 million (sic) was too much, but he had to do something to stop the Jewish takeover of the world.
Me: Um, Don Paquale, now you're being offensive.
DP: Ma quando mai! Don't get me wrong. I have great respect for your people, but you have to admit that they have economic control over the world and that before WWII they were ruining Germany and Hitler had to do something.
Me: Sorry, Don Pasquale, I don't see it that way. Gotta go. Say, "ciao ciao, bimba"
The next day my parents arrived in Naples. One morning during their visit they stepped out with La Bimba and I went to take a dance class. On my return, Ciro the garage attendent stopped me.
Ciro: Don Pasquale told me you were Jewish...
Me: (Hoo boy).
Ciro: ...and I'm afraid I offended your father.
Me: What? Why? (Did you scream Raus Juden in his face?)
Ciro: I saw that he was carrying a Leica and I was a photographer, you know, took pictures for a sports newspaper, and I have a Leica too...from the German invasion. It has a swastika on it. I told your father all about it. I love the camera, not the swastika.
Me: Oh, I'm sure he under...
Ciro: Then I told him about my watch. I have a watch that belonged to an Italian Jew. In 1938 he told a friend that he had to escape from Italy, to hold the watch for him, that he would be back. The friend waited 60 years. When he died, his son sold the watch. Now it's mine.
Me: Senti, Ciro, my father doesn't speak Italian. I'm sure he didn't understand a word you said.
Ciro: But he kept saying, "mia figlia, mia figlia," and I'm sure I offended him!
Me: He probably just wanted you to tell me what you had to say so that I could translate. Don't worry, I'll explain everything.
Ciro: Thank you. And if he wants to come over to see my Leica, I live on the first floor.
Of course, my father didn't understand a thing. When I told him what it had been all about, he said, "I didn't know what he was talking about and Nazis were the last thing I could have imagined."
Now an update on the offended signora from the basso on the steps, whose grandson's picture I refused to look at. I saw her husband. I said hello. He sneered at me and turned away. And he doesn't even know I'm Jewish!
And I found out where J-Dub comes from: it is the letter J and an abbreviation of the letter W from the word Jew. Isn't that bizarre? So the Sephardic term for an Ashkenazi Jew just means Jew. Now I'm confused. I guess all that hurt and feelings of being a pariah were for nothing. I learned about it here.
Sunday, October 7, 2007
Saturday, October 6, 2007
When Don Pasquale sees La Bimba, he says, "Dai un bacio a nonno, Lucia!" She doesn't comply, but she lets him kiss her pudgy cheek. Recently, Don Pasquale found out I was Jewish. It wasn't a rumor that spent some time swirling around the neighborhood until it reached his fuzzy ear, but rather information that leaks out as it always does:
Don Pasqule or any other napoletano: Are you Italian American?
DP: So you're American American.
DP: quizzical look
Me: My relatives are from Russia, Moldova, Poland, Austria.
DP: knowing look
Me: Yeah, we're Jews.
This exchange sent Don Pasquale into a reverie -- spoken out loud, of course -- about WWII and what the Fascists and the Germans did to the Jews. He must have pointed at me saying, "Your race has suffered so!" about ten times before I extricated myself from the maudlin chat.
The next day, La Bimba and I were beckoned by Don Pasquale from his perch in the garage. Next to him, on a motorcycle, sat a younger man, un napoletano DOC with greasy, curly hair and a tight black t-shirt, smoking a cigarette. Don Pasquale introduced the man as Ciro and proceeded to say, "Her race has suffered so!" La Bimba and I beat a hasty retreat, backing out of the garage, nodding and smiling and saying, "Sorry, we're in such a hurry!"
I told The Husband about the conversations with Don Pasquale and he said, "You shouldn't spread that around."
Me: That I'm Jewish?
Hubby: Yeah. You never know what the landlady will do.
So now we're probably going to get evicted because I let out my dirty little secret. No, dai, sto scherzando.
The only time I ever felt that I was experiencing anti-Semitism was from other Jews. I am an Ashkenazi (a Jew from Eastern Europe, insomma), but grew up around a lot of Sephardic Jews (from the Middle East via the Iberian peninsula). These kids grow up very wealthy and very cloistered in Brooklyn, a subculture within a subculture. Their traditions are not those of the Hasidim, no one is wearing a wig or a yarmulke, no black overcoats or furry hats, but they do go to synagogue regularly and consider themselves orthodox. They marry young, have tons of kids, and most of the girls don't study beyond high school. They live in enormous houses off Ocean Parkway and in Deal, New Jersey, and spend tens of thousands of dollars on wedding dresses. I was coming from a very different Jewdom, one obsessed with study and free-thinking and marrying late and being an only child and being frugal. These kids called me J-Dub. It sounds like a rapper's name and I don't know what it means or where it comes from, but it hurt to be called names and to feel outside and all that. They weren't exactly cruel but they were discriminating. Gives a whole new edge to that prejudice commercial, huh Curry Muncher?
Once in Madison, Wisconsin, a guy from a small town said to me, "You're Jewish? You don't act Jewish." I never figured out what he meant by that. I was 17 and just wanted to party.
Monday, September 24, 2007
I am reading Barzini and Henry Miller's The Air-Conditioned Nightmare together. They are totally different in terms of style, but both men were trying to make sense of their homelands and both are very critical. I am trying to balance out and clarify my opinions and experiences in my homeland and in my adoptive country. So far I've concluded that both places are wonderful and totally fucked up.
Mudra, the dance-fitness-turkish bath center where I was teaching yoga last spring, has reopened. I know this because there a posters everywhere, slapped over other posters that have information not yet expired. The posters are black-and-white and feature a black man, head only, with a white Barbie ballerina doll clenched between his teeth. The doll's expression is one of pleasure, I must say. Do we think the Mudra folks are paying homage to Arthur Mitchell in Balanchine's Agon? I would pass along their website address, but the site is under construction.
I saw a pharmacist smoking in the doorway of a pharmacy today. Remember when American doctors used to prescribe cigarettes for weight loss?
La Bimba and I sat on a bench next to a group of old men today. We were eating ice cream. One of the men, the only one standing, said, "Mamma mia! Che bella! Sembra un'inglese!" I told him she was actually half American. Then he told me he had been to Boston. He has an aunt that has been living there for 60 years. Then he said, "Can I ask you something? Now you'd know better than me, but why is it that American is such a vulgar language? I mean, the way they talk in those films!"
Me: Not all Americans talk like they do in films.
Him: But so vulgar! Even on the streets of Boston, that's all I heard.
Me: And they don't talk like that here?
Him: Of course, of course, but it's just a way of speaking (un modo di dire), not a language.
The old man continued on and on about his aunt in Boston, her father the tailor, La Bimba's remarkable blue eyes (the guy sitting next to me, a vero napoletano, had occhi blu blu blu). Then he asked, "Now you'd know better than me, but why do Americans give their children Coca Cola for a fever? Not with the bubbles. Flat."
Me: They do not! Maybe for a stomach ache...
Him: For a fever! Instead of aspirin! Coca Cola in a baby bottle!
Other old guy: That's crazy! How can they do that?
Yet another old guy: That's just wrong!
I saw the saddest woman, girl really, on the funicolare today. She was pushing a newborn baby girl in a carriage. The baby was not strapped in. She looked totally miserable, no sign of joy on her face. The woman, maybe 19 years old, wore a leopard-pring shirt and pants ensemble, big cutouts in the back revealing a dark fuzzy lumbar section and some stretchmarks. She wore high heeled slip on shoes. She probably had post-partum depression. I know the feeling. I wanted to reach out to her, but knew better. Even with our evident solidarity as moms, and our proximity on the funicolare platform steps, we stood worlds apart.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Thursday, September 13, 2007
The young woman who works at the housewares store told me that the reason why Italians think English from England and English from the USA are two different languages is because that's what the English teachers in school tell them.
It is cool and breezy and I am sipping a Coca Cola, che vergogna!, while I type this post. My online fiction writing class started on Tuesday, September 11th and I am already procrastinating.
Speaking of September 11th, I haven't blogged about it at all. I woke up in Berkeley that morning six years ago. My mother and her younger sister were on their way to visit me and their older sister. They were on a Jet Blue flight that left JFK at around 7:30am Eastern time. I got up at around 8:30am west coast time, three hours after the first plane hit. I don't know why I turned on the TV, it was not something I normally did at that hour, perhaps someone called to tell me to turn it on, I don't remember. I saw the two towers burning. Then I saw a man in a business suit falling through the sky. He was bicycling the air, his tie and jacket flapping in the free fall. That image stays with me still. The networks stopped airing it shortly after I saw it. Too traumatic, they later said.
When I finally wrapped my mind around the reality -- this isn't a film trailer -- I lost it. I tried to call my father in Brooklyn, but the lines were in tilt. I called the dance studio where I was supposed to teach that morning and told them I couldn't come in. Someone subbed for me and the dancing people did that morning was healing. I had to stay by the phone (I never went cellular in my American life). My mother called from Kansas City, where her flight was grounded. She and her sister were planning to continue their journey west until they found out that flights would be grounded indefinitely. After a couple of nights in an airport motel, they rented a car and drove back to NY. They had seen all the footage, the first plane, the second plane, the melting towers, on board. Jet Blue has direct TV.
"I *heart* NY" posters started cropping up in Berkeley. My first thought when I saw the news that morning was, "This is only the beginning of serious bloodshed." There were those of us who hoped a lesson of peace would come of the tragedy. There were those who lost people and stayed committed to cultivating peace. Unfortunately, the road taken since that awful day has led to bombs bursting in air.
What I remember the most from that day and those that followed is the silence. With no airplanes in the air the world around me got very quiet. I have a friend who was in the back country that week. He couldn't understand why that trip was so much quieter than previous ones. He didn't find out about what happened until her emerged a few days later.
With Bush's "you're either with us or against us" stand, it is never easy writing honestly about 9/11, not because I give a rats ass what that man thinks, but because it has become too easy to offend people who were directly affected by the events of that day. Americans have had little experience with a massacre of that nature on their own soil and its cinematic quality, the spectacle of it, made it such that it seemed bigger and worse than anything in history. Of course it wasn't.
I don't do anything special when September 11th comes around. I just try to remember all the suffering in the world and make a wish for it to cease.
Sunday, September 9, 2007
I woke up, blew my nose, and got a nosebleed. The only downside to less humidity.
Later, La Bimba, The Husband and I went for a walk in the Villa Comunale. Packed with kids and dogs, it was hard to navigate, so we walked along the sea instead, pausing to let La Bimba have her weekly pony ride.
Then we went to The Husband's ex-girlfriend Barbara's house for lunch. On the way, The Husband found some keys sitting in a potted plant on the street. He took them because it brings good luck, finding keys. We found our friend Fanta at Barbara's (that's a direct translation from the Italian, "Abbiamo trovato Fanta da Barbara"). Fanta is from Ethiopia. La Bimba always cries when she first sees him, and The Husband jokes about Fanta being the scary Uomo Nero.
On our way home, we needed a one-euro coin to get a ticket from the machines for the funicolare. The newsstands were closed and we only had a two-euro coin, which the machines do not accept. The Husband went into the bar on the corner and asked for change, but the guy said he didn't have any. Then I went in and he told me the same thing, adding that it was off-hour for change, whatever the cazzo that means. I stormed out and then stormed back in and asked to buy a coffee. He looked at me with scorn and said, "This is absurd." And I said, "No, what's absurd is a bar not having change in its register. And what's also absurd is a bar refusing to sell someone an espresso." He took my 2 euro coin and begrudgingly gave me the euro coin change. The espresso was nasty.
I was livid. I had arrived at my limit. I scowled for about an hour afterwards. Who the fuck do these people think they are? The lying, the miserliness, the rudeness. I lost all cultural sensitivity in that one moment. The man called me absurd!
I don't like when smoke comes out of my ears, when venom threatens to spew forth from my unforked tongue, when I want to cry from frustration. It reminds me of the road rage I used to experience in the Bay Area. I would pound the steering wheel and curse the gods and all the people in their SUVs and I would cry real tears. Not worth it.
I have been thinking a lot about how to live a sane life. With all the fast pace, the technology, the crowds, the fumes, the noise...it's too much. I know a life in the country or in a small town would provide its challenges, but I don't think I can do this big city thing anymore. Is there somewhere I can turn in my Urban Girl card? I want to denounce my cosmopolitan, metropolitan citizenship and become a bumpkin.
It wouldn't be too hard. There's always the internet.
Saturday, September 8, 2007
La Bimba and I sitting on the funicolare. La Bimba is wearing orange pants, a navy blue sweatshirt, and her new navy blue sneakers. An elderly woman says, "You should put her in a dress!"
I am chasing La Bimba around the field in the Villa Floridiana. It is packed with kids of all ages, including teenagers getting it on. Several groups are kicking balls around. One group of young boys have a regulation soccer ball, not one of the lightweight beach balls that everyone else has. I navigate La Bimba through the play, careful to prevent her from being knocked unconscious by her first inadvertent header. We approach a couple of women sitting on picnic blankets at the same time that a pair of men approach. The men, one elderly, one maybe in his early 40s, say to the women, "Are those your boys? They are not supposed to be playing soccer here, especially with a ball like that. Double rubber. It can hurt a little kid like this one (pointing at La Bimba)." I notice that he men are wearing Vigili dei Parchi armbands, Park Police. Neapolitan Rangers. They proceed to explain to me that it is forbidden to play soccer or ride bikes in the park. I say, "But there is so little green space in Naples. Maybe there can be a set time when kids can play soccer and another time for toddlers to run free." They look at me like I am deranged and a threat to the well-being of my baby. They say in unison, "No signora, it's too dangerous. The park has to be safe for little ones like her (pointing at La Bimba)." They walk away and I sayto the women, "Just want you to know that I had know idea that there were such rules and I think it's a little crazy." They agree saying, "How can they expect young boys not to play soccer?" Then I say, "And it's funny how the Park Police are all up in our faces when the regular police and the carabinieri let all sorts of criminal activity go on uninterrupted." To this they look at me blankly and go back to talking among themselves.
Thursday, September 6, 2007
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
Right before I sat down to blog and watch the news, I was standing on our terrace gazing at the view: Capri, the Gulf of Naples, Mergellina, building on top of building, headlights, brake lights, a cloud bank, an incoming airplane. It is mercifully cool out, chilly enough for long sleeves, and as I leaned on the railing, breathing in the sea air, I felt a tinge of regret that we will be leaving this place.
Our 85-year-old landlady and The Husband do not get along. According to Salvatore, our Jehovah's Witness, ballroom dancing door man, no one gets along with la signora Ciliberti. She is a widow with one son, Bruno, for whom she has only unveiled disdain. She looks like she's just bit into a rotten clam when she mentions his name. I have only met Bruno once. I let him into the apartment to go through some things in the storage space that sits on the far end of the terrace, the one with the view of Castel Sant'Elmo. As he was rummaging he said, "She has got to go through this stuff." I offered, "She is waiting for you..." and before I finished he said, "To die?"
Now this only makes sense in Italian. I said, "Lei sta aspettando..." and Bruno understood that "Lei" to mean "You," Lei with a capital L being the formal form of you in Italian. So Bruno heard, "You are waiting for..." and he evidently thought I was going to say, "You are waiting for her to die before you will throw her stuff out."
I was using the "lei," lower case L, as in "she" and wanted to say, "She is waiting for you to go through the stuff." I should have said, "La signora sta aspettando che lo fa Lei." That would have been clear, though potentially in need of the subjunctive, but why mince grammar.
When The Husband went to pay the rent, the landlady said she wanted us out by next September. The Husband and I both hope to be living outside of Naples, far outside, before then, so the deadline is not a problem. But I have to admit to having felt a pang of pre-emptive nostalgia for this place. I have been lamenting Naples ever since I got here and never more than in the last few weeks when it has been over 100 degrees and devoid of people, hot and lonely. I get anxious in the extreme heat and act like a 2-year-old. I have been so negative about Naples.
Until today. The cool air and the return of the students and working people, a violin player in front of Santa Chiara, sitting with his amplifier across the street from where two very short stout women, one in a baker's uniform -- white dress, white hat, red and white apron -- stood chatting, a couple of encounters with people I know in the center, the "how was your vacation?" variety conversation, with the woman who works at the Gay Odin chocolate and ice cream shop on Spaccanapoli, with one of the hot computer geek twins, either Luigi or Salvatore, I am never sure which, with Gianni the Salumiere and his Sri Lankan helper, Joseph...all of this made me fall in love with Naples again, to walk with a spring in my step. And I only called one guy in a car a dick and two kids on a motorino assholes. That's nothing!
My dear dear friend N. was here for a few days and it was so lovely I could just collapse thinking about how much I wish we lived near each other. She had just come from Israel and when I asked her how she felt walking around Naples, negotiating the traffic and bumpy streets with La Bimba and me, she said it was way less chaotic than Tel Aviv. So now we have to go to Israel and then come back and see Naples with mellow goggles on.
I don't think there is another place in the Western world that will inspire me to think and write and marvel like Naples does. But that is not enough of a reason to stick around. We are not leaving tomorrow, but someday soon and I will mourn.
Sunday, September 2, 2007
Saturday, September 1, 2007
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Yesterday La Bimba and I were hanging out in Piazza Plebiscito (a massive piazza with no shade, in case you've never been...avoid at high noon), when I noticed a group of people marking movement in the center of the square. One was barefoot. I asked someone what was going on and she said that they were filming a dance for a video art exhibit to take place at MADRE, Naples's fabulous contemporary art museum. She pointed to the filmmaker, a chubby gal in black standing behind a videocamera at the far end of the square. When I approached the filmmaker, she was ordering a lackey around, telling him to prevent passersby from walking into the frame. He was running back and forth like a caged animal, begging ice cream eaters and balloon salesmen to walk around the shot. Not an easy job.
The group of dancers, mostly unprofessional, some kids, began to mark the piece, to do a run-through. After some random milling about, they formed lines and began to follow a leader through a series of movements, basic, simple movements from modern choreography. I assumed the leader was the choreographer and wanted to know his name, so I asked the filmmaker.
Me: Is that the choreographer in front?
Her: Excuse me?
Me: Is there a choreographer for this dance?
Her: It's a film.
Me: Yes, but did someone choreograph the movement?
Me: What's his name?
Her: Guido something.
Woe is me! Woe is dance! A video art project based entirely on movement and the filmmaker doesn't even know the choreographer's name. I wanted to say, "Nice way to treat other artists" but said instead, "Guido something. I see."
Am I being wise or cowardly with all these unspoken sentiments?
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Do you think that image has been air brushed?
There are so many things I fear for La Bimba if we remain in Napoli: smoking, tanning, helmetless motorino riding, coffee addiction, no fiber in her diet, butt crack exposure fashion, cutting in front of old people in line... I suppose I just have to keep working on leaving town. But where oh where should we go?
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Monday, August 20, 2007
Thursday, August 16, 2007
I have been enjoying the service here in Switz. Lots of friendly, smiling, helpful people behind the counters. None of that sullen Italian treatment, the deigning to look up from the paper, the look of total confusion when you ask for something in not perfectly accented, but decent enough Italian. "Cosa? Non ho capito." It's not always like that, but it is often enough to warrant a little moan.
Yesterday was Ferragosto, the Feast of the Assumption, no, not a giant collective assumption that, say, everyone makes their train that day, but rather, the Virgin Mary's assumption, body and soul, into heaven. I like to picture her in her casual blue dress with white wimple, head cocked slightly to the right, hands extended low at her sides, palms forward, sailing up and out into the Great Blue Yonder.
My friends are nominally, their word, raising their kids in the Shin Buddhist tradition, and I thought it was important for them to know why all the stores were closed yesterday, so that they wouldn't get teased mercilessly for not knowing, like, duh!, every Catholic knows about Mary and her blue outfit and how she was Jesus's mom, though Joseph could never be sure, etc. So, I sat down in front of the computer with nearly 5-year-old Divine Miss M. and her heading toward 3 years old little brother L. and took the information superhighway to www.catholic.org. There we learned all about the Assumption as well as about various saints, their feast days, what they are patrons over, how gruesomely they died.
What the Divine Miss M. got out of it was that Mary, body and spirit, was in the sky yesterday. When her father left for work that evening she shouted to him, "Don't forget, Pa! Mary's in the sky!!!" Her mom is a bit worried and somewhat confused that her Jewish friend from Brooklyn is teaching her children about Catholicism. I also taught the children that the current Pope's favorite color is hot pink and that Paul means small.
All in all I think it was a very edifying day. Hallelujah!
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
My friends, their kids, La Bimba and I have been playing, strolling, cooking, eating, and when the kids go to sleep, my friend and I talk each others' ears off. It's great. We've even done some yoga together.
On a lovely walk through the village, we came across a handmade sign posted above a doorway. The sign went something like this (my translation from the Italian): "That ba___rd who stole my boring machine (1900 Swiss francs) knows I know who he is, so he had better come clean because if I find him myself I am going to put that boring machine up his a__." Yes, stronzo and culo did not have all their letters, though they were written in red while the rest of the sign was in black. My friend said, "I have never seen anything like that here."
Then, up the ways a bit, maybe two or three doors down, past the water fountain with the freshest tasting water pouring from it, we found another door with a sign on it. This was a simple white sheet of paper with a typewritten message (again, from the Italian): "There is a man walking around town pretending to be looking for an apartment to rent. He tests doors and enters through open ones and then, if caught, makes vague excuses and then hightails it. His distinguishing features are: a rather strong southern Italian accent, around 5'10", dark hair, green eyes. If you see him, contact the authorities."
They could have been describing The Husband. But, of course, he is taller than that and we are here without him. I loved that first, and it was first, description about the accent. For those of you who understand Italian, it read: "Ha un accento piuttosto italiano meridionale." I just love that piuttosto!
I turned to my friend and said, "Not the peaceful, idyllic village it's cracked up to be, huh?"
But actually, it is. It is fabulous. And now I want to live here, let La Bimba grow up waving to the two-car trains that go by, eating raspberries she picks off the vine, sniffing the odor of ripening grapes on her way to school. The Husband could open a trattoria napoletana and get a horse and a bunch of doggies. I can be near great friends and a circus school and curse less. Who knows. Vediamo.
Sunday, August 12, 2007
Thursday, August 9, 2007
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
Thursday, August 2, 2007
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
I have GOT to get some things off my chest. First of all, it's hot. I know, it could be hotter, it has been hotter, and there is a nice breeze blowing through our apartment giving us all stiff necks, but it is nevertheless hot. And sticky.
Second of all, I miss my friends. The ones on the East coast, the ones on the West coast, the ones in the middle, the ones in other European countries, the ones who miss me, the ones who don't, the ones I don't speak to any longer, the ones I haven't spoken to since I was twelve, the ones I met this year, the ones with whom I have nothing in common, the ones who know everything about me, the ones who hardly know me at all.
Thirdly, I am making myself ill watching episode after episode of Desperate Housewives. I feel like a desperate housewife and I hardly ever cook or clean. The thing that starts to make me sick about DH and other series that I have been addicted to in the past is the first unconscious feeling then nauseating awareness that the characters are not growing. They never change. They repeat their mistakes over and over again, for if they were to stop, the series would be over...or at least the title would have to change, in this case to Satisfied Empowered Women of the Home.
Fourth, I hate my hair.
In sum, it's August in Naples. Not a good time to reflect on life. There is too much glare and too little shade.
Monday, July 30, 2007
Sunday, July 29, 2007
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Monday, July 9, 2007
Saturday, July 7, 2007
Thursday, June 28, 2007
I grew up in Brooklyn and have lived most of my life in bustling, multiethnic metropoli, mostly in the USA. Naples, despite its growing immigrant population, is a homogenous society. The aspect of its homogenity that continues to be a bitch to get used to is the uniform way the Neapolitan people respond to various stimuli and situations, give or take more or less exaggerated versions.
If it were, say, noon and windy in Manhattan, and I were strolling along with La Bimba, it is unlikely that anyone would stop to say anything about it. If a cross-section of the population at Bleecker and Sullivan or 59th and Lex were to stop and talk to me, I could hardly guess what each would have to say. Take the same scene to Naples and I could guarantee, would bet a lot of money, should find a sucker to take me up on the bet, that a large number of people of different ages and sizes would say, "Shouldn't she be home for lunch? And she's going to get bronchitis! She should be wearing a scarf!"
The woman who told me that La Bimba resembled the little kidnapped girl is just an hyperbolic version of the usual comment, "She is so cute! How can anyone hurt children? Why do they abuse children?"
I'm sorry, I just don't follow, and I doubt I ever will.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Me, mouth gaping open: "Uh, where are you going?"
Granma, mouth revealing very bad, very few teeth: "Just to get some water."
Me: "Uh, no."
So, grandma dragged screaming grandchild to the nearby fountain and got some water. They came back, smiling, no hard feelings. The grandchild, named Petra, came onto our sheet, tried to caress/whack La Bimba's cheeks, tried to grab La Bimba's water then my water; the grandma just grinned her broken piano keys grin and asked various innocuous questions: "Do you know my granddaughter? Because my daughter comes here often. What's her name? My she is pretty."
I have to admit that I was afraid of grandma, and not just because she resembled the Wicked Witch of the West in need of a good hair washing. She wanted to leave her granddaughter with a total stranger! I don't care if it was for 10 seconds and that we would have remained in her line of vision! She evidently has not been reading about kidnappings. I was afraid she wouldn't come back. I was afraid she'd want La Bimba and petulant Petra to be friends.
Thus, the snobbery begins or, rather, takes on a new maternal form. I hope I like La Bimba's friends. My parents were always so good to my friends. Like the time my mom took J. and me to Atlantic City and gave us both a bunch of cash to burn. And burned it we did.
Which reminds me of when J., her sister M., and I were in Vegas, and J. had run out of money, so she sat herself at a slot machine and said, "I have to win to have some cash for the rest of the trip" (we were headed to LA, then SF after having been through DC, Virginia, Tennessee -- Graceland! Nashville's Parthenon!, Mississippi, where the cops "hid" under the overpasses to stay out of the heat...you always had enough time to slow down, Louisiana, before Katrina, J. took Benedryl to eat mudbugs and then drove in a drowsy haze over the 24 mile Lake Pontchartrain bridge), Texas, New Mexico, where a magical painting of Jesus reached out and grabbed my nose, Arizona, Grand Canyon, Brice Canyon, Zion, America can really be The Beautiful). J. pulled the arm and bing bing bing flashing lights and happy matching fruit and bars, a couple of hundred dollars in quarters came flying out. Nice job, J.!
Friends. I miss mine in CA and NY and points in between terribly, terribly.