Thursday, May 24, 2007

Memory Strada

I have figured out the source of my hand/wrist/forearm pain: bouncing La Bimba in the stroller up and down the 80-plus stairs that lead to the park and the sea from my house. I flex and jam my wrist with every step. This is Neapolitan carpal tunnel. None of the other moms who take these stairs have complained about this particular pain, but that is probably because they don't try to do handstands every couple of days. I used to love handstands. Now I avoid them like push-ups.

I was going to say "like the plague," but since that poor monkey died of it I thought it would be crass. If you take Pepto Bismol, your tongue may turn black. This happened to a friend and she didn't know about this side effect, so panicked, she looked up "black tongue" in a medical reference book. As luck should have it for this poor hypochondriac, black tongue is a symptom of bubonic plague. (I just looked at Pepto pictures on the web and sure enough, there is a photo of a black tongue. I have elected not to post the photo because it is schifosissima).

The word for handstand in Italian is verticale. I learned that from The Husband when I did a handstand at the top of Castel Sant'Elmo. This was the second day of our acquaintance. We were up there with my friend from California, doing handstands, and when we asked how to say handstand in Italian, he said, "verticale." We didn't believe him. We said things like, "We know it's vertical, but it's also upside down!" How obnoxious were we? As if we knew his language better than he did.

What is a natural career for a person who is good at algebra?

In college, I took a career test and the results showed that I should have become a priest or a rabbi. There was no parenthetical about it being a good idea to believe in God, preferably the meanie in the Old Testament for rabbi or the meanie plus his polite son plus a holy specter for priest. Do you think it's too late for me? I could be like Ben Stiller in the film Keeping the Faith. I could marry Jenna Elfman! Whatever happened to her? She's fabulous! I almost named La Bimba Dharma after her. (Hold it! Hold it! Stop the presses! I just discovered that Elfman is a Scientologist. Che delusione!).

Actually, I wanted to name La Bimba Partenope, Naples's other name, la città partenopea. But then I did a little research and discovered that Partenope was a siren who, after Ulysses dissed her, killed herself, her body washing up on the shores of Naples. I didn't think that would be a good story for La Bimba to hear about her name. Plus, a good friend pointed out that she would be nicknamed "party animal" and we mustn't make assumptions about La Bimba's sordid ways this early on in her life.

I cursed out a man in a Smart car today because he almost ran over my friend and her baby. Stupid people are allowed to drive Smart cars. He was shaking his head as if to say, "Stupid woman! You almost rolled your baby under my car!" So I told him we had the right of way and that he was in asshole, the first part in Italian, the second in English. I often curse rude Neapolitans in English. When La Bimba is with me, which is nearly always, I sing the curses to a child-friendly melody like, say, Old MacDonald, as in: "He's a big fat ass hole man, ee ai ee ai oh. And there's a mother fucker there, ee ai ee ai oh." This way she thinks I love everyone. I also like ABC/Twinkle Twinkle: "I hate ev'ry one I see -- they are evil, you agree -- make me want to punch them all -- throw them through a plywood wall -- what a bunch of dorky schmucks -- dickheads, morons, total fucks." Isn't that lovely! I should make a CD. Look out Raffi!

I am starting a list of places La Bimba has lived, so she can one day go off on her own personal Bloomsday walk.

French class. I have some things I'd like to say about French class. Cunningham Junior High School, Brooklyn, NY: Madame Karney. We had a girl with Tourette's Syndrome in the class. We were told to be kind to her, that she had a disease that caused her to say inappropriate things at inappropriate times. Did I say we were in Junior High? Could we have possibly resisted taking advantage of that poor girl? Did we? NOOOOO. We would pass her notes with "fuck" and "shit" written on them and she would say those words out loud over and over again during Madame Karney's lesson: Je suis, tu es, il est, fuck! Nous sommes, vous etes, ils sont, shit!

John Dewey High School, Brooklyn, NY: don't remember the teacher's name, also a woman. We gave all the answers to William Hunter because he was cute, a rare WASP in a sea of Italians, Jews, Latinos.

University of Wisconsin-Madison, freshman year, first class of my first semester. The TA was blind. She would always be about to write over what she had already written on the board, so we would shout, "A gauche! A gauche! A droit! A gauche." It was exhausting. I got a B, which Anne Lamott says is a very good grade. I wish I had known that then. I might not have dropped French after that.

I don't know where all these memories are coming from. I lie next to La Bimba while she drifts off to sleep and one memory after another comes racing across the finish line of my conscious mind, crashing into one another like yesterday's Giro d'Italia pile-up. I am grateful Blogger now automatically saves these drafts.

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