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.
Sunday, June 17, 2007
Friday, June 15, 2007
Friday, June 8, 2007
Actually, it was just your average Franciscan monk pulling on his inhaler. Naples must really aggravate his asthma.
You can understand my mistake. Check out those friars on the left, downing brewskis with a couple of frat boys. Ah, brotherhoods. Brothers with hoods. Brothers in the hood with hoods. Those low-slung cord belts are kind of in now.
Yesterday, C. and I were exiting the funicolare when we witnessed some egregious butt crackage. A youngish man was walking up the steps in a pair of not-particularly-low-cut jeans and his hairy butt crack was in full view. He wasn't even bending down. If he were, I think we'd have been privy to full frontal perineum.
In trying to avoid spelling mistakes, I often consult dictionary.com. In so doing, I occasionally stumble upon interesting, anzi, startling information, such as the first definition of perineum:
1. the area in front of the anus extending to the fourchette of the vulva in the female and to the scrotum in the male.
Sounds reasonable, until you ask yourself what the vulva is a fourchette. My high school French reminds me that it is a fork. What is a fork doing near my vulva? Dic.com tells me:
1. Anatomy. the fold of skin that forms the posterior margin of the vulva.
2. Ornithology. furcula; wishbone.
3. Zoology. the frog of an animal's foot.
4. a strip of leather or fabric joining the front and back sections of a glove finger.
5. Chiefly Bridge. a tenace.
Never knew that. And now what is the frog of an animal's foot? Did they mean the foot of a frog? Um, no:
1. Any of numerous tailless, aquatic, semiaquatic, or terrestrial amphibians of the order Anura and especially of the family Ranidae, characteristically having a smooth moist skin, webbed feet, and long hind legs adapted for leaping.
2. A wedge-shaped, horny prominence in the sole of a horse's hoof.
3. A loop fastened to a belt to hold a tool or weapon.
4. An ornamental looped braid or cord with a button or knot for fastening the front of a garment.
5. A device on intersecting railroad tracks that permits wheels to cross the junction.
6. A spiked or perforated device used to support stems in a flower arrangement.
7. The nut of a violin bow.
8. Informal Hoarseness or phlegm in the throat.
9. Offensive Slang Used as a disparaging term for a French person.
NINE different defintions for frog. And you thought it was just numbers 1, 8, and 9! I think the dictionary is the key to feeling one with the universe. Look how perineum led to fourchette led to French then to frog, which leads in turn to French and back to being horny and wedge-shaped? You will be pleased to know that I am exhibiting a motherlode of self-control by not continuing my quest for wholeness and union through the exploration of the nut of a violin bow. (Let's leave it at 16 definitions for nut, number 9, a testis. Bet you never wrote the singular of that word before!).
The internet is such a lovely place to follow tangents. My father always said his mother used to talk in a circle. Not in circles, but in one circle, beginning with a point, following a series of tangents, and then returning to that point. A sort of hermeutic circle, Hermaneutic, Herman being a nice Jewish name. Not really. I'm reaching, aren't I?
"...the selfishness of those who hate themselves" (Joan Acocella on why Dorothy Parker's stories were mostly a disappointment). I don't think I hate myself -- that would be mean -- but I definitely feel the most self-involved, self-obsessed if you must, when I am imagining that other people hate me.
I did stand-up comedy once. I think it was 1992. I took a stand-up class at the New School of Social Research, which culminated in five minutes of fame at some comedy club in NY, I can't even remember which one. I mostly talked about my late gynecologist...and a bit about being in Japan. We students were interspersed with professional comedians. I fondly remember one comedienne (is it un-pc to use the feminine suffix?) who said, and I misquote, "Willard Scott was calling out to Bryant Gumbel in the NBC offices, calling 'Bry! Bry!' and Gumbel turned to him and said, 'My name is Bryant. Call me by my name, Bryant." Here she added a pregnant pause and then birthed, "If I was making as much money as Bryant Gumbel, you could call me dickfatfuckface."
My Brooklyn gynecologist, Dr. Alvin Weiner, deserves a post of his own. And you shall have one, Al. Not tonight, but some day soon, and for the rest of your heavenly days...or daily heavens...