Monday, September 24, 2007

You'd Know Better than Me

Follow-up to the veline entry. Interesting piece by an American or English (not clear) man about women in Italy. Conveniently leaves out some details (like the fact that Michelle Hunziker frequently co-hosts Striscia La Notizia). Interesting paragraph about Milan and childbirth (for you michellanea). Many of the "what the f---?" reactions we expats frequently have to certain Italian habits are addressed. What came through for me is what Luigi Barzini says over and over again in The Italians: for the most part, whatever it is that is shocking us or appalling us, Italians like it that way. It's so hard not to pass judgement though!

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.
Me: Sigh.

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!
Me: Sigh.

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.

3 comments:

Italiana Americana said...

aahahah what a funny story! it's funny what italians pick out of american culture to talk about...especially when they say we speak badly..i mean italian men say caz** in every phrase. I don't think americans really use that much bad language...but I guess it depends. Baci!

Michellanea said...

I read that article a while ago. Yep, tell me something I don't know about the Milanese birthing wards...Thanks for thinking of me. :)
Michelle

Farfallina said...

I could almost picture that young lady with sad eyes raising a baby. Wanted to hug her! Hope she has good family support.

Yes, sigh.

Other than that, it's funny the silly tales that can be passed around. Ah, the famous "I heard that..." (!).