Tuesday, November 27, 2012

call me maybe

Every time my phone rings, I pick it up. Not because I want to, but because I'm a mom.

(Speaking of which, I love that all the ladies in our building stop me to ask:"How is John?" "Is John in school?" "Where is John?" We don't know their names. They don't know our names. But they all know John.

Today my phone rang and a man said a lot of things in Italian. (Because I live in Italy, natch.)

I told him that I was sorry, I didn't speak Italian, I spoke English.

He said more things in Italian.

I said I didn't understand.

He asked me why I didn't understand.

I said because I speak English, not Italian.

He asked to speak to Mike. I told him Mike was working and to call back later.

What makes this call so remarkable is that it took place IN ITALIAN on both ends, not just his. I'm not saying I spoke well or used correct verb tenses but I said actual Italian words and had a back and forth conversation with someone that I couldn't see and he couldn't see me, so I couldn't rely on any facial expressions or gestures to convey my meaning.

I felt vomity when I hung-up because I hate talking on the phone in general and in another language it isn't any better, but then I felt triumphant as I had done something I couldn't have done even two weeks ago.

I told Mike my very proud news that I had managed to converse in Italian. It was horrible, halting incorrect Italian, but it was Italian nonetheless.

Mike told me that I had been speaking to a telemarketer.

However, it was NOT a telemarketer. It was a furniture store calling to make arrangements to deliver our dining room chairs and television stand. We had ordered them in early September, but because the furniture was being shipped from France, we were told that it would take up to 30 days to arrive and we wouldn't receive it until October 1st. Imagine our surprise and delight that we are already receiving our furniture and it is barely December! As always, well-played, Italy. Well-played.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Vegetable lasagna

I had taken the other metro line (the dreaded line B) to the bus stop. Despite its size, Rome has only two metro lines. Because every time they try to build additional metro lines, they run into another ancient building that just has to be preserved, which ruins it for everyone who uses public transportation. (OMG total unintentional and yet super awesome pun--ruins/ ancient ruins . Nice.) Seriously, Rome is drowning in old.  Can we not just be happy with the all the ancient that's already here and get going on the metro line?

 Waiting to get on the same bus as I were four women on their way to work. The five of us stood there, twiddling our thumbs. One woman was younger than I and very tall. (I have noticed that there are two types of women here. Women who are my height--there are 2 or 3 of us--and women who are very tall.)  She had a bob hairstyle  that stuck out at gravity defying angles. I later sat behind her on the bus and saw that she had bobby pins all over her head. I couldn't help but wonder if she had put them in while her hair was wet to create volume but forgot to take them out.

Another woman had short curly hair and wore leggings and a blouse that didn't cover everything her leggings showcased. She was overweight, which is worth noting because of ***drum roll***the leggings. People, I know I am but an ignorant American who does not possess the innate European sense of style. But at this point I really feel I understand leggings.  If you are wearing them, there are certain parts of the body that need to be covered by another piece of fabric. Unless you look like a swimsuit model who has been photoshopped. Then you can wear whatever you want. But the rest of us need to know our limits and follow the legging rule. If your leggings  are stretched so thin that I now know the color of your underwear, they are pantyhose.

The other two women were speaking to each other in English but each had a different accent, so English must have been their common language. I am practically a linguist at this point. I can totally tell when someone is speaking English. Although I hear it so rarely it does take me a minute to realize that I understand what is being said.

Our bus pulled up. We started to line up to get on, and then the bus pulled away. Empty and without us on it. We looked at one another and stared after the bus. If I wasn't still working on my basic Italian (Buongiorno, come va? I still pronounce bene like bien. My Italian teacher loves me.), I would have inquired as to why that had happened. However, as no one seemed as surprised as I , maybe this was normal?

As we had been getting ready to board the bus, we were now closely grouped together.I realized the smell of marijuana hung thickly in the air. Of course I tried to suss out the culprit. The obvious suspect was the young woman. That would totally explain the bobby-pins and awkward hair. But it wasn't her. I had to rule out the mature professionally dressed women as well. Which left (I want to call her Vegetable Lasagna from the Seinfeld episode when Elaine and Puddy are arguing in the airplane. It doesn't really make sense, but we are going with that.) the woman in the short green blouse, sheer leggings, and underwear, aka Vegetable Lasagna.

She had to have been the pot smoker. Why does this matter? I don't know. What else are you going to do while waiting for a bus?

The bus looped around again, and everyone tensed, ready to make a run for it. This time the driver stopped and opened the doors. Bobby Pins got on. I got on. Then, right as Vegetable Lasagna got on, the bus driver shut the doors on her. I don't mean that he shut her out of getting on the bus. He literally shut them on her and she was now trapped between the doors like she was the prosciutto between two slices of bread. She screamed at the driver in Italian and he started yelling at her in return and he did not open the doors to free her. Bobby Pins didn't even look up, but I was practically standing up to get a better view of this. I suspected the bus driver was an undercover member of the leggings police and he was holding her captive until she agreed to cover up.

The driver finally opened the doors and the woman got on and continued to berate him at top volume (rightly so). And he continued to scream at her. I can't imagine what he was yelling about, seeing as how it was pretty much all his fault.  It shouldn't have been funny, but it really was. If I could have understood what was being said, I'm sure it would have been less surreal and more horrifying. But as it was, seeing the bus driver and Vegetable Lasagna screaming at each other was a show I couldn't stop watching.

Vegetable Lasagna sat down, still tossing out angry barbs, the other two women got on, and the bus pulled away. The driver was now smiling and laughing and talking to a still steaming Vegetable Lasagna (Steaming! Another pun. I am so rocking it!). He had apparently decided to forgive Vegetable Lasagna for getting caught in the doors when he shut them on her.

I have seen this before, a quick explosion of anger and gestures and suddenly there are smiles and friendly waves. I have had it happen to me when I am driving and I forget to honk the horn. If you aren't honking your horn, you are part of the problem. We all have to honk while driving, even if we are sitting at a red light.

I ended up getting off at the same stop as Vegetable Lasagna. As she stood to exit, the driver asked her if she was okay. She launched into another tirade and he continued to smile and laugh as though they had resolved this issue and were now fondly reminiscing about "the time I shut the doors on you and you were stuck halfway on the bus, and halfway out. That was a good one." Did you ever notice how many rap songs contain the word "reminisce"?

 Quite frankly, I can't imagine this bus scene ever happening in America. The ensuing lawsuits would be off the hook. Pun number 3. ENSUING LAWSUITS. I am on fire!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Graffiti Grader Saturday

Judge J:  A+. It says "FETS" and that's awesome.

Judge M: D

Judge A: I think it's trying to stress that it's important to have nice feet. Because  no one wants to see gross feet. C.

Judge M: I believe it's trying to say "Rocky" and for that, B-.

Judge A: I love how it is separated into "RA" and "KE" and it reminds me of the original Electric Company.  B.

Judge J: A+. It says "RAKE" and that's awesome.

Judge A: I see that "Blody" tag everywhere  and I can't help but think they can't properly spell "bloody."  Plus, could it be any sloppier? F.

Judge J: Light green is one of my favorite colors. A+.

Judge M: Obviously, this is one of my favorites. By erasing the "N" it now says "Egg Force." They even drew an egg. The power of grammatical editing--I love it. Really good. A-.

Judge J: I like the word "VITA" but I don't like the color blue. F.

Judge M: "Lazio Youth MILF"--a new take on an old theme. D.

Judge A: Isn't "MAMMA MILF" redundent? Also, "SEI LA MIA VITA" [you are my  life] is rather useless without  a name. Anyone could claim they wrote that for their boyfriend/girlfriend. F.

Judge M: I don't feel it. I have nothing to say.

Judge A: On a long metro ride, I enjoyed it on many levels.  The passenger who sits beneath it  can feel like a knock-out. It could be helpful directions as to what to do in case of fire. Or it could be a homage to LL Cool J.  I give it an A.

Judge J: A.  It's crazy; it says "KNOCKOUT."

Judge A: A message to all the youth that alchol is lame, don't give in to peer pressure. B."

Judge J: It almost says alcohol and I'm only eight. F!

Judge M: The number 8 obviously means this is the 8th in a series of "LAME ALCOL ASP." And by the eighth time, that message has grown stale. C.

Judge A: Without the mouse ears and nose, it would be just another Andy Warhol depiction of Marilyn Monroe. D.

Judge J: Woman with mouse ears? Crazy. B.

Judge M: C. I applaud their symbol of hope. Mickey Mouse Marilyn? As it says, "Bravo!"

Judge A: I don't like the anti-tree message. Trees never hurt anyone. Except in The Wizard of Oz. D.

Judge M: I see the Russian hammer and sickle and see it as the Giving Tree. B+

Judge J: Oh! The Giving Tree! A+.