Thursday, January 30, 2014

Why not?

People keep treating Stella like she is a regular dog and She.Is.Baffled. It is not that Stella is an unkind dog so much as that she is crabby indifferent. Beyond food and thunderstorms, there is not much in life about which she feels strongly. She tolerates more than she enjoys. And whereas Sookie believes that life is divided into things she LOVES and things she hasn't yet encountered but is sure that when she does she'll LOVE them, Stella's approach is more stay the hell away from me and I'll stay the hell away from you.

But the Romans are dog people as evidenced by all the dogs shopping in IKEA and checking out sales  in the malls and reading newspapers in cafes and sitting beside human children in double strollers. And so people think nothing of grabbing Stella's snout and kissing her. Which shocks her because she has spent 14 years making it clear that she is Not That Kind Of Dog. And so it would seem that Stella and the Italians suffer the same language barrier that the Italians and I suffer. By which I mean just me because the Italians can speak Italian perfectly well.

The building in which we live is populated mainly by older folks. They could be anywhere from 50-107 because Italians do not at some point stop fighting the good fight and slide into pants with elastic waists and sensible shoes ( unless you count motorcycle boots). Men wear hats and vests with jackets and ties to get a coffee and women who use a cane to walk still wear heels and minks(there is absolutely no such thing as political correctness here, so just go with it) and berets. I have seen ladies of a certain age sporting blue hair--not the heavily permed, teased and tinted blue hair of grandmothers of yore, but full-on-asymmetrical-bob-dyed-blue-hair blue. Because as our local barber says, "Perche no?" Incidentally, the local barber closed shop for a bit as he had an additional room built onto his shop. "Ah! expanding?" asked my husband.
"No, I am getting a foosball table," replied the barber. A year later, the foosball table has yet to materialize , but then again, all of Rome wonders if we will see Line C completed during our lifetime.

One night I was returning from an outing with the dogs and met one of our elderly neighbors on the stairs ( yet another reason why Italians live longer : even our oldest of neighbors think nothing of eschewing the elevator in favor of walking four or seven flights of stairs). I was carrying Stella as she is ill-bred and defective has a bad back and our neighbor stopped to kiss her (Stella pulled back in startled dismay) and to dangle her scarf for Sookie to bat as though she was a cat, which Sookie gleefully obliged by batting. As though she was a cat. "Mi piace le scarpe," I said in my awkward, ill-accented Italian, pointing to her shoes that were heavily embroidered in rich colors and had the faces of lions on the toes. She replied very quickly in surprise and there were a lot of words, the gist, I think being the question did I speak Italian? I am known in our building as the one who does not speak Italian. All conversation, including queries as to why I don't speak Italian, are directed to my husband and son. I told her that my Italian was bad but that I was trying. Many more words were said, the gist maybe being that it takes time or that it was raining, and she leaned forward to again kiss Stella.

And that was when I noticed her necklaces. One necklace bore an ornate cross. The other necklace was a plastic red t-shirt the size of my hand bearing the number 10 and the name Totti, as in Francesco Totti, captain of the AS Roma soccer team. And seeing that necklace on a woman who is 87 if she's a day was a reminder that in Rome, no matter how many times you step in dog poop (literal and figurative), there is always the possibility of being delighted.

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