Tuesday, March 11, 2008

When In Rome...

Can't talk now. I'm going to Rome! You know, where that Pope guy lives?

To celebrate her retirement, my mom announced she was taking the family on a trip to Italy. So last December, I went and got my passport, and I cleared the time off with my boss, and I figured, "Hey, I've got three months. Plenty of time."

And then, it sort of snuck up on me. So now we're leaving on Thursday afternoon, and I'm scrambling to make sure I actually have enough clothes to last a week, because who knows if they have washing machines or even running water there?

I know Rome is a major metropolitan city with all the amenities of modern life, but every time I think about Italy, I imagine peasant women crushing grapes while men with big, bushy mustaches shoot each other in vendettas. I know it's an unfair stereotype, but everybody over there probably thinks we all wear big cowboy hats and bandannas while riding our horses to the trading post to buy chaw and fatback. Which is completely absurd, because I don't even own a bandanna!

I'm going to take my laptop with me, so I should be able to post some while I'm there. Assuming there's a connection to Nobel Prize winner Al Gore's Internet at the hotel. And assuming they have, you know, electricity...

I just know I'm going to be one of those Ugly Americans. I don't speak Italian, or Latin, or whatever they speak in Rome. I know nothing about their local customs. Does Caesar outrank the Pope? If you see a gladiator walking down the street, do you salute? Are all the phones labeled with Is, Vs, and Xs?

Sorry if this post seems a bit mean-spirited. But ever since I found out that the Romans were the ones who killed my Lord, I've been a bit angry. Not vendetta-angry, you understand. Not furious enough to, say, leave a horse's head in anyone's bed. But a mite peeved.

Ah, but I tease the ancient empire that was brought down by it's own decadence even as it crumbled beneath the might of the invading barbarians. I'm actually looking forward to this trip! My nephew Christopher is going with us, and he's been learning the language by listening to CDs. So if I need to find a library or ask how much for the blue sweater, then he'll be my go-to guy. Otherwise, I'll have to resort to the tried and true method of speaking English loudly and slowly until everyone around me learns it by brute force.

I'm ready to drink in the heady brew of another culture, and I've already learned some interesting things. For example, did you know that my age and my shirt size are the same in Rome? XL! Isn't that fascinating?

Ciao, hepcats!

4 comments:

Professor said...

Irb, I gotta say I just sat here laughing and smiling... this is gonna be great. have a wonderful time and enjoy the pizza and spaghetti- hey there are 2 words you can add to your Italian dictionary, capice? (and don't forget to pack your cowboy hat!)... gawd, to many jokes and so little space- I got everything from Disney's Lady and the Tramp to Mookstruck to Sinatra...

Anonymous said...

Buon viaggio...

If you hurry and have a photographic memory, you can quickly learn Italian by going to learnitalianpod.com and click the big button to say it like Italians do.

Congrats! You'll have great fun, but look out for the pickpockets on the Metro. A guy at my hotel said they picked his FRONT pocket. That is a level of dextrousness that under other circumstances, I'd pay good money for.

Eric

scarletvirago said...

Just keep an open mind and a ready supply of cash. Europeans love that. And who knows? You might learn something new... for instance, my husband says that while posted in Italy HE learned that apparently, women's bikinis are sold WITHOUT the tops...

Have a GREAT time, and please bring back salacious stories which spice up my attempts to live vicariously thru others!

Irb said...

Professore: My "Italian Dictionary" fits comfortably on a 3x5 note card at the moment. And "Mookstruck" would have been a much better title for that movie...

Enrico Polazzo: I'm thinking about putting my wallet in a balloon and swallowing it for the trip. Sure it's a tad inconvenient finding merchants who are willing to take your money, but it's worth it for the peace of mind.

Virago Rosso: They may sell bikinis without the tops, but at least the trains run on time...