Monday, July 16, 2007

Italy > New York


I’ve had some time to recover from my Italy withdrawal, and when I woke up this morning unjetlagged and not craving an immediate carb fix for the first time in a week, I swung around in bed, planted my feet on the floor and thought, “Good, back to normal.”

(I was going to follow that up with, “Then I cried.” But I didn’t. Like I said, things are back to normal. And the norm for a situation like this – albeit rare – is to suck in all your emotions and bottle them up until it forms a lump in your chest, like a little, deadly kitten nestling into the bed of your heart, until finally you can’t take its incessant pawing anymore and someone reaches in front of you in line at the deli to slap 50 cents on the counter for a newspaper and you “accidentally” spill coffee on his arm because you can’t take it anymore. And then you cry.)

Unlike other addictions like gambling and heroin, you can’t cure an Italy addiction by feeding it. If I am someday going to be thrown in jail, I want it to be for something cool (like armed robbery), not because I violated the immigration laws of a peaceful European nation. Despite the Keanu Reeves film “A Walk in the Clouds,” you can’t just take a job on a vineyard, marry a woman pregnant with another man’s baby and call it a life. It’s not that easy.

But that doesn’t change the fact that Keanu Reeves gives a monster performance in that film as a functionally retarded American serviceman, nor does it change the fact that Italy is just a better country. Either they’re doing something right, or we’re doing something wrong, or those things are mutually inclusive, but (pardon my French) America sucks. Sure, the United States has freedom and reality television and fruit smoothies (which are wildly underrated), but if you look at the big picture, you’ll agree with me. Consider:

1. YOU CAN’T GET DRUNK. I blame most of it on altitude (it seems you are constantly walking up some hill or another), but the fact of the matter is we drank non-stop. I’m not saying like, “We drank a little with lunch and then with dinner, too.” I mean like drinking wine is what you do when you aren’t doing anything else, and it’s also what you do as a compliment to whatever you are currently doing. It got to the point where my friend Scott was so frustrated he gulped down an entire glass of wine, screamed, “Why can’t I get drunk!” then smashed the glass against his head and vomited in a bush. It’s frustrating.

2. RIPOSO. This is the Italian version of the Spanish siesta, or “midday rest,” or as my Dad refers to it, “Why the hell is the grocery store closed again?” Generally, stores are open from 9:30am to noon or 1pm and again from 3 or 3:30pm to 7:30pm. This is merely a suggestion, as most shops in the smaller towns are closed for about four hours in the afternoon. When you think about it, it is a genius plan. Businesses don’t suffer, because there are no customers anyway. And all shops lose the same amount of business because they are al closed at the same time. Really, the only victim here is Italy’s gross domestic product. And no one really cares about that because they’re napping every afternoon and drunk every night. It makes the framers of the Constitution look like idiots.

3. No Genocide. I know that America technically doesn’t have any genocide either, but it’s still an awesome characteristic for a country to boast. It gives Italy a cache that a country like, say, Darfur just can’t compete with.

4. WOMEN. Not that I am in the market for one, but if you are you could do a lot worse than date-raping your way through the Italian countryside. The women are beautiful and seemingly slow-witted (they don’t even speak English). Moreover, flirting in Italy is much different than it is here. Maybe it’s the language barrier, but you will get nowhere with a girl in Italy unless you look her up and down with one-eyebrow cocked and then scream in her face, “Desidero sentire l'odore dei vostri capelli,” which roughly translates to “I wish to feel the odor of your hats,” or “I want to smell your hair.” You should also learn the lines, “How Catholic are you?” and “You are my ticket to citizenship!” Also, they all look the same, so be sure to somehow tag the one you are talking to so you don’t lose her in the crowd.

5. GEOGRAPHY. If there’s one thing America doesn’t do enough of it’s build cities on mountains. It got to the point where you would stand there a thousand feet up staring out over vineyards and rolling hills and be like, “Oh, another scenic overlook.” You don’t realize how much you take it for granted until you come home to your “balcony” that overlooks “the back of other buildings” and at night when you sit out there drinking scotch and looking up at “the star” you think, “I wonder if ‘Wife Swap’ is on tonight.”

6. POLITICS. I have no idea what Italy’s politics are. I don’t even know if they have a leader. I think if there are ever any matters of international importance, Italy rounds up one fat, bald guy from every city and sends him with a case of wine and some gnocchi the consulate in question and that’s that. There are almost no policemen and seemingly no crime. But it makes sense, because who is going to car-jack someone when they just finished a bottle of Chianti and a huge plate of rigatoni? No, you do what everyone else is doing and you sleep the afternoon away. Which is exactly what I am going to do right now – sleep and dream of a better life, just like Keanu Reeves.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Poor Keanu. I went to a show in Brooklyn a couple years back where a bunch of actors performed Point Break live. The person who played Keanu was chosen out of the audience and had to read the entire part off of cue cards because that best approximated Keanu's acting ability in the movie. Makes you kind of feel bad for the guy.

Also, yes, Italy is great.

-Libby Mae Brown (because this stupid thing won't let me sign in)

July 16, 2007 at 1:52:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Mrs. W said...

Yes, I will be playing the bitch today. I believe A Walk In the Clouds was in California, and the family was Hispanic. Sorry. Really. Good idea though.

July 16, 2007 at 2:02:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Rebecca said...

I don't know what Italy you were in, but I spent four months there last year and as such have a couple of things to add to your post.

1. Politics are HUGE in Italy. People bitch about it ALL THE TIME. Maybe not speaking Italian, you didn't pick up on that.

2. Crime is a huge problem in the cities. I felt like Bologna, where I spent most of my time, was fairly safe, but my friend's son still chased down a purse snatcher who had just robbed a little old lady one afternoon while I was there. And then there's Naples.

3. In the cities, there were police everywhere, all the time. And if you're female and look in their direction, well, that's just asking for trouble.

But it's true that they have the best wine in the world.

July 16, 2007 at 2:21:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Dan said...

I actually prefer being corrected on the details of A Walk in the Clouds.

An hey, Rebecca - ever think that maybe you being embroiled in political debates and surrounded by crime and police everywhere you go is because you're an impish dissident? Ever think of that?

July 16, 2007 at 2:57:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Leezer said...

"A Walk in the Clouds" wasn't set in Italy? Damn. I will need an entirely new world-view.

I was disappointed that, while in Italy, no one pinched my behind. I thought it was an national law or something. Did you pinch anyone?

July 16, 2007 at 3:12:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Scottsdale Girl said...

Italy has a President. I only know this because I was watching Food Network yesterday and on "Road Tasted" they visited a place in Atlanta that made some ravioli for the Italian President.

Seemed unimportant at the time, but now I know why I learnt it.

July 16, 2007 at 3:31:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Abigail said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

July 16, 2007 at 3:57:00 PM EDT  
Blogger abby said...

Whoops. Second try...

I highly recommend the book "Four Seasons in Rome," by Anthony Doerr.

July 16, 2007 at 4:06:00 PM EDT  
Blogger CJ said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

July 16, 2007 at 5:19:00 PM EDT  
Blogger CJ said...

Let's try that again.

Riposo is the best thing ever... I remember it when I was a kid, and it seemed more like a chore then, but now in my "grown up" days I often fantasize about drinking wine over lunch then conking out for a few hours before dragging my feet back to my office.
Kudos on your trip in Italy...
It's good that your back though. [I need shit to read at work to cure my boredom]

July 16, 2007 at 5:21:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Katie said...

America did have a genocide.

Vacation withdrawl is tough. I'm glad you've made it through.

July 16, 2007 at 8:02:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Ki Two said...

Darfur is a region of a country, not a country itself. Perhaps you were looking for the country of Sudan?

July 16, 2007 at 9:24:00 PM EDT  
Blogger dmbmeg said...

I'll genocide you, katie!

July 16, 2007 at 9:41:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Annie said...

Drinking/eating in Italy is the greatest. Saying "Salut!" while clinking glasses with your dining mates always invokes the english word "solution" for me, which pretty much makes sense. Solution: this wine.

July 16, 2007 at 9:45:00 PM EDT  
Blogger desiree said...

I actually laughed out loud at "the star" part. Thanks Dan.

July 16, 2007 at 10:53:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Look, no one really knows the difference between Mexicans and Italians. The important thing is not to let our petty differences distract us from the imminent cat invasion.

July 17, 2007 at 12:03:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Lucy said...

"If you're too lazy to read my posts, you and I have a lot in common."

I'm not too lazy, just give me time. I'll be sure to recite entire lines in a moment's time.

Great to come across your blog!

July 17, 2007 at 7:57:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Sarah said...

While I absolutely loved Italy and would go back again in a heartbeat, going there as a female is a much different experience. God forbid you look an Italian man in the eye. They will stop what they're doing, turn around and chase after you. It happened to me-no joke-at least a dozen times. I'm not saying I don't like to be chased by men, but it's like sometimes I just want to look at a statue or take a picture of a church without the constant fear of being raped on the street by a man in a bicycle helmet who keeps saying things like, "I like pretty brown eyes brown hair!".

July 17, 2007 at 9:53:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Mrs. W and rebecca:
Ever heard of Debbie Downer? Well you're her.
Furhtermore, Rebecca, knowing the details of "A Walk in the Clouds" isn't something I'd be quick to admit. But that's just me.

July 17, 2007 at 3:33:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so much more resentful about being at work after reading this.

July 17, 2007 at 5:35:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Rebecca said...

Hey, another rebecca! Yay. We shall take over the world. I think she might be my alternate universe twin or something. Based entirely on the fact that I like the name of her blog and she's my age.

Also, what kind of twisted kittens have you known that can kill you? Because that's just messed up.

July 18, 2007 at 4:00:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Hellafied said...

New reader and...

you had me at "date-raping across the Italian countryside."

July 20, 2007 at 2:28:00 PM EDT  
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