Walk like an Italian
Last Wednesday, my roommate and I were walking to the bar “Amastad” (yes, pronounced like the ship, and named this for no apparent reason) to listen to a DJ friend of her’s. The bar is difficult to describe because it looked like a basement, but an Italian basement, with a DJ, bar, art, and tattooed Italians milling about. It’s also apparently a private bar with a paid membership, so that the bar can pay less taxes, or pay less to the mafia…something like that. Their aperitivo (which, since I eat it at a different bar everday, I have become quite the connoisseur..) looked as though a bunch of frat boys were trying to have Italian munchies. Potato chips and rice cakes, yes, but with pureed piselli and tuna pate? Huh?
But anyways, on the way to the bar, the roommate stopped in the middle of Piazza Vittorio Veneto and said “It’s time for a lesson.”
Now, I don’t believe I’ve fully described my roommate yet, but she is as stereotypically crazy Italian as you can get….One day lamenting about how many carbs she is eating, and the next, eating an entire loaf of focaccia. One day complaining of a cold cause by an open window, and the next day, blaming the air conditioning on the bus for her sore throat. And nearly every day, there is some new lesson for me about how to act, how to eat, how to live, etc….including where to place your shoes, how you make your bed, how to use a bidet… Yes, I am well aware of the storied history of Italy and how it’s been around for thousands of years, but, just because America has existed for only a couple hundred, doesn’t mean I don’t know what a bidet is. But I love her…
This particular lesson involved how to walk. In vivid detail she proceeded to pick apart my posture, shoulder placement,how I swung my arms, where I placed my feet. Normally, I smile and nod when she is being critical, and I chalk it up to her being Italian, me being an imbecile American, etc etc…but this time she was right. To an Italian, even the act of walking requires thought and process, in order for it to resonate in their carefully crafted world that they surround themselves with.
It was true, I had become a downtrodden foreigner. I didn’t want to be noticed. I wanted to be invisible and make it from one place to another as fast as possible, while hunched over and swinging my arms. Because, if one more Italian asks me for directions, which to me still sounds like very fast-talking jargon to which I have no idea how to respond, I may scream. But this time, I heeded her advice. It was time to suck it up and stop being a schmoe (and learn how to spell schmoe…). So, ever since, my shoulders are held back, every step of each foot is placed with a purpose, my arms remain composed and smoothly swung. Does it make a difference?
I don’t know, but it is better than being downtrodden….