Well, the sun continues to shine. I've now helped to make, and also consume so much, tiramisu. Incredible! I'm available to come make you a tiramisu whenever you like. It means, "Pick me up" as a nod to the espresso inside. Yum!
I'm leaving soon and very much feel I will miss my friends here and want them to know they are lifelong for me. I'll never be able to match them in the U.S. because they're just too darn calm, unhurried, appreciative, and fun. Sorry, Americans. We have stuff to learn.
Movie Pause - YOU WILL NOT BELIEVE THIS! I still cannot believe it. I'm literally rolling it around in my brain and it has nowhere to go. You know how you wait through a whole movie to go to the bathroom or get popcorn, if you're so into the movie? Even Forrest Gump? Well, welcome to Italy where you shall suffer no more! They have a 10-minute break that occurs about at the middle of the film and allows you to get food, pee, chat with your friend or whatever sounds nice. I'm thinking jumping jacks next time or a few laps around the theater. I understand they'll sell more food but it also seems so decent and honoring of the physical needs of movie watchers. Everyone just chills a bit while everyone else gets comfy and then we keep the party rolling. I like it.
My favorite moment was when my Italian friend said that, "Of course, 10 minutes isn't enough if it is a longer film." She wants more "pausa." How decent. How Italian!
Exclamations! - Mama Mia! We all love to say it. We all think it's fun. Because, it is! Throw in a hand gesture and you're able to move a lot of emotion. You can say it when you're reeeeeally happy. Or, you can cast your head down and shake it slowly with great disappointment and say, "Maaama Miiiia." It's all wonderful, and there's more where that came from.
Dai - "Come on!" You pronounce it like "dye." You can shout it loudly at your soccer team playing on television when you need them to play a LOT better. You can say it nicely at the end of a phone call as you head towards adios, or ciao, in this case. It reminds me a bit of "Dime" (dee-may) in Spanish where, during a conversation, you encourage and tease your friend a bit as they talk. "Oh, come on. No kidding." Or, "Come on, dish."
Pieta Eterna - This one cracks me UP. It's so Catholic, so Italian, and so dramatic. It's means eternal suffering. And, you want to know where I first heard it? At the card table with the ladies. We're playing burraco, of course, and this one team could really use a break on a card pick and instead they get no break and my friend Nuncia comes up with her slowly whispered, "Pieta eterna." I love it!
Madonna - Pop star? Yes. Name of the holiest of mothers of the Catholic church? Also yes. And, you gotta say it right. The emphasis is heavy on the "Ma." You can almost do a brief pause after "Ma" so it's a bit of "Ma-donna." l love it. Again, so Catholic and dramatic. I also hear this one mostly while playing cards and something terrible or wonderful has happened.
How to Say "Hi" - There are rules a-plenty in Italy on how to eat, when to eat, what to drink with what you eat, and, it turns out, how to politely greet others.
Ciao - We Americans all love "Ciao." We wanna drive a top-down Fiat, fresh off some espresso, pasta in our belly, sunflowers glowing in our eyes, and shout "Ciao!" to the world. Alas, it falls into the category of casual. You must not throw it at someone you don't know, or particularly someone who is older than you or deserves respect.
Salve - (sal-vay) This greeting is the safest. You can't go wrong. It might seem overly formal but it allows the other person to respond back either with salve or something more casual like bongiorno or ciao. It's like wearing a tie but then taking it off once you realize it's not necessary, or nylons for the femininas out there. I got a "salve" this morning from a man I've seen sitting with his dog on this bench on my way home. I've never passed him before on my bike, officially, so what does he say? "Salve." It can kinda be an old person's word but, according to my hostess, it's a great choice. I've noticed she'll say it when entering a store where she has a question and needs someone's expertise or help. It's respectful.
Bongiorno - Here's another safe option. It's literally "Good day." It feels formal to me, as an American, but it isn't. Good day, good afternoon, good evening, and good night are all separate phrases that must be saved for their proper time of day. When I'm out on a bike ride or walk in the countryside and near some modern, fit, lycra-wearing Italians, I will often just get "Giorno." It's casz ("casual" truncated). It makes me feel accepted and cool for a nanosecond.
Am I Cool? Nope - I'm not cool. Truly, you wouldn't be able to imagine how behind in fashion and size-of-clothing choice I am. I gotta drop down some sizes and tighten up my gear. I'm also short on perfume and make up. It's really a lot to feel awkward about. I'm also way too friendly. I smile at people I don't know and try to say a greeting and I get stared at with no smile in return, often. I would say this happens about 90% of the time. I have foreigner vibe and they don't dig it...right away.
Tall - Oh my Lord, I am tall. I'm so tall. It's ridiculous by Italian standards how tall I am. I am taller than most men. I'm also strong-looking. It's so awkward and confusing for Italians. I have literally learned how to say, "I have German blood." ("Ho la sangue de Germania.") It feels hilarious to me when I say it and yet, at times, it really relaxes the people I tell. It's like they're uncomfortable with my size. I imagine it IS uncomfortable for them. I had one of my rare but distinctive moments when I scared the bah-jeezus out of a woman in the women's restroom. As I walked in she pointed at the sign for women on the door and tried to instruct me of my error. When I smiled and just kept walking she let it go. She was under 5-feet tall. That's usually the crowd that I scare the most. Sorry!
Ending a Phone Call - I've noticed that people ready to get off the phone here start with "dai" then move to "va benne" (all good) then to "ciao." It's kinda goes like this, "dai...dai, si, si, va benne, alloora, okay, ciao...ciao, ciao." They might throw in an "arrivaderci" but usually not. If you'll see them soon or tomorrow you might hear, "Ci vediamo" or "A domani." It's basically a salad of salutations that initiate a process of eventually saying "ciao" a bizillion times until someone finally hangs up.