September 26, 2004
You all know that I love my identity as a military wife, but the worst feeling in the world is that split second right after you have to answer the "Why are you living in Germany?" question. You never know what to expect from your European questioner. Most often you get that "oh", that bit of surprise that you're not here to bum around Europe "finding yourself" by getting drunk with Australians. Sometimes you get that recoil, and you feel the mood of the conversation change. Sometimes you get the look of pity, like it must be so miserable living under the thumb of the New Hitler.
And sometimes you get the, "Sure, I know where you live. I used to train in Grafenwoehr when I was in the Italian military."
Mom and I had a wonderful talk with this porcelain artist, and we could find enough common ground to really try to understand each other. He confessed to full support of the war in Iraq -- he likes the flypaper concept -- but admitted that he doesn't always think President Bush is best for the world. He he thought that a president who would kiss France's butt a little would be better for other countries in the EU. I can see where he's coming from: As an American, I don't give a flying leap what France and Germany think, but I can now see better how the smaller EU countries do have to play the cooperation game, even though this Italian man rolled his eyes and agreed that it was farcical. Mom was extremely forthright and asked him many questions to which I feared the answers, but we learned a lot from him, and hopefully he from us.
So I didn't get to meet Serenade, but we met his kindred spirit.
Overall, I found Italy to be quite pleasant. All of the people we met seemed to be genuinely happy to meet us Americans, and one of them even went on and on about how much she loved Wisconsin. Really. I've never heard a foreigner speak of anywhere but NYC, LA, or Vegas. The loving way she spoke about Wisconsin was quite touching.
The Italians also seemed thrilled that I had spent a day teaching myself a bit of Italian. All I did was teach myself a bit of non parlo italiano and quanto questa, but I guess the effort went a long way. I found the language to be quite easy to pick up, albeit on a superficial level. I crutched on my French and guessed by saying the latin root with an Italian accent a couple of times and managed to get along quite well. I also had a not-ugly-American moment when we wanted to ask a shopkeeper a question and my Italian simply wouldn't do: we asked if he spoke any English, and he shrugged apologetically and said, "Non...Deutsch." Well then, I thought, and asked the question auf Deutsch. Heh. And I speak two other languages that didn't even enter into the picture, buddy. Now go tell your friends that there are Americans who aren't monolingual jerks.
The Italians loved pointing and whispering about my American-issued license plate, I ate the same pizza at the same restaurant three nights in a row, it was that good, and I burned a ton of gas driving up and down those mountains. What a week.
Posted by: Dominic at September 27, 2004 07:08 AM (pqgq+)
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