Monday, September 26, 2011

God, It’s Good to be a Girl in Italy…

… 95% of the time. Today when I went to Piazza Maggiore to utilize the free WIFI, I got a gelato at the Caffe Vittorio Emanuel. After I paid (because you always ask after you pay and have a receipt in your hand), I asked “May I sit outside.” If you haven’t already paid, they will likely charge you 2 Euro to sit at one of the 50 empty tables outside.  Today when I asked, one of the waiters hesitated, and the owner of the bar just said, “Of course you can!” from the back room. The waiter just had this sheepish smile as he said, “We’re not supposed to… but you’re a pretty girl. Go sit.” Feeling brave with my gelato in my hand, I asked, “If I were a boy, would you have said no?” He looked at me very seriously and said, “Si. Certo.”

Yes, certainly.

Oh, it’s SO good to be a girl in Italy. Okay, yeah, so you need to be extra careful at night and sometimes you get rude things yelled at you in the streets… but about 95% of the time, having a “V” instead of a “P” is an advantage.

You see, Italian men love young women and their mothers more than anything else in the world. When you people watch in the street, no Italian boy is afraid to hold his girlfriend’s hand… to hold her purse… to buy her a gelato… to dress in matching colors. When they are not being douches, Italian boys worship at their girlfriends’ feet—and you better bet that if any other Italian guy says something about another guy’s girlfriend, all hell will break loose. The only thing they love more than their girlfriends are their mothers… which is the #1 reason I could never date an Italian boy, #2 being that they wear questionably tight pants., #3 being that they are CRAZY (case in point: Stu, formerly known as Med Student, formally known as Giuliano). Homefry is two cups of crazy… but good crazy most of the time.

My friends finally got to meet Stu… I’m pretty sure most of them doubted his existence. About five or six of us from the program got together for dinner and drinks on Saturday night, and Stu was nice enough to stop by. Thankfully, he did not disappoint.

I met Stu’s girlfriend (at least, I think she’s his girlfriend…) Chiara at the end of the street after she called me to say that they were nearby. When I asked, “Where’s Giuliano.” She just covered her face and looked very embarrassed. Then I saw him: He was weaving his way through the street on a bicycle as if he were seven and going, “Vrrroooom vrooooom.” Here’s how the rest of the conversation went:

Me: Where’d he get the bike?
Chiara: I have no idea.
Me: Hey, Giuliano—where’d you get the bike?
Giuliano: (In English) I don’t know!
Me: How do you not know where you got it?
Giuliano: (In English) I borrowed it from a friend.
Me: You borrowed or you stole it?
Giuliano: I don’t know
Chiara: *Looks embarrassed*

I’m still not entirely sure if he got the bike from a friend or stole it… although I’m assuming it’s from a friend. All I know is that when he rode away from the bar, Chiara was sitting on the back of the bike looking TERRIFIED.

Yesterday Stu invited me to get aperativo (you buy one drink for 7 Euro and get to eat all the finger food you’d like… genius idea, at least if the food is good) with some of his friends. They had all met in Paris as Erasmus students and just happened to all live in Bologna. There was Massimo, Miranda, Sara, Patricia, Stu, and myself. Although it was slightly awkward to begin with, since they were all catching up talking about old times and I was just “lah lah lahhhing” to myself as I tried to listen to what they were saying. Afterwards, however, Stu and I went with Massimo and Miranda to Piazza Maggiore to hang out for a bit. We ended up spending about 2 hours just chit-chatting. When I wasn’t participating in the conversation, I was getting lost in the beauty of Piazza Maggiore at night. It’s so, so beautiful at night—the lights are on, and the buildings seem to glow. There are so many people around, with their dogs or with their children… I could people-watch for hours. When we finally left, Stu tried to get me to get on the back of the bike with him, and I flat-out refused to do it. He just kept saying, “You no trust me? Get on bike!” To which I replied, “I don’t want to die tonight, thanks.” Miranda and Massimo both agreed that it would be more physically and mentally safe to take the bus instead.  Being the stand-up guy that he is, Stu walked me to the bus stop, waited until I got on, and then proceeded to race the bus down the street. The bus won, although he came in a close second.

I’m going to miss Stu—he’s going back to Naples this weekend. It’s going to be so strange without him at the apartment—that, and I’ll be moving into the room he’s vacating, which will be super weird the first night or two… because I just automatically think of that room as his room, not as mine. Thankfully he’ll be coming back in November, and living just a few minutes up the street. You better bet that we’re going to become best friends. I’m determined.

It’s amazing how nice people are in Italy. In the States, if you lived with a random roommate, you would spend most of your time avoiding them, not trying to convince them to eat nutella or grab aperativo with your friends. Here, it seems that most of the program peeps have lucked out with getting roommates that invite us places, help us speak Italian (I didn’t even realize Stu spoke any English until two days ago… and we’ve been living together for 3 weeks!), introduce us to their friends. It’s really extraordinary, and I feel very fortunate to have lucked out.

I am excited for Sara to return from New York, though. Before she left, she even told me that she’s directing a show that will run for a week at the Pinacoteca Nazionale, which is the Renaissance museum in Bologna—one of the top Renaissance museums in Italy. And she needs an assistant for the week of rehearsals. And she asked me to do it. And I would have free access to the museum any time I wanted. SCHWING! I’m so totes excited! Even though I may or may not be going to Sicily that week, I’d cancel it if it meant being the assistant to the crazy talented Sara. Most people doubt her existence, too—she just seems too fabulous—but Dru and Kyle met her, and they can vouch for both her existence and fabulousness. 

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