Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Guido’s Italian Behavior Survival Guide: Part 1

You are sitting in a coffee shop quietly minding your own business when someone says your name. At first you think you misheard. You look around, hoping there’s some other poor fellow who may possess the same name. Unfortunately, no. You see that creepy old guy you chatted with for 10 seconds in the Laundromat last week. What’s more, he’s coming towards you. You desperately stare deeper into the depths of your coffee cup, hoping he’ll get the message, but to your horror he is approaching with his arms open wide for a hug. He’s closing in…!
The Explanation: Italians love touching people. It is their personal mission to invade your space bubble as quickly as possible after meeting you. Hence the hugs, kisses, and hand-holding with absolute strangers.

The Solution: No, DO NOT kick box the old guy or spill your coffee on him (Trust me—it doesn’t work. He’ll just hug you anyways and you’ll both get soaked). Instead, give him a bear hug first. He’ll be temporarily disabled with surprise—make your escape!

Scenario 2: Chronically Under-dressed
The invitations to the party says “casual” and you come in your trademark jeans and a tee-shirt. Pretty casual, right?
Unfortunately, everyone else is wearing their “casual” suits, ties, and black dresses.
The Solution:
You:[With Western Accent] “You dare insult my apparel? I am showing off my cultural heritage!”

Scenario 3: The Spaghetti Hate Spiral.
It is the sixteenth night in a row, and your host mom is serving you (surprise!) …. Spaghetti.
By now the very thought of spaghetti has got you imagining horrific and epic suicidal jumps out of windows. Spaghetti, it’s disgusting. It’s vile. It’s slimy and tomato-y and disturbing. What to do????

The Solution:
Get yourself Gnocchi. With Alfredo Sauce. It’s a winged miracle to those of us who can’t stand the thought of eating a plate of what looks like worms coated in red monkey brains. We worship it.

Scenario 4: The Drivers in Italy are all trying to kill you.
Yes, you are convinced someone has put you on the hit list for all Italian drivers. In fact, they seem to purposefully be aiming for you—swerving, honking, speeding, not putting seatbelts in the vehicles you ride in…

The Solution: Stick to the dark alleyways and wear dark sunglasses. If you can’t see them, they can’t see you…

Scenario 5: Everyone but you is afraid of… SEVENTEEN (da, da, da, daaaa….)

In Italy “Seventeen” is a dark, scary number… ten million times worst than “Friday the 13th.” You can’t get your friends out of the house on the 17th day of any month, or step on the 17th stair of a hotel.
The solution: Use it to your advantage. Dentist appointment and root canal? Nope, can’t come, it’s on the 17th.  10 hour church sermon? Nuts! Is Sunday on the 17th again?! School? Gosh darn it, that must be on the 17th too.

Scenario 6: The scary eyes
Everyone expects you to stare them in the eyes—if you don’t, it means you’re hiding something. Unfortunately, you’re an anti-social pipsqueak (like me) who is scared of looking at anyone when you talk to them. Not to mention, you don’t have enough eyes to stare at everyone with.

The Solution: Hmm…. Grow some more eyeballs.

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