Consider this parte due of the previous "questo e quello" post. After all, my reflections on Italian culture will likely never be truly through.
1) Buying spaghetti is not as straight forward as it sounds. In Italy, there's no such thing as a standard box of spaghetti; instead, you will choose from a variety of types, each categorized by way of numbered scale according to the noodle's thickness.
2) Speaking of sizes, I have found shopping for clothing here quite disheartening. While I typically wear a small in the States, I barely squeeze into mediums and larges in European sizes. Shockingly, yet truthfully, I haven't gained any weight here either.
3) I have a very fragile and loathsome relationship with the Italian Postal Service.
4) The vast majority of television shows are dubbed in Italian, usually with the original version having been in English. While the kids seem neither to notice nor mind, I think this would drive me crazy. Similarly, 80% of the music you'll hear out in public or on the radio is American pop. Can you imagine if this much of our music in the States was actually Italian? Or Chinese? Or Arabic for that matter?
5) I am proud to say that I've converted this family to breakfasting on cereal. We are, however, still working out a few kinks in the process. Virginia insists upon adding two heaping tablespoons of Nesquick to her bowl and Giovanna heats her milk on the stove. Baby steps.
In the afternoon, Gio also often makes herself a "Sarah snack," which happens to be my favorite breakfast: Greek yogurt, granola, and sliced fruit. Do you have a snack named after you? Cause I do. In Italy.
6) Never have I ever been in a place with so many cats--black cats!--roaming the streets. I am sure to see at least five on any given run around Infernetto. I hate cats. At least it's not in Naples so we can all do without the groin scratching.
7) I miss squirrels.
8) And microwaves.
9) There are no rules for picking up your dog's droppings. This turns walking or running around town into one massive game of dodging land mines. Apparently, stepping in animal feces or becoming a bird's landing pad, however, are said to bring good luck. Being "unlucky" has never sounded so good.
10) The "doggy bag" doesn't exist here. It is seen as being tacky and cheap.
11) In Italy, most grandparents essentially raise their grandchildren. This is the norm and not an exaggeration either. I think being a parent once would be enough for anyone...give the senior citizens a break already!
12) Civilians dress to the 9's here, especially women. It is standard for ladies of all ages to go to the gym in celebrity-caliber make-up and wardrobe, complete with 5-inch heels. I wouldn't last 2 days in an Italian sports club.
13) Italian graffiti is to gag for. I tried explaining to Benito why this kind of cheesy, over-the-top, poetic pick-up lines would never work on the average American girl--she'd be too busy rolling her eyes, throwing up, and then running far away. He just couldn't understand why.
14) There are at least six varieties of cheese in the fridge at all times. Reminds me of Old Blue!
15) While I've recorded roughly 15 pages of newly accumulated Italian words in my journal this fall, I've also taught Benito and Giovanna a few in English as well. Just your standard household vocabulary like "cougar" (the Courtney Cox kind), "shallow," "cabin fever," "couch potato," "robbing the cradle," and "gullible," to name a few. Glad I could help, guys.
16) Italians have different refrigerator rules than Americans do. Here, onions, potatoes, garlic, and even some types of pasta are kept in the fridge. And you'll find almost nothing at all in an Italian freezer, as frozen foods are nearly non-existent.
17) One of Giulio's favorite phrases is "lol," most often used after one of my hilarious jokes. Except he never actually offers an accompanying laugh--you know, the "laugh out loud" part. Completely deadpan, he sounds out, "lull," and that's it. At least I laugh every time. Someone's got to.
18) "Andrea" is also a boy's name. But then again, this is also the country of man purses and man capris, so.
19) Last week, I made Italian spaghetti for my Italian family. Just when I thought we'd be sticking to the American meals. As Gio was dashing out the door to run some last minute errands, I asked (as I often do) if there was anything I could do for her while she was gone. Last time I ask to help around here.
20) Ashley and I decided that if there was one all-encompassing slogan for the Italian life, it'd be "piano piano." I hear this several times a day everyday in reference to all facets of life. It essentially means, "little by little" or "slowly slowly, take it easy."
21) There is a real saying in Italy which I love, and it translates to: "If you want to silence an Italian, cut off his hands." Truer words have never been spoken.
22) In company, it is considered greedy to fill your glass full of any beverage, even water. I guess you could say, they're a "glass half full" kind of nation. Or half-empty, depending on how you look at it.
23) Not only can you order a beer from any given street vendor, you can also enjoy one at McDonald's. To be sure, they don't have the same "open container" law as we do.
24) Like the Spanish, Italians have a hand gesture for "come here" that, as an American, I find very confusing. It is one that looks nearly identical to our hand motion for "shoo!"
25) Italians really do say "mama mia" and most eat pasta at least once daily. Stereotypes have to come from somewhere.