Saturday, January 19, 2013

Out of the Mouths of Putatively-Grown Adults

No, not about Glenn Beck or Rush. Sorry :-)

Anyway, along about July 1980, I was on my back to India for a second, hopefully longer visit. (Yes, I know I haven't told you about the first visit. Patience, young padawans.) I met my dad in Rome, where he was living at the time, and he took me around to meet some of his friends, one of whom had a rather fetching young daughter, S. We hit it off and spent the next few days touring Rome (where I had grown up in the late 60's, but it had changed in many ways, so guiding was important) and meeting her friends and extended family, culminating in a big family Sunday lunch out in the country. If you ever saw "My Big, Fat Greek Wedding", you know what sort of gathering I'm talking about: 40+ people, a table from here to there packed with food and drink and the whole thing happening at top volume and high speed.

My Italian is pretty good, and I was able, for the most part, to keep up my end of the conversations, asking vocab questions as needed, letting the older folks correct my grammar when it wandered into slang and generally relaxing and enjoying the wine and food. Especially the wine. I knew enough not to drink the homemade brews casually (they are often closer to 20% than 12%), but I was still feeling a bit light-headed as the chaos diminished along with the food. Finally, we were all at that point where you are looking at a particularly lovely piece of dessert or fruit and thinking it might just be too much trouble to raise your arm to put it in your mouth, when one of the Nonni (Grandparents) asked me what I did in America?

Well, the last real job I had held before my initial Indian excursion that I was willing to talk about (I had no idea how to say "Aircraft fueller" or "Drywall carrier" in Italian, so they were out), was working at Harrah's Casino in Lake Tahoe, CA. So, that's what I said, in Italian, "I worked in a casino."

There was a moment of shocked silence, and then stiffled laughter and sideways glances from the men, and blushes and giggles from the women. I had no clue what I had just said, and trying to fill the silence, I added, "I quit because working all night was too hard."

More choking and sputtering. I turned to S., who was trying her damnest not to burst, and said, "What did I say?"

S took a few deep breaths, and then said, still in Italian, "A gambling hall is a cah-see-NO. The way you pronounced casino (cah-SEEN-oh) means bordello." She had to stop again, as I contemplated how I could maybe disappear under the table. And then, getting hold of herself, "And then you said the night work was too hard!" and at that, all decorum was lost, and the nonnis and the bapus and the mothers and the kids were shrieking with laughter and making jokes and it all went to hell and we had a great time.

So when my little one asks about Brazilian Blow-Jobs instead of Blow-Outs, or for a bathing suit instead of a suitcase, or for me to pass her a condom instead of a condiment, I smile and think that she is certainly my child, all the way.

1 comment:

  1. Bravissimo! The world can be so incredibly flat when we all sit at those long, loud tables, covered in food and drink, and just... talk.