This is not a rant. I am not in a foul and ugly mood. It is just that after a while I can no longer hold my tongue. Some things in Italy annoy me.
Kids and Cars –
Everyone out there who is as old as I am can remember the fun filled roll around in the back seat time before mandatory seat belts. Clean it up, I’m talking about being a kid and not buckled into your assigned third of the seat. As toddlers we would stand on the back seat of the car peering out the back window, sticking our tongues out at the drivers behind us. Or hanging out the side window and giving trucks the arm pull down signal for tooting their big horn – then getting yelled out for sticking our heads out. When you were about 4,can you remember sitting on your dad’s lap and “driving the car” ? How about those fun filled times riding in the back of the pick up truck. Sitting on the edge of the truck bed and balancing as the wind whipped your face. Then there was the piece of plywood my father had cut to fit the back seat of the car that my mom tossed pillows on. it was an instant bed for long drives. So what if the car flipped and we flopped around. Somehow we all survived and made it to – well whatever age we are. Then someone started keeping data on folks killed in cars. A lot of them and many because they weren’t buckled in. Safety first! Seat belts save lives! Well, where car safety is concerned, here in Southern Italy it is kind of like 1955 . I see toddlers standing on front seats – wheeee – you can really see out the window. Now, not all parents do that – I have seen kids buckled up for safety. Frankly though, I see more standing on seats and hardly ever see a car seat. Someone lovingly holds all the wee ones. The absolute worse thing I saw was in Puglia – a helmetless tiny tyke on the back of a giant motor cycle clutching dad’s shirt as they sped through town. Jack pointed out the kid was smiling and I was the only one having a hissy-fit. Apparently, according to Jack, I am often the only one having a hissy-fit. Is this car riding freedom a good thing or a not so good thing? You decide.
You Can Dress Them Up But You Can’t Shut Them Up –
This is the second year that Comicron, the fabulous international comic short film festival was staged in Piazza Roma. Artisitic Director, Ugo Gregoretti spent his younger days summering in Pontelandolfo. It is a classy event, from the red carpet, the film stars attending, the beautifully appointed stage, to the well dressed folks sitting in the cordoned off area. We got there a tad late and sat in the back behind the incredibly well dressed Antonetta. She had on a fabulous long silky blue gown and dingle dangle sparkly jewelry. How did I know her name was Antonetta? Her pals got there later than we did and during a film bellowed ANTONETTA. She leaped from her seat and five dapperly dressed donne chatted in the aisle next to us. My evil eye and shushing had no effect. Of course the young ushers also occiasionaly chit chatted in the aisle. Jack said I am the only one it bothers and I should get over it – do you sense a “get over it” theme here? This is not the only time chatty chicks bothered the hell out of me. The first time I got so insensed I asked them to be quiet – the performers deserved respect. Who were the performers? Primary school kids! The moms in the audience felt compelled to share their shopping lists, lover’s names and whatever was on their minds throughout the performance. The only time they were quiet was when they were snapping pictures of their own kid on stage. Che fa! Is freedom of speech whenever and wherever you want to talk a good thing or a not so good thing? You decide.
What Time Does It Start?
The producer/director in me gnashes teeth and is ready to kill when the advertised time of events are absolutely ignored. My theory is the lack of timeliness is taught in the elementary school. Case in point. A few years back I went to the primary school’s end of year show. It was slated to start at 3:00. Parents who worked left work early to get there by 2:00 to join the non working parents and thier toddlers in line. Why so early? Well audience consideration is not taught in the school either – there were not enough seats for all the parents. People got there early to grab a seat. It was a hot June afternoon. By three, standing outside the school in the sun I was drenched in sweat. By three-thirty, I was drenched in hate and wondering why the bloody doors hadn’t opened. We could hear the kids still rehearsing. Hey teachers, if you don’t have it ready by now give it up. They let us in at about 3:35. Everyone scrambled for a seat or wall and the spectacular finally began about ten minutes later. (Don’t get me started on the production values.)
The team that produces the events in the piazza and/or the acts they hire seem to have lost their watches too. This year the August festaval headliner, jazzman James Senese was promoted as starting at 10:00. At 9:30 I’m nagging Jack to get a move on so we can get to the village before the show starts. Jack raised an eyebrow and said , “it will start at 11:00.” We got to the piazza a bit before 10:00 and there wasn’t any crowd. Sitting at a table at Bar Mixed Fantasy, Jack told me to look behind me. I did and there sat the roadies for Senese eating sausage sandwhiches at 10:00 PM. No one was on the stage. At about 10:45 things started to wake up and crowds started to form in front of the stage. Somehow they knew when the show would start. Son of a witch, Jack was right – the show started at 11:00. Cripes, maybe I am an Ugly American with my own expectances and Jersey girl angst. Jack, ever living his theme with me said, ” Midge, this is Italia, get over it.” I must say, I have never gone to events in Northern Italy – except the opera in Verona and that started about 10 minutes late – so I don’t know if tardieness is just a southern thing or universal. In the scheme of life does timeliness really matter? Is timeliness – or the lack thereof – a good thing or a not so good thing? You decide.
Those of you who live in or visit Italy or simply have an opinion – please join the conversation. You decide!
Ci vediamo . Thanks for listening.