Posted by: 4initalia | January 26, 2009

Hair We Are

I continue to foray into the mysteries of ordinary Italian life. How do you get a haircut? On Friday, made brave by a successful bus ride from Modena’s center to the apartment, I decided to try. My bouffant locks were a mess of Mozartian excess, and I needed to make them small enough to fit on public transportation.

I found a likely salon, and after the hair stylist determined that I knew only enough Italian to ensure that he could attack my hair with impunity, we began. Mr. Haircutto slashed away at my locks. It was a great cut, and between the shampoo and the brushing he had transformed what was left of my hair into a mass of healthy curls thick enough to be a pelt. I was impressed, and this spurred him on to greater achievements. As so often happens with people who cut curly hair, he was struck by the realization that what I really wanted was to wear my hair straight. (I don’t.) He threw himself into a frenzy of straightening and piling my hair into the shape of a pyramid, so that when he was done I looked exactly like the guy who won Project Runway last year. I am FIERCE!!

Grateful for all that had happened up until the Runway do, I planned to tip large and buy products. And then I burrowed into my (of course black) purse and found…little money, and of course I had no cards. Money has been a HUGE and UNRELENTING problems for DAYS. It’s a problem of CAPITAL, see? (A little bank joke, there). So once again, ONCE AGAIN, a transaction ends in TOTAL EMBARASSMENT. I paid for the cut, but a big tip just wasn’t happening, and neva mind that volumizer, grazie.

My Italian coming along nicely. My Italian is perfectly fine. It’s when Italians speak to me that there is a problem. They pour out a million syllables a minute, and I have to sort through the ones I recognize to assemble words. It’s a lot like putting together a hand in gin rummy: I put down my three 2s, with a grand and proud flourish, and they’ve already gone out with a Ten-Jack-Queen-King- Ace run. And then we deal another hand…it’s exhausting.

The weather continues to be cold and damp. Other options include rain, snow, and icy fog. Even when the sun’s out, it’s cold. Sunny Italy? I should have known the jig was up when our furnished apartment came with a well-stocked umbrella stand. If you’re going to rent a furnished apartment, check for an umbrella stand; if it’s full, pick another country.

The lack of our ability to see sights is tempered by our ability to see Italians. These people are gorgeous. They made a pact with the devil that they could stay impossibly beautiful until they’re 50 – and then they look like everyone else. They stay thin by smoking – even the little babies, in the strollers, smoke incessantly and sneer at food. But on their 50th birthday, every Italian gets a card in the mail. It says: “Have you tasted the food in this country? Go, try some pasta….” They sample some gelato, in colors of satin and flavors of silk, they try risotto soaked in wine and golden with cheese, and then they say “To hell with those little pants!! Let’s go EAT something!!”

The men are intensely handsome. One night, I took out the trash and ran into a man who lives in the building. By the looks of his hat, he’s either the pilot of a major airline or the dictator of a minor country. And he’s gorgeous. I’ve been taking out the trash several times a day ever since. “Done with that teabag, dear? I’ll take it to the dumpster. Oh, no, you know how those take on odors if you let them sit.” I look, and can only wimper. And the women are slim as reeds, but the Bounties of Nature have been visited abundantly upon them. You’d think that, surrounded by bosoms in every sense statuesque, Da Vinci would have done better with breasts than the grapefuit halves he smacked onto his sculptures. He must have been gay.

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