Sunday, June 19, 2016

Stories from Italy

By Laura P. Valtorta

In Italy there are many funny situations, even though the Italian idea of humor is far removed from what Americans find comical. When I’m here, I laugh a lot.
Since this is election time, I’ve been watching political commercials on TV. My favorite is for the Pensioners’ Party. A lively/crazy old guy has a commercial where he shows a video clip of pensioners marching in protest. He says several times “Pensionati, all’attacco!” (Pensioners – charge!) and makes a chopping motion with his hand. This has become my personal battle cry.

Clara and I went to the old male hairdresser in Cavi Borgo to get our hair cut. I informed him that the best shampoo for curly hair in the U.S. is cleansing conditioner, like Wen. Grabbing his crotch, rapper style, he advised us to use douche (shampoo intimo) on our hair. Clara and I couldn’t stop laughing.

In front of the Italian stock exchange in Milan, at Piazza Affari, the government has erected a giant statue of a hand giving the finger. At first I thought it was a prank, but Dante did some research and found that it was a work of art commissioned in 2011.

To help my Italian, I usually look for an easy book to read. This time I found Cosa Pensano le Ragazze? (What do Girls Think?), written by the journalist Concita de Gregorio. I say “written” meaning that she is more of an editor. The review I read stated that she employed a number of researchers to interview the girls and young women. How much credit should Ms. De Gregorio be given for collecting the data and choosing which interviews to publish? I admire and follow the tradition established by Studs Terkel, who (I hope) interviewed all of his subjects face-to-face. Working is one of my favorite books, ever.

Ms. De Gregorio’s book is very “lite” and easy to read. The first interview, with two teenagers, advises choosing a man the same way you choose a puppy.

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