Saturday, March 15, 2003

Explicit euphemisms

I survived the two-week trip around very western Europe, and now I’m here to tell you all about it. You will be pleased to know my mom did not die on the trip. There were several times when I thought she would kick the bucket, but it turns out that I walked her “so much” that her feet hurt too badly to kick anything. So she’s still alive, but barely. She now has a wicked cold from “all” of the walking. (That’s probably what she blames it on, that is.)

This was a very educational trip. I learned many things. For instance, did you know that that “Leaning tower of Pisa” stuff isn’t a joke? It’s really leaning...and it’s leaning A LOT, too! How does it lean that much and not fall over? I can’t do it my own self, and it’s been there like that since way before any of you were thought of!

Now I’m only talking to the people in Monroe. Hey, Monroyans. Why are we called that? That is a funny word. You know that man that goes around with the really bad toupee? Have you seen him about, and you almost want to advise him to find a new supplier of headgear? You know the one I’m talking about? Well, I can tell you, and my mom can second this, that he doesn’t have the worst hairpiece in the world. In fact, his isn‘t even within a Shaq’s reach of being the worst. The concierge at a hotel where we were going to stay in Rome owns that title. People, the rug just sat on his head. His sideburns, his bangs, and everything else were pulled away from his head. It was terrible. And I had to talk to this man, straining every muscle in my body so I wouldn’t crack up right in front of him. I’m glad he told us that we had to switch hotels so I wouldn’t have had to talk to him again. I wish I could have, in good conscience, taken a picture.

After Rome, we went to Florence, and while we were there, we went to the Uffizi Gallery and the nearby Piazza della Signoria, where stands Michelangelo’s “David” and many other statues of nude men and their nude members. We renamed it “the Peanut Gallery” because we had the self-given power to do it. There, in front of all of that anatomy, my mom decided to give me “the talk”. She got into it pretty good when I said, “Mom, I am of the MTV generation. Madonna taught me all of this a long time ago.” With that settled, we went to the Ponte di Vecchio to look at jewels of a different nature. That was also the day we went to Pisa to see its euphemism. Did I mention that it’s really leaning?

Now I’ve been back in the village a week. Thursday we had a Carnaval celebration at school. Some students and teachers dressed up, and they paraded outside during a scheduled parading. There were some very cute things. One group did a “Snow White” act. There was the queen, Snow White, the mirror, the dwarves, the witch, the prince, and some beast. They made all of the costumes, and they were brilliant, especially the dwarves. It was fantastic!

Another group of six girls walked out in garbage bags, each with a letter on the front, spelling out “pareil” (the same). They did a little choreography, then stripped off the bags. Each one was dressed differently – from a business woman in a suit, to a lady of the night in a nightie. It was interesting and very smart.

But the most unforgettable and the most unforgivable was two guys in drag looking like cheap hookers. It was funny and disturbing at the same time. They walked down the “runway”, and halfway down, one took off his boa, walked over to the principal, threw it around his neck, and danced around him! Now, where I come from, one would have been suspended for even thinking about doing such a thing, but in France, it is apparently normal behaviour. The principal got a good chuckle out of it, and so did everyone else.
Those are my three favourite highlights: one from each of the last three weeks. Many other great things happened. I didn’t see the Pope, but I bought a sticker. I have fallen in love with Italy. It is beautiful, and we were only in the cities. Now I need to experience some of the countryside. I will have to go some other time. If anyone wants to go to Europe with me as their pseudo-guide and pay for it, I’d be happy to lend them my services and my, now, 20 words of Italian. “Biglietti” (tickets) is a very useful word; so was “piselli” (packages, units, etc.) because, hoo boy, were there a lot of them to be seen!

I now only have five more working weeks in the village. I will try really hard to keep you all informed of the goings-on as I close up my time here. Be good, and love each other.

Pace! (“Peace”, another Italian word I learned because everyone has flags hanging from their windows that say “PACE” on them.)

P.S. My mom didn’t really attempt to give me “the talk”, but I think the situation would have played out as I pretended if she had tried. That or I would have been traumatised because can you imagine being 26 and having your mom try to talk to you about sex?!

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