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Misdemeanor on the home front 0

Dear Bradshaw,

I took a bus to my doctor’s appointment last Wednesday. I’d been there once before but never by bus so when I got off, glanced up at the street sign and read Via Stimigliano, I wasn’t sure in which direction to head in order to find Via Monte delle Gioie. Familiar with the area and knowing I was near, however, I decided to wander in hopes of happening upon the street by chance. Trusting my instinct, I continued along Via Stimigliano, convinced that one of the side streets had to be the right one.

After passing three intersections, to be safe, I entered a bar to ask for directions. The cashier looked at me as if my face was floating inches above my head when I asked where to find Via Monte delle Gioie. She pointed out the door, and said, “THAT is Via Monte delle Gioia.”

After exiting, I walked another twenty feet, looked up at the street sign and, sure enough, Via Stimigliano had turned into Via Monte delle Gioie.

Later that evening, while eating dinner with Francesca, I told her the story, suggesting that changing a street’s name despite the fact that it’s straight as an arrow is an example of why and how Italians tend to be unorganized.

Francesca’s fork clanged on her plate as she shifted to face me, and asked, “Are you saying Americans are more organized than Italians?”

“Yes,” I said, “that’s exactly what I’m saying.”

“So you think you’re more organized than me?”

“Are we talking about Americans and Italians, or you and me?”

“You and me.” She pursed her lips and fixed me with a look that could have set snow on fire.

“Yes, I do think I’m more organized than you are.”

“Oh really? Why is that? Give me one example.”

“I could give you ten examples but if you want just one how about the fact that you’re always leaving the refrigerator door open.”

“That’s just because I’m in a hurry sometimes,” she said. “That has nothing to do with being unorganized.”

“Fine. What would you call it?”

“Distracted.”

“Distracted is practically the same thing. The changing street names in Rome are distracting, so you are distracted. That’s my point.”

“It’s not the same thing.”

I said, “That cashier today thought I was an idiot because I asked where Via Monte delle Gioie was when I was on Via Monte delle Gioie. But the sign at one end of the block said Via Stimigliano while at the other end it said Via Monte delle Gioie. So who’s confused? Me or the street? I say the entire city and the people who live in it. Meanwhile, leaving the refrigerator door open more than once or twice in your life is more than distracted. It’s insanity.”

“So I’ve left the door open a few times. It can happen to anyone.”

“A few times? You leave it open all the time!”

“I do not.”

“No? You don’t? Really? You know what?” I glanced toward the kitchen. “I bet it’s open right now.”

“It isn’t open right now.”

“What are the chances that it’s open?”

“It definitely isn’t open.”

“Oh no? And what if it is?”

“It isn’t. I checked it before we sat down.”

“Really? You’re one hundred percent positive that the refrigerator isn’t open? I’m going to get up and go over there right now. If it’s open? Then what?”

“I’m telling you it isn’t. Anyway, what do I care? Go and check if you like.”

I stood, approached the kitchen, and found the refrigerator door not only open but wide enough to reach inside and pull out a potato. I stopped a good distance away and in plain sight so there could be no doubt that she had left the door open. Turning around, I crossed my arms and smiled so big the opposite corners of my mouth almost touched behind my head.

Francesca stared at me through half-slit eyes as she stood and then neared the kitchen. Finding the refrigerator door open, she curled over and laughed like I’d never seen anyone laugh before. I, however, failed to see what was so funny. As far as I was concerned, leaving the refrigerator door open is a misdemeanor on the home front. There should be a penalty to pay, like she owes more on the electric bill or has to walk the plank or something. Anyway, Shaw, all I can say is, funny or not, that was a victory for me… forever.

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