Only If He Were Italian

Of course if there is a video in the world about the amazing sex appeal of Italian men my husband will find it and spend the rest of the day peacocking around the house as if the video was made as a personal attribute to his amazingness. This is something I’ll never understand. Probably because Americans don’t have this reputation.  Our idea of romance in the US usually looks something similar to the mating rituals of injured chimpanzees. Even Channing Tatum roles, the sweetest “guy I want to marry” type, usually wins over his onscreen love interest with impressive dancing, or punching the shit out of another dude in a “I am lion king and only I shall mate with her” sort of way. Or in The Notebook where the super hot guy wins over the main babe by actually hanging from a bar like a monkey until she tires and accepts his offer. There is also this dude in the video I posted below who is terrified of a girl he likes and refuses to talk with her but, “if only he were Italian” he would offer a stare down followed by a pounce in the park. Which seems strangely attractive and is probably the reason that so many expats are married to Italian men. So, I suppose, my husband can boast for this. For a minute. Until he does something weird (like denying the existence of salmonella) and gives me a reason to make fun of him again.

Today One Of My Posts Went Viral (And There Are So Many Weird People In The World)

WINNING! My views for my post 25 Things I’ve Learned About Italy  is somewhere near 9,000 and the comments are pouring in. So far I’ve gotten a ton of really good feedback. A lot of really nice expats and Italian people writing nice things and making me feel super warm and fuzzy. Then there are a few assholes who write confusing things like, “your people love mcnuggets and  are fat” and “go back to America” or my favorite which is, “You make up deh bullshit about us!” But I totally don’t (always) because the post that HE is angrily referring to is one that I linked a bunch to show that I wasn’t making shit up. So, read the links, angry guy. But ANYWAYS,  I WENT VIRAL! HOLY CRAP! I WIN! Even if you yell at me I STILL WIN! But don’t yell at me because it makes me feel bad. Sort of. It makes me feel bad until I respond to your comments with a video of a Capybara swimming. Then it’s just funny. (My husband WHO IS ITALIAN said, “only you think that that is funny. Okay, yeah, it’s kind of funny” so we all agree!)

On a serious note: I received a lot of really good feedback and many super nice comments. So thank you fellow weirdos from all over the world who somehow totally get my sense of humor! We are legion! Thank you for sharing and for stopping and I totally hope you come back (except for the chicken nugget dude. Totally uncalled for. Guy.)

P.S. Every time you share this a kitten gets his wings. Er, gives you toxicplasmosis. I don’t know. Something happens. It’s probably a good thing. It’s probably not toxicplasmosis. 

21 Things You Should Know Before Moving To Italy (Or visiting Italy)

1. Italian men have a reputation for being family oriented and for being wonderful lovers. They’re also famous for being cheaters, liars, and scammers. Dating in Italy can be a lot like playing the lottery. You’ll either win a hopeless romantic or a spoiled man-child who could possibly ruin your life with his two-timing and drama. Here is a great slideshow titled, “Five Reasons To Date An Italian And Five Not To.” 

Gelato Cones (Florence)

Gelato Cones (Florence) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

2. While you’re in Italy you might lose ten pounds from walking but you’ll likely gain twenty from the overload of gelato. However, not all gelato is created equal. Here is the ten best places to get gelato in Florence. Go where the locals go and avoid the tourist traps where the gelato is anything but delicious. Ten Best Places To Get Gelato In Florence, Italy. 

3. There is a drinking method for Italian coffee. Un cafe (a shot of espresso) is okay for all day. Usually, a Capuccino is only drank in the morning (but I drink it all day cause I wanna). At a bar (cafe) you can order whatever you want but in a home they’re not going to make you a capuccino or Americano so don’t ask for it.

4. Aperitivo is like “happy hour” where people grab a snack and a drink usually from a cafe or somewhere like Kitch.

5. Men are really touchy-feely here. If you’re a dude prepare yourself to be kissed and hugged a lot by other dudes. You’ll live.

6. You cannot go into a church without your shoulders covered. Buy a pretty scarf and carry it with you all day when you’re site-seeing.

7. People do not often smile in customer service. They’re not being mean to you. That “holy shit I’m so excited about life” shit-eating grin that everyone has in the US is not common in Europe. It’s because people are “rude” it’s just not how they are.

8. When going to someone’s house always, always, ALWAYS bring a gift with you. A bottle of wine, some chocolates, flowers, something. Even just a casual lunch with a close friend. Do not show up to a dinner party empty handed.

9. Italians do not use “ciao” for people they don’t know. It’s rude. If you don’t know someone use “salve” to say hello and arrivaderci to say goodbye. Don’t use “ciao” unless the other person does first. This never changes if you’re talking with someone older than you. Even if you know them (unless they are family).

10. Table manners in Italy are formal. Don’t reach across the table, or snap and scream at your waitress. Don’t taste food off of each other’s plates. Even at a casual place or in a house. Also, make sure to fill up empty wine or water glasses for other people at your table. Filling up ONLY your glass when other glasses are empty is not nice. Don’t eat anything until everyone else starts eating. Don’t rest your hands in your lap. Hold fork in left hand, knife in right.

11. When you greet a friend you kiss on the cheek, left first, right second. But you don’t really put your lips on their skin. You just kind of make a kissing sound while you do it. If you plant a big wet one on someone you’ll scare them.

12. American women have a reputation for being whores. If someone asks you out be weary that they might be doing it just out of the assumption that you’re an easy lay. “But he’s so nice to me.” Doesn’t matter. Italian men are lovers. They

are insanely nice to everyone, even one-night-stands. They lay it on thick. Italian women play “hard to get” more. Try, if possible, to at least hang out casually (and non-sexually) a few times before things escalate so he will take the relationship seriously if that’s your goal. Unless you’re just in it for fun, then totally who cares. Here is an interesting article on dating Italian men. However, since I married one, I have to say that there are obviously exceptions to every rule.

13. Wiki has a great page on Italian etiquette. 

14. There are a lot of fascists in Italy. Yep. Seriously.

15. Soccer is the national sport. If you want to make small talk or bond, soccer is always the way to start. Brush up on the regional teams and learn some lingo.

16. Italians do not understand sarcasm or being ironic in the same way that the English or Americans do. Their sense of humor is more “slapstick,” unless they’ve spent time in England or had an American girlfriend (or had sex with multiple Americans which is more likely). You totally won’t get their jokes. And they won’t get yours.

17. Everyone in Florence LOVES DOGS. I’ve never, ever lived in a more dog friendly place EVER. These people LOVE dogs. Pretty much everyone has one too, hence the mass amount of dog shit on the streets. Dogs can go in restaurants, in almost all bars or cafe’s, and in more or less all clothing stores. People will try to feed your dog treats and pet your dog constantly. If you want to bring your dog to Italy make sure he/she is used to being approached by strangers.

18. Italian men are very close with their mothers. Half, HALF of all Italian men live with their parents into their 30’s. Mammoni is a serious thing here. What is mammoni, you ask? Where the mom and son are so overly attached that they still have a relationship similar to the relationship a child would have with his mother.

19. The people who sell things in the streets are usually from Senegal or Pakistan (with the roses and tissues). They are not beggers. They are peddling cheap merchandise in hopes of bettering their lives. Italians are not rude to them (generally) and more often than not they become friendly with the regular ones in their areas. My husband and I chat with them regularly. Treat them with respect. They are working their asses off trying to improve their lives. Yes, it might be annoying to have someone dangling roses in front of your face while you’re trying to romance someone on a date, just smile and say, “no, grazie.” If they persist, say “no.” Usually they’re not pushy. They’re salesmen though. And salesmen can be annoying anywhere. There is a large immigration battle here so while a lot of Italians don’t WANT immigrants here they are not usually mean to them.

20. “Gypsies,” the women in the long skirts, braided hair, and sandals, are originally from North-East India and are an ethnic group called Romani. Most of the ones in Italy immigrated to Romania and then to Italy after they were driven out of Romania. They are all over Europe because they have no homeland due to prejudice (historically they have faced genocide, forced sterilization, among other brutalities). They’re not usually dangerous but they can pickpocket on occasion. When they are near, keep your things close to you. Ignore them when they ask you for money. If you smile and politely say “no” they’ll push harder and next thing you know they are following you for 10 miles shaking their cup in your face. My dog is racist and bites them. I did not teach him to be an asshole. Really. Not all Romani people live an alternative “Gypsy,” lifestyle, many of them try to be good citizens. However, politics and prejudice has made it difficult for them because they are often associated with crime despite the fact that they’re not all criminals. In 2008 in Naples, people at the beach looked on as two little Romani girls drowned, then continued to tan only pausing occasionally to take pictures of their little dead bodies. That gives you the cold, completely insane, racism that exists between Italy and the Romani.

21. Almost all rapes in Florence are reported by American students statistically accusing eastern European men (often from Albania). This isn’t to say that Albanians are evil rapists because that’s not true and most of them are like the nicest people ever and are hardworking, good people. HOWEVER, statistics are statistics most likely because there is also a high number of undocumented post-war Albanians who are nuts and involved in illegal shit in Florence that give everyone a bad name. Don’t get wasted in public and talk with weird dudes you don’t know no matter where they are from and never go to someone’s apartment or leave a club with anyone. That’s how it starts. Practice the buddy system. Also? This absolutely does NOT mean that men from other nationalities are safer. Use good judgement with men.

Living In Italy And The Italian Psyche: See This Fiat Commercial For Example

Made in Italy

Made in Italy (Photo credit: Dr Case)

The first thing that you’ll notice when you move to Italy is that the Italians are proud people. They are well aware of the flattering stereotypes that exist about them in the world. They know that Italian humans are particularly attractive. They know that their teeny, tiny coffee is totally delicious, and that it’s nearly impossible to recreate their food exactly as they do it (or exactly as their mother does it). After living in Italy for a few months you’ll begin to find their ego and ethnocentrism slightly irritating. However, to be fair as a country they are good at design, fashion, luxury, and romance. Then again, nobody likes a show-off. I found this Fiat commercial that (in a humorous way) totally captures the Italian psyche from their assumption that women’s panties drop at a mere glimpse of Italian DNA to their obsession with teeny tiny stuff (like compact cars and mini coffees and boyfriends that could easily fit in your pocket. HOLYFUCKINGSHIT that’s a great idea! I’m going to be rich. And then I shall finally have my capybara Dwayne).

My Persian Father Comes To Italy And Shit Gets Weird Real Quick Part 2

This story has two parts. Here is part 1: My Persian Father And My Italian In-Laws Part 1

Carving of Persian (rounded hats) and Median S...

Carving of Persian (rounded hats) and Median Soldiers in traditional costume with Farvahar on Persepolis (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The next day after my dad woke up AT FIVE A.M. and F, my dad, and I, sped off towards the Rome airport to get my dad on a flight home to the US. He flies standby because his friend is a pilot or something (which I’m jealous of and demand someone to give me this as well. GIVE ME A LIFE OF AWESOME! Please?) which means that he doesn’t actually have a flight booked. If there happens to be room on the flight he can get on it. If not, he can’t. The worst part is that they make him wait until the flight leaves before they can tell him. So, he went into the airport and F, Oliver and I slept in the car for THREE HOURS. Then he called, “baby, I didn’t make it. I’m coming out. Holy shit J (my step mom) is going to kill me.” My dad is huge, like, muscle huge. And he’s a crazy person so he’s feisty and known for occasionally fighting even though he’s fifty-five. The only person he is legitimately terrified of is his wife, who I adore and who is super nice. “She’s nice,” he’ll say, “but she put a seed in my head that EXPLODEDED and make my brain dead. She es a scary one that woman.” So, needless to say, he was not excited about telling her that he would not be coming home on that day after 3 weeks of being gone. “Drive me to Milan” he said, “I can fly out of dair.” I told him that Milan, at that moment, wasn’t possible because it was HOURS away, but we could go to Florence, then the following morning we could drive him to the airport in Milan, again, AT FIVE A.M. That is love, my friends, because I AM NOT A MORNING PERSON. You can tell by ALL THE CAP LETTERS IN THIS POST.

Florence

Florence (Photo credit: ChrisYunker)

When we arrived in Florence we went out for a walk around the city. My dad, having just returned from the motherland, was in his usual mode of non-stop talking about how much IRAN RULES. Talking incessantly about Iran and how it is by fact the best place on earth, with the best people and the hottest women ever. Then he got all braggy and was like, “No seriously, look at how sexy I am. It’s because I’m Persian. So sexy. All the vymen (women) love me. Ven I go out deh are like dying to talk vith me. You don’t enderstand it.” Then I threw up.

 

ME: “Dad, seriously, you’re an attractive OLD DUDE but you’re my dad so could you stop talking about how hot you are and how many women want to jump your bones? Please? You’re making me sick.”

 

Dad: “Why it makes you sick!? It’s TRUE GEHL! Ven i go somewhere I am surrounded by deh vymen. Deh all wanted a talk to me.”

F: “You know, I have the same problem. It’s hard being so attractive.”

ME: “Dear god. Kill me now.”

Dad: “Yeah! It’s true! I mean, you’re not as attractive as me because yair Italian but yair not bad looking boy. But, you got deh best vomen in deh world. Because she has deh PERSIAN BLOOD.”

F: “Yeah, dats true. I got pretty luck.”

ME: “So many dudes want to get with me. I’m so bodacious. ALL THE DUDES WANT ME.”

Dad: “I’m not joking. Deh Persian vymen are the best vymen in the world. Most intelligent, most passionate, most beautiful. Unfortunately my daughter is half of the stupid white. But, you can’t see it. You can only see my genes. Look at air!”

ME: “You guys are painful. But I do have to say that F does get a lot of female attention. And he knows it. Since he spends half of everyday telling me how lucky I am because he’s so incredibly hot. You two are too much alike. It’s gross.”

F: “Well, babe, when you look like this, what can you do?”

ME: “Look like what? A gerbil?”

Dad: “All deh vymen want to chat vith me on Skype and Facebook. But I tell them to get lost gehl because I have a vife who is mean. But, I feel bad to break so many of the gehls hearts. You know?”

Me: Sigh.

After two hours of listening to my husband and father talk about how epically awesome they both are we headed home stopping momentarily at the train station so F could run in and cancel a ticket for my dad. And then something weird happened, but to explain why it’s weird you need a back story. My dad was MIA for the first like 8 years of my life (Dad, It’s Nice To Meet You, From My Memoir, The Dichotomy Of Crazy). I saw him once or twice that I remember and that’s it. He says that my mom was withholding me, and my mom says that he just didn’t want to be a dad. Whatever, doesn’t matter. What does matter is that we have NEVER talked about it. My sister says that he just feels so guilt-ridden that he can’t bring it up because he thinks that I’ll tell him that I hate him. Which I don’t. I love my dad, in spite of himself. I did resent him for a long time though because my dad is a Virgo, a perfectionist, and he’s hyper HYPER critical. You can’t go from being absent to constantly lecturing someone about their constant failings because, hello, that’s just a dickhead move. In all fairness, my dad sees constant criticism as love (but it took me 28 years to understand that). He thinks that in pushing hard he’s making me work harder towards being awesome, however, it’s not easy on the self esteem. Figure it out dude, you have FOUR DAUGHTERS. So, anyways, in the car we chatted and I brought up my writing and he started to get weird. He hates that I write about him and that I write in general. “I don’t hate you, dad. I’m not angry with you. I really like how I turned out. Really. I’m fine. I was angry at you for a long time for ignoring things instead of talking with me about them. But I’m fine now.” The look of relief spread across his face instantly. “Vhat do you write about?” He asked, for the first time, EVER IN MY LIFE. “I make fun of you a lot,” I said, “but I also say good things about you, too.” He smiled. “Vehl, dats good I guess.” We talked about how he met my mom, my early years, and his regrets for the first time ever AND I AM THIRTY-TWO, but it was awesome. I feel much closer to him now and I just want to snuggle his narcissistic head off. So, the lesson, guys, is that communication is key. If you try to sweep things under the rug you’ll end up with a daughter who writes memoirs about what a fuck-nugget you are.

My husband, F, came skipping out to the car a few minutes later. We had dinner together where my dad and F, who are funny foreign buddies, talked about wine and how they wanted to live in the middle of the mountains on a vineyard together and I was all, “Great! Now my dad is totally stealing my husband,” but I was happy and felt lucky to have such a complex but wonderful family: a husband who drives me insane but will unselfishly do anything for me and people I care about, a father who is super crazy but passionate, proud, and apparently the sexiest man on earth, and for the chance to listen and silently make fun of two people trying to communicate in English without the use of “th” or “w” and a vowel added to the end of every sentence.

My Persian Father And My Italian In-Laws Part 1

English: Sigmund Freud

English: Sigmund Freud (Photo credit: Wikipedia). You Win This Round, Freud. You win This Round.

My father was born in Iran. He moved to the US when he was eighteen and I came along shortly after that, as my father says, “if I even touch a woman she gets pregnant, it’s a gift, mostly.” Judging from the size and complexity of our family I would say he’s right on the money. My step-mother has said “Freud must have been on to something because Francesco is really similar to your dad,” which is totally creepy. They do have a lot of similarities like an outlandish amount of body hair and both of them put their adjectives after their nouns. Oh, and neither of them can pronounce “th”. My family wasn’t diverse enough with a father who says things like, “yair ent she got ta ded married at eleven I dink,” and, “yair intelligent because of yair persian genes. You make deh mistakes because yair half of deh white, baby,” so I had to also move to a foreign country and marry an Italian guy. I obviously like things to be complicated.

My father visited Iran last week to see our family that still lives there. F and I Skyped with him during a party they were throwing for my father there. My 3,457,689 relatives sat the computer down in a corner and danced for us while taking turns to introduce themselves. They crowded the computer and yelled, “I love you!” “Yair beautiful” and “your dad is beautiful,” while blowing me kisses and waiving maniacally at my husband who tried to take it all in. The meeting our massive family, the belly dancing, and the random shots of alcohol, all at once. But Iranians live under an oppressive regime of Muslim extremists! You say? You’ve clearly not spent much time inside the closed doors of a persian household. Persians know how to party. When my father left Iran a few days later to go back to the USA he stopped in Rome to visit me. F and I picked him up from the Rome Fiumicino airport and brought him to Cassino for dinner at Francesco’s parents house. My dad and them  get along well even though F’s parents can’t speak English because they all have the, “I’m old, traditional, and come from a village,” thing in common, mixed with, “look at her being a silly American!” thing. Oh, and the, “I say whatever I think without a filter and then make Francesco translate it for us,” thing. We walked into their apartment. Everyone greeted with kisses. F’s parents luckily remembered that persians kiss 3 times when they greet. Italians only kiss twice. The last time my dad was here, the confusion over the number of cheek kisses resulted in our dads pretty much making out.  After the kissing my dad said, “Francesco’s dad looks really old this time.” I took a deep breathe and translated, “my dad is so happy to see everyone!” Francesco’s mother came next to me and said, “Your dad looks fat this time.” I breathed in, shrugged, and changed the subject to dinner. “But he looks OLD!” my dad repeated himself. “He looks FAT! He gained WEIGHT!” F’s mom repeated even louder and pointed menacingly at my dad’s stomach. Finally I turned. “She says you look fat. He says you look old.” Everyone blushed and laughed. I’ll never understand these people.

Francesco’s mom made enough food for a small army. We started with grilled peppers and artichokes, then pasta pomodoro, followed by grilled shrimp and tuna (that my father in law caught himself), and then they ate fresh mozzarella made that afternoon, fruit, and grappa. We drank red wine that my father-in-law made just this year, and bread with hot peppers immersed in olive oil that the father also grew and canned himself. The carbon footprint that these people leave behind is so small, it’s amazing and inspiring. I prefer to eat a vegetarian diet with fish here and there. I’m not good with fish, though. I eat slowly and have a fear that if I swallow a bone IT WILL PUNCTURE MY INSIDES AND MY GUTS WILL FALL OUT AND I WILL DIE OR BECOME MAIMED FOR LIFE. So, I chew slowly, my hand constantly searches my lips for a tiny, prickling thing that my tongue has ejected forward. It pisses everyone the fuck off. “Eat your goddamn food like a normal person!” My father-in-law yelled while sucking on a fish head. “Misty, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU! JUST EAT THE BONE!” My dad chimed in. Francesco giggled. His mom smirked and I screamed, “No, ME DIE! NO ME WANT TO DIE! Leave ME TO BE! Eat your head. Gross, are you!” While I molested my food. And speaking of heads.

Father-in-law: I love heads! I eat lamb heads! SO GOOD!

My dad: I LOVE LAMB HEADS TOO! It’s so good! And the brains! Delicious!

Mother-in-law: She (gesturing to me) doesn’t eat lamb. She says it’s mean. It’s mean. They kill the baby lambs! It’s true. It’s mean.

My dad: Humans are so selfish it’s disgusting. But seriously, lamb head is delicious

Father-in-law: Oh my god, like totally. Like, mmm, love it. Can I get a “BOO-YA!”*

My dad: Raise the roof bitches.*

After they talked about gross stuff for a really long time my dad disapeared and came back with two giant bags of pistachios from Iran and Gaz (candy). “These are pistachios from Iran. They are way better than the stuff you guys have. Italian pistachios suck.” I shook my head and sighed.

We went to bed because we had to wake up at 5 a.m. to take my dad to the airport so he could MISS HIS FLIGHT. But this is already long so I’ll post the other half tomorrow.

*Some of that conversation might have been exaggerated to sound like two teenage girls. Because that’s what they reminded me of.