Living In Italy: “Your Boobs Suck,” And Other Lessons I Learned From My Mother-In-Law

Hello Everyone! This post is REALLY LONG so I apologize. It’s only part of a longer story that I’m working on but I thought you guys would find it amusing because this shit was ridiculous but in retrospect hilarious and only slightly traumatic.

………………………………….

This is why I drink.

This is why I drink.

Shortly after F and I were engaged, his mother came to Florence to stay with us for the weekend. She was pissed that her bouncing baby boy wanted to marry what she saw as a linguistically challenged, overtly sexual, liberal American idiot and  I can’t blame her. A birthing vagina totally can’t compete with a linguistically challenged one. Despite her negative-nancy attitude, I don’t think that she believed that we’d eventually marry. Rather, I think it bothered her that I believed we would. When the conversation about our wedding arose, I often saw a glimmer of hope in her eyes which meant that she thought she could still deter F,  or at the very least convince him to put the wedding off for another 40 or 50 years. If she said, “Anytime after I die is good! I don’t see the rush…,” I wouldn’t have been surprised. Since we never knew how she would react on any given day, we tried not to talk about it around her if possible. Sometimes she would get only mildly annoyed and pound the dough a little harder than necessary, or sigh loudly while brandishing a wooden spoon at her tomato sauce, but other times she went all out. Other times it was like she was competing in the dramatic Italian Olympics. On these occasions she would scream her guts out and bang pots and wail,  “Dear God why you do dis to-a me-a?”  towards heaven. It was a lot like a movie. It was offensive and hurt my feelings, but more than anything my husband had fully ingested the shame. His mother’s tantrums brought back all of the Catholic guilt that had been ingrained in him as a kid and the words “our wedding” made him visibly uncomfortable the way I assume that confessing to masturbation at 12 did. Even I started to feel naughty at some point but that was less about the wedding talk and more about being physically violated.

Having his mother in Florence, alone, was supposed to be a bonding experience.  “Just try to speak Italian and get to know her,” F  pleaded. He thought that I could actually win her over somehow and then she would magically support us. It was cute. It’s not that I was against building a relationship with her but it was a little hard to open up around someone who begged God to kill you on a regular basis (okay, a slight exaggeration but it felt that way).

Spending time with either of F’s parents gave me severe anxiety back then so I was surprised that the first day was lovely and we actually had fun together, despite the fact that she pulled her eyes taut when she talked about Chinese people and said once or twice that African people need to bathe more than “white” people. But she “wasn’t racist” because it “was a known fact” so it was all good (the fuck?). The three of us had dinner in a cute place and we even giggled together over F’s terrified reaction to a woman breastfeeding in the restaurant. His eyes diverted, face turned a million shades of embarrassment, and then we had to move tables because seeing a stranger’s boob was too much for him, which is funny considering the number of strange boobs that have been near his face in the past. Anyway, things were comfortably awkward for once instead of terrible. The weekend started out nice.

Around 7:00 in the morning I awoke to a small knock on our bedroom door. I covered my naked ass and said, “come in.” F’s mother flung open the door, dove into our laundry basket, and disappeared. It was like watching a cobra strike at a mouse. That’s seriously how stealthy and fast she is when it comes to laundry. I rolled my eyes and fell back asleep immediately because I do not wake before 8:30. When we awoke later I stumbled into the kitchen to find the kitchen spotless, as if it had been cleaned by elves on meth. F’s mom was working diligently in front of an ironing board, her elbow sawing back and forth with so much vigor that her tiny frame shook. “Buongiorno,” I mumbled. At about that time I’d reached the ironing board and I saw what she was so determined to de-wrinkle: One of my super skanky thongs. Next to that thong were about 10 others that had already been strong-armed into paper-like flatness. “What the fuck!? I yelled in English so she couldn’t understand me. She turned around. “Buongiorno. I made coffee.” I half-smiled and switched to Italian, “Thanks, but, uhm, why are you washing and ironing my panties!?” Francesco entered around that time and saw what she was doing. He smiled and headed for the coffee.

“DUDE! YOUR MOM! BOUNDARIES! Anything that touches my vagina and goes up my ass is off-limits to her!”

He turned, “She’s just trying to be nice, babe.”

Which I understood. I read that absolutely ridiculous yet semi-helpful book, The Five Love Languages, and I understood that some people show love with acts of kindness, but I think ironing my thongs crossed a lot of  important boundaries that existed for a reason.  “My lady bits go there. Please, I’m begging you, tell her to not do our laundry!” I turned to her, “You don’t have to do work here. You’re on vacation! Go relax! I’ll take over from here!” But she smacked my hand when I reached for the iron so instead I drank coffee and sulked while I watched her examine my sluttiest undergarments. “She’s not going to like me if she knows that I own black lace thongs with pearls that run up my bum! You’re ruining our chances of a relationship by letting her do this!” I whined. F just shrugged and gave her suggestions on what he wanted to eat for lunch. Mother. Fucker.

We took her for a walk later that day since it was spring and nice out. I stayed silent and bitter while F and his mother chatted about various things. I watched the pigeons shit onto the cobblestone and was enjoying myself, until we took a turn and  stepped onto a street lined with wedding shops. It became a little awkward for everyone since we couldn’t talk about the wedding, yet, was clearly what everyone was thinking. The mom glanced at one store window full of pink and after a few minutes commented on the “adorable” color scheme.  Oh. Hell. No. When we passed a wedding dress shop with a window packed full of gag-inducing puffy cotton-ball-type gowns, I decided to go ahead and against my better judgment I expressed how much I hated them.

“Me no like it big dresses like that,” I said to Francesco.

“Me either,” the mom answered.

“I do!”, beamed Francesco, who for reasons I cannot understand is obsessed with me in the girliest most over-the-top shit ever. The man has bought me three or four “Jackie O”-type dresses in the last four years with matching Jackie O shoes that I never wear because I’m not classy and I’m not fifty. Due to his love of all things feminine, it wasn’t surprising that he loved the idea of me crashing down the runway in something that should be lit on fire instead of worn.

“You need this covered to here.” His mother said. She motioned like she was slitting her own throat.

“I need a dress that goes up to my chin?” I asked.

“Yes. Because you can’t wear strapless.”

“I want a strapless dress.”

“No. No, no, no! It will be ugly on you.” She scrunched up her entire body and shook her head to get the traumatic image out of her mind.

“Why? Because I have a tattoo?”

“No. Not for that. Oh God! Honestly I don’t know WHAT we’ll do with you. I mean, what can we do!? JUST LOOK AT THIS!”

She lunged forward and grabbed hold of my boobs faster than a frat boy after a kegger. I pushed her hands down slowly.

“Why are you groping me?”

“Don’t do that,” F mumbled to her.

“Why? I say the truth! Look at them! Disgrace!” She pointed to them and hoped that my husband would agree with her.

“Her boobs are fine, mom.” F exhaled a sound that can only be described as half exasperated and half, “I was raised super religious so let’s never talk about boobs with my mom again.”

“FINE!?” She grabbed them again getting a handful. “Look at these! I don’t know. I DON’T KNOW! We have to feed her! She need-a eat-da-a-more- a pasta! She need a eat a more! If she eat more dey get more big!”

I turned to passively pop my boobs out of her grip again. “Listen, even if I gained thirty pounds these are not going to change. They never change. I have gained weight before and these were the same. Always the same.” I gestured back and forth between the two. “SAAAAME.”

She waved her hands in the air like she was fanning an imaginary insect away, “Don’t ask me then. I don’t know. You’re going to look terrible in a wedding dress. You need bigger…Sigh. Don’t ask me.” Then she moved to walk a bit faster than us.

“Is she being serious?” I asked F.

“Yes. She’s crazy. Just ignore her.” He shook his head disapprovingly.

“What’s wrong with my boobs! I LIKE MY BOOBS! I think they’re a fine! Are they really that bad? Do you hate them!?”

“WHAT!? NO! I love your boobs! Fuck! I’m going to kill her. Now you’re going to panic about your boobs for weeks. Great!”

“She just told me I was going to look terrible in a wedding dress because she hates my boobs!”

I’ve always been “weird” in the boob department. I don’t have big boobs and I’ve never wanted them either.  It had never occurred to me until that moment that anyone would ever want me to have different boobs. They are not pancake small but they’re not big enough to notice, but unclothed I liked them. I liked them a lot, actually. When I was a kid I used my breasts to gauge if other girls were deformed. “My God, Jessica! Your boobs have pink nipples! You should get that checked out!” Apparently blogging wasn’t my first stint in narcissism.

I tried not to let it bother me at all but it occurred to me that most Italian women have large boobs. Holy shit! I was probably the first person that F had ever been with that didn’t have huge boobs. Dammit! I pushed it out of my mind for a while until I couldn’t anymore because grabbing my boobs in public to point out how NOT HUGE they were soon became her favorite past-time….

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Things That I’m Doing When I’m Not Here:

The New Years Revolution 

House Of Ossimori 

33 thoughts on “Living In Italy: “Your Boobs Suck,” And Other Lessons I Learned From My Mother-In-Law

  1. “She lunged forward and grabbed hold of my boobs faster than a frat boy after a kegger.” I’ve had that experience with older women! My friend’s grandma once grabbed my boobs and was all, “I just had to know if they were real! And they are! How lovely!” (I’m a B/C, of COURSE they’re real!) Had it been a guy, I would have punched him in the face without impunity, but instead it’s my friend’s freaking grandmother and I was just standing there looking shell shocked.

    Ahhh memories…

    • WOW! haha! Grandmothers totally take advantage of how old they are. Mine used to scream, “GET OUT OF THE SLOW LANE CUNT!” Because she knew that nobody would kick her ass at 80 years old.

      • Love it! Seriously, I look forward to being an old lady. My great grandmother was the only person I liked on my mom’s side. On her 75th birthday, someone told her to give a speech and she was all drunk on whiskey and yelled from her chair (this is how I type a thick Irish accent), “Oh fook off ye awl pisshead! I’m not talking. If Gad’s goonna joodge me, he can do it on me first 75 years. Nae gimme back me bottle.”

        She started doing shit like faking senility if she didn’t like you so that she could say any mean thing she wanted with complete impunity. For some reason I was always her favorite, maybe because I was the oldest great-grandchild and could always be counted upon to go fetch her a bottle of booze or plates full of desserts she no one else would let her have, so she used to tell me all the shit she did. My favorite was when she started watering her front lawn naked in the middle of the day. I thought she was doing it because it was hilarious, but she said that it was because they always sent “those nice looking fellas” from the fire department to get her back inside. Following in those footsteps has kind of been a goal ever since!

      • She was totally rad! I’m in no rush to be 80, but some days I really look forward to watering the lawn naked with saggy boobs and old lady bush.

  2. Oh god, I hardly even know what to say! I went from laughing, to eye-popping, to laughing, to eye-popping! I can’t believe she grabbed your boobs! (Sort of snorted laughing as I typed that so sorry about that!) Small but perfectly-formed boobs are way better – at least they won’t end up around (y)our knees 😉 Win! Tell Francesco how bloody lucky he is again by the way!!

    • That’s exactly what I think! Plus, I really hate bras. I REALLY HATE THEM. I’m lucky enough that I can get away without wearing one because my boobs aren’t super heavy. I’ll tell him now but mostly I’m going to take a picture of this comment and message it to him.

  3. I went into Intimissimi , a few of them and none could find me a bra. All they had were support bras for broad shape women with my bust size. A sales clerk told me my size is rare , she would have to special order for me. Most bras there are heavily padded, which I cannot bother with and all were for very petite women like you. My friends (male) all say boobs on a slim girl is rare, it’s usually padding when it’s time for some action.

  4. So. Funny. I wish I could say I was more shoked then I actually am, but I know the southern Italian Mamma all to well. I always make sure to bring my largest, most unsexy panties with me anytime we visit to avoid the entire town knowing that l’america is in town with the thongs waving in the breeze on the clothesline, in the front of the house, with the balcony that faces the main sqaure in the tiny little town. And I am constantly getting scolded about not having my husbands shirts ironed and hanging nicely in the closet. I can’t say that my breasts have ever been fondled in public, but my ass has certainly been in my MIL’s hand to let me know how big it is! Becuase one would only know that by feeling it for themselves of course and its important to point these things out.

  5. You make me thank heavens for my mother in law (or, perhaps for the fact that I really don’t speak enough Italian to know what she is saying to me anyway. ). PS: I LOVE the fact that the woman comes over and cleans my house and does my laundry. (And that her son has decided that I suck at laundry…. so he does it. Seriously, I haven’t had to do my own laundry in 4 years! Yeah!!!!)

  6. You are hysterical! So glad I found your blog. OK, let’s talk boobs. I used to have size-appropriate boobs until I hit my 40’s and gained more than 30 pounds. When I mentioned this to a friend her husband said “Wow 15 pounds each!” So I’m sure La Mamma will one day be satisfied. 🙂

    Now that I’m fast approaching 60 (just a few days after you… btw, Happy 30th Birthday) I’d like those average boobs back!

    • hahahahaha. Love it! I do love my small boobs but it’s definitely odd for Italy. My husband also comes from a family of really “chesty” women which doesn’t help their expectations. I’ve gained a good amount of weight before (college 30) and my boobs stayed right where they are now. My ass was HUGE though.

  7. P.S. I just realized I mixed you up with “Married To Italy” blogger. Your blog is great, I just thought your birthday was tomorrow. And I don’t mean to make you older than you are either! Happy Birthday whenever it is. 🙂

    • The story is much longer than this and it actually got even weirder, if you can believe it. I didn’t put the whole story in because I’m writing a book on my time in Italy and I wanted to hold on to a few things for the book. I really never thought I would have a problem with an old woman groping my boobs. Italy brought me all kinds of surprises. lol

  8. Hahaha! I’ve had a Chinese massage therapist tell me that my boobs are almost non-existent, but your MIL making that ovservation definitely beats the massage therapist. I’m so glad I don’t have problems with my non-existent boobs.

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  12. Oh my goodness, your story is hysterical! You should be a writer because this is the first thing that I have read in years that has had me down right laughing my ass off! Good luck that futur mother-in-law, you should walk around the house in your bra just to make her day!

  13. Hi, I’ve only just discovered your blog. I just thought “damn I love this chick and I don’t even know her” lmao. Your language is perfect, this seriously seems like some shit I’d write. Keep up the awesome work up!

    Also, I’m moving to Italy soon, your post about moving is very inspiring. Thanks a lot!

  14. This was funny (and appalling what your mother-in-law did); however, I have to say I rarely see women here with large breasts (or thighs). I hate going to try on bras here because they think I am a C or D when they look at me even thought I tell them I am an F or G. When they realize this is the case, I get told with a half smile, they don’t make bras to fit me in Italy. I, like you, love my boobs (now); however, they didn’t get huge till I was in my late teens early 20s…then I was embarrassed by them. I also find it fascinating you husband was embarrassed by a woman breast feeding here when I see women do it all the time. In the US they ostracize women and shame them for breast feeding in public, here I have found they embrace it.

    When will you release your book? I’d love to read it!

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