There are certain consequences that go along with being Italian.
Some consequences are good:
- You've got great skin. After the acne clears up;
- If you've taken it easy on the cannoli, you have the ass of a goddess;
- And if you're smart, then you learned how to cook from your mother. So no man in his right mind will ever leave your lasagna for some skinny blonde.
Some consequences are bad:
- You are incapable of responding calmly to stressful situations. Any stressful situation. Just forget about it.
This is genetic and not your fault. In Italy, Italians drink wine to calm down. In Italy, where we belong, you can have wine for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In fact, it's encouraged, because it keeps the taxes down. Emergency response teams are expensive.
Americans, though, tend to be fussy about day-drinking. I think it's the whole car culture thing, which needs to go away for a lot of reasons, but probably won't. Too bad. Americans should remember the '80s and their three-martini lunches. People were happy. They thought they were happy because Ronald Reagan was president, but it was the martinis, believe me.
Italian-Americans usually deal with wine-deprivation by consuming mass quantities of coffee, which only makes them more difficult. Then they get a rep for being excitable, taking offense at every little thing, and having hair-trigger tempers. I won't argue that, but what do you expect when you take away the wine?
I wish I'd had a gallon of the stuff the other day.
I'm Sicilian, so it's much worse. People think of us as being silent, stony-faced types (2500 years of foreign occupation will do that to you), but - trust me - beneath that exterior, we're boiling. In fact, I'd say the stonier we get, the more you've got to worry about. As long as we're yelling, you're okay, but remember Al Pacino in "The Godfather"? The way he got right before he smacked Diane Keaton? She was pushing every button he had, while he just stared at her blankly. Then, all of a suddenly, he started to shake, and wham!
, right in the face. And that wasn't
all acting, I'm telling you, given her performance. Mt. Etna
I have this summer job as a "host" to visiting tourists and one of my "host" jobs is to get people to be nice and stand in line. It's not easy. As soon as you tell people to form a line they go brain dead. And act like you want them to walk over a cliff. Well, the other day, I had finally gotten my line in order and talked down the psychotics, when this little boy in a wheel chair showed up with his family. I took a few minutes to get them situated (he was a legitimate priority, am I right?) and when I got back, the line had disintegrated into a mob.
Led by an English guy, I think, by the accent. Or maybe Australian, which is easier to make fun of.
So he started hollering at me about how I didn't explain things properly (it's a freaking line, you idiot, only two goddam dimensions for you to figure out). And then some other tourists got in on it, acting like big unswaddled babies, and then the whole crowd started pushing like they were going to miss the last game of the World Cup Finals if they didn't start a stampede.
I had, like, two seconds to make a decision. And my decision was to let the most hysterical morons go first. Which, obviously, made everyone else unhappy (damn those little boys in wheelchairs), but probably saved their lives. And mine.
I'm not proud of that decision.
I tried to stay calm. I really did. I might have looked calm, even though my brain was congealing like eggs in a frittata. But I could feel the steam trying to escape through my ears. And the crowd got real quiet. Probably because they started noticing my resemblance to Al Pacino.
Later on, I got to thinking. Woulda. Shoulda. Coulda. Had my brain been functioning:
- I woulda alternated between the normal line and the one with the gaguzz' headed up by Crocodile Dundee. You go, they go, you go, they go. Fair enough? No. But this was a lose-lose deal;
- I shoulda smiled sweetly and said, "Let me call my manager." Then he would have had to wait, and he still would've been last in line. Fair enough? Absolutely;
- I coulda said, "Hey! Man from Snowy River! Get outta my face. You don't like it, take it up with my boss. Or you and me can settle it later, outside. Your choice." I like this option. A lot.
Of course, a real Sicilian would have followed the guy back to his hotel and bribed a bellhop to put Super Glue in his shoes.