I learned to speak Italian last night. In a very nice Italian Ristorante. In a secret room. The one where the bella signoras pee or powder their nose. Why? When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, l’ll tell you why! My little boy had to poop.
Here’s the thing. He’s at that in-between age. He can usually go to the men’s room by himself once I’ve sufficiently swept the area for strangers of unknown origin or intent. I’m just a mama bear in that regard. But from time to time, nature calls in its purest form.
This time my son informed me the nanosecond my steaming plate of pasta arrived, that he had to go to the bathroom–bad.
“Come with me!” Uh-oh. I know what this means. This is code language for I better bring some reading material. I grab my phone just in case. I can play on Facebook or perhaps catch an article or two from the Times online.
I do what any protective mother does for her boy of the awkward age between being able to wipe one self, but with neither of us comfortable for him to be alone in a man’s den to do one’s business. I took him with me—to the Signora’s gabinetto.
He went to the potty. I went to the potty. He started to bolt. I grabbed him with my Go-Go Gadget arm that can span the entire width of a gabinetto.
“Not so fast buddy! The hands?!?!?” I ask incredulously.
“Oh yeah!” He cycles the water on, then off, faster than a camera’s shutter speed in Sports Mode. Al Gore would be moved if he could witness this moment.
“Hold it! LONGER! With soap this time!”
Kids intrinsically know that payback always deserves to be hell. So after a good five minutes of soaping, lathering, and going through yards of paper towels, he finishes.
“Great! Let’s go!” I’m almost out the door when he informs me, “Wait a minute. I’m NOT finished.”
Terrific. “I’ll wait by the sink then.”
I wait. And wait. And wait. I read the label on the designer soap. Wash Responsibly it says. I ponder this for a few more minutes. I’m trying to recall if I’ve ever been an irresponsible washer. They must know piccoli uomini (little men) come in here sometimes.
“No. Not yet.”
That’s when it happens. The gabinetto is eerily silent. I am suddenly, but pleasantly aware that the Frank Sinatra songs in the Ristorante are not the same soundtrack playing here. But I don’t mourn Old Blue Eye’s auditory absence for long.
No! That’s because it’s better in here. Way better!
Why if you stay long enough, you can learn to parlare Italiano! Fantastico!
Buon giorno maam! Good day maam! (A scoundrel’s voice. I wouldn’t trust this guy as far as I could throw him!)
Sembri molto bella! (Yah! Not too shabby considering I’m pushing fifty and I’m fairly exhausted right this moment I think. But grazie!)
Grazie! I hear a sultry voice with a hint of mischief reply above the automatic air-freshener dispenser.
Che cosa dovremmo fare per cena? (What should we have for dinner?) The scoundrel speaks yet again.
How about my PENNE PASTA that is getting cold as I stand here? I think to myself.
With some oray-gino? (Oregeno. It’s actually spelled like we spell it, but this is how people endowed with romantic tongue say it. Don’t forget to r-r-r-oll the “r” in your pronunciation with heavy accent on the second syllable!)
I’m kind of getting into this now. I mentally chastise myself for not bringing my glass of Vino with me.
Ho una macchina veloce sportiva! (I have a fast sports car!) A vision of a former boss let go for sexual harassment comes to mind.
The woman on the sound track chuckles daintily and seductively.
Volete vederlo? (Would you like to see it?) The womanizer speaks again. Clearly she gets in his car.
Tieni d’occhio la strada! She says this as she laughs. (Keep your eye on the road!)
Hey wait a minute I think; we’re about to move into a PG-13 bathroom experience!
More conversation ensues. I am learning more foreign words during these momenti di cacca than I ever learned in an entire year of Spanish class in both high school and college. I’m actually paying attention. I’m having my Rosetta Stone moment all because my son had to poop!
At this point, I am gaining both confidence and fluency. I check in with the poopster to get a status report.
“Almost done!” Almost, because I have to wait another seven minutes for the wipe process to be carried out. I hear the pump-a-dump-dump of the toilet paper roll as the cardboard cylinder hangs up on its apparent four corners. So I know something is happening in there.
More pulling of paper. More flushing. I’m relieved that Sheryl Crow did not succeed at getting a one square only mandate passed for us non-famous peasants in order to avoid disastrous climate change. If we blow up the world from too much cacca, than perhaps we deserve it.
Finally the deed is done. It is finished. The Evocatore of Hot-Turned-Chilled Expensive Dinners emerges.
But this time I had held my cool. I was patient. Understanding even.
Why? Because now I’m part Italian.
OK, I know I didn’t learn enough to impress my friends as the narrator promised I would. As if my bathroom experience could possibly linger even one more stinkin’ moment! But I think I learned enough that I could at least manage a few basic tasks if given the opportunity to travel to Italy someday.
I can hail a taxi. Taxi! (Pronounced Tock-see!)
I can handle the check at the restaurant. Si prega di dare i miei saluti e il mio check al signore al bar. (Please give my regards and my check to the gentleman at the bar.)
I can talk my way out of an emergency. Taxi!
When we walked out of the bathroom, some of the restaurant staff were waiting. “We were SO WORRIED about you. Your party said you disappeared!”
“Nope. IT happens. We’re fine,” I assured them, “but grazie!”
I returned to my cold dinner more excited than when I left. Now all I have to is find a sponsorizzare for my impending trip to Italy! I smiled.
“Cameriere!” I snapped my fingers. “Altro vino favore!“
Pour yourself some vino to go with that canolli and enjoy this classic: