Wednesday, April 28, 2010


I stopped at the grocery store on my way home from work yesterday, because I was out of pita bread. In the checkout line, I heard the guy behind me speaking a foreign language that had some soft sounds in it but that I didn't recognize. So I asked him (very nicely and with an "Excuse me" at the beginning) what language that was.

He said it was Italian.

Instantly, my brain did what it always does in such a situation: it searched through the Foreign Language Storage Unit (FLSU), grabbed the first words it found in the given language, and shoved them out of my mouth. I said, "Mangia! Mangia! (pause) Basta! Basta!" Which means, "Eat! Eat! (pause) Enough! Enough!"

We chatted a bit (the couple in front of me had WIC vouchers, which takes a while). He and his wife are just visiting right now, but they love it and plan to move here soon. I told him that was great, that we like people from other places, and he seemed happy to hear that (his wife was quiet, maybe shy or else she doesn't speak much English).

They're from "Roma," where I've never been. I told him that Italians are openly mean to bicyclists, and he agreed that Italians are aggressive drivers. (Hmm, he ought to fit in pretty well driving in Southern California.)

Then I told him that on one vacation, I had been seated at a table with my then-husband and six Italians one time, and for chit-chat, I asked the English speaker what part of Italy they were from, and he said, "Bologna." I asked him, "If we were to visit Bologna, what should we see?"

The man started to tell me, "Oh, you don't want to come to Bologna," and the others in the group agreed. But then one guy said, "Tortellini." And the others agreed that if we come to Bologna, we need to eat the tortellini.

(Back to the grocery store now.) So when I told the Italian man this story, he said that yes, I must have the tortellini in Bologna. And I should see the Donkey Tower. And then it was my turn to get rung up.

What a great trip to the grocery store. I love talking to strangers!

1 comment:

Tsofah said...


It IS a nice surprise to exchange ideas and cultural perspectives, isn't it?

And here I thought you were going to say you found a non-fat bologna that was also kosher.

Sigh. I dream big.