Take Me To Church(es)

, , , , | Right | April 13, 2018

(Italy is famous for its churches. You can find a church in every square, in old towns there’s almost one in every street, and all of them are famous for something — paintings, statues, tombs, etc. Two girls come into my office and ask me:)

Girls: “Where is the church?”

Me: “Um… Which one are you looking for?”

Girls: “The famous one.”

Me: “We have one in front of us, one next to us, and one at the end of the street; choose one!”

Girls: “Okay, thank you!”

Talking Turkey But Not Talking Turkish

, , , | Working | April 3, 2018

(There are four people in my office. [Coworker #1] spent more than a month in Turkey on a work assignment and has just returned. He brought a couple of flannel rags, of the kind you get in gas stations, brightly printed with company logos and advertisements in Turkish. [Coworker #2], famous for not always being in the loop, notices the rags while [Coworker #1] is out on errands.)

Coworker #2: “What’s written on these things?”

Me: “I don’t know; I don’t speak Turkish.”

Coworker #2: *looking at me like I said something funny* “Then how do you know it’s Turkish?”

Me: *unsure if he’s having me on* “Um, because that’s what they speak in Turkey. “

Coworker #2: “Why? Has anybody been to Turkey?”

My New Grand-Mama Mia!

, , , , , | Hopeless | April 1, 2018

(It is the late 90s, and I am 12 years old. I get to go on a ten-day trip to Italy with my family and five other families. It is planned through a travel agency, so we are already signed up to see and do certain things. The day arrives when we reach Venice by bus, and I am not feeling well at all. It turns out, I’ve gotten food poisoning from the rest stop we ate breakfast at this morning. I am the only one who ate a particular bad food item, and therefore am the only one who is sick. My parents are pretty upset, because getting on a gondola is out of the question for me, and it’s something we’ve all been looking forward to. I am already nauseated enough on dry land. They are discussing which one of them will stay with me while the rest of our group goes on the gondolas, or if they could possibly switch off at some point, when our tour guide comes over with an older Italian lady.)

Tour Guide: “Good news! You can both go on the gondola ride. My friend here will stay with your daughter.”

Mom: “Oh! Thank you, but we don’t want to impose. I can stay with [My Name].”

Tour Guide: “No, no, no! You must experience the gondola! [My Name] can stay here with [Lady]. She owns a restaurant near where we will dock later.”

(After talking it out for a few minutes, and after our tour guide assures them again she’s known the lady for a long time, my parents agree to meet me at the restaurant after the gondola ride. So, the tour guide walks the lady and I back to her little restaurant on the water. I am so sick to my stomach that I nearly throw up again before we reach it. The tour guide leaves, and the lady ushers me inside the restaurant. Inside, the lady says something in rapid Italian. I know only a few words, and am so nauseated all I can do is stare at her and try to not throw up on her shoes. The lady clucks her tongue at me and guides me to a little back room with an attached bathroom. She tells everyone we pass something about me in Italian. I assume she is informing everyone of my plight, but who knows. I also think random people keep calling me bebe, which I assume means “baby.” I’m sure I look pretty miserable. I spend the afternoon alternating between running to the bathroom and huddling on a tiny couch in that room. The lady checks on me every so often, bringing me some kind of broth and water to drink. By the time my parents come back with the tour guide, I feel better enough to make it to our hotel. They are very grateful to the lady for looking after me, and we even go to eat at her restaurant before we leave Venice, when I am able to eat again. Back home from our trip, a friend is asking me for details about everything we saw in Italy.)

Friend: “Oh! Did you go on one of those little boat things in Venice? Did the driver sing that song they always sing in the movies?”

Me: “Uh… No. My mom and dad got to go, but I was sick.”

Friend: “Aw, really? You didn’t get to go at all?”

Me: “No, but I became very well-acquainted with a Venetian bathroom. I also think I have an Italian grandma, now.”

(Thank you again, kind Italian lady, for watching a sick kid who couldn’t understand a word you were saying!)

Sitting For England

, , , , | Friendly | March 28, 2018

(My family and I are taking a ferry between two islands in Venice. It is now late afternoon, and we have been on our feet non-stop since eight this morning. We manage to get seats on the ferry, which ends up pretty crowded with several people standing. I notice a middle-aged group standing near us, and I have just decided to offer my seat to one of them after I’ve rested for a few more minutes, when one of them bends down and leans in front of me and my little sister to talk to the person sitting next to her.)

Woman: *loudly* “You know, if we were in England, I’m sure someone would have given up their seat by now.”

(I then decided that my butt and that seat were best friends and could not possibly be parted, and they enjoyed a close, personal relationship for the rest of that ferry ride.)

Unless You’re Dying, It’s Not Worth My Time

, , , , | Related | March 16, 2018

(My grandmother is a stern, no-nonsense matriarch with some rather peculiar ideas about health, from growing up in a time when castor oil was the only medicine available. I’ve dislocated my ankle the day before and I haven’t had any treatment for it. As I limp downstairs for breakfast, I feel in terrible pain and as if I’m about to throw up. I try and make it to the bathroom, but I fall in a dead faint halfway there. My mother later tells me she heard the thud from the cellar. When I come back to my senses, I’m white as a sheet, lying spread eagle on the corridor floor, and my parents are kneeling at either side with eyes as wide as dinner plates. My grandmother comes out of her bedroom and sees the scene…)

Grandmother: “What’s going on? [My Name], are you running a fever?”

Me: *still out of it, and it shows* “No… I don’t think…”

Grandmother: “Oh. That’s good.”

(And she literally walks over me on her way to the kitchen!)

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