My photo
Success, Failure...some of my greatest failures have been a springboard to my greatest successes...the terms are truly fluid.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

17 Out of My Shell for a Card Game

    I felt very frustrated with my computer connection at the Bar since it was so slow today. I must have been wearing the face of a bored or annoyed person since a kind face I recognized from other days at the Bar smiled at me and offered to buy me a gelato.

     I spend the bulk of my days at the Bar now loading pictures or posts or emailing family. I really need to set up a regular appointment to be able to do Skype calls and see how everyone is doing. The time difference and only small chunks of access to the internet have made that virtually impossible.

     I ache to know how my son and his freshly asked fiancée are doing….or how my daughter likes her new home she just moved in to when I left, but I am here to learn Italian and immerse myself in Italian culture. Because this time is so limited, I find it really hard to not be responsive when someone wants to talk to me. Let’s face it, I desperately want to talk to them too. They are amazingly interesting people. This causes me to sound clipped and short in conversations with family since they don’t realize I am in a busy Bar and many things happen at once while we are there. This probably make me look like an insensitive jerk back home but if they were here they would totally understand. Maybe they understand anyway.

     The people of this town number between 350 and 500 according to the locals. They are the most fascinating group of really interesting and fun people you could imagine. I feel kind of like I have been dropped into a Northern Exposure season with an Italian twist. As if I had somehow crossed into an imaginary world that could not have been written to be any more different from my own but which also has many things that are the same.

     Like the flowers and bushes here. Scotch Broom is the yellow flower I know when I look out the window of the bus. They are still in bloom here but in California they are all probably dead. In Wales Miss Kimberley said were called “Gorse” I think. And here they are Genesta something. I think they are just as fragrant everywhere. Spencer and I have been startled by how much is the same and how much is different. We spent 20 minutes trying to figure out a strange and beautiful bird yesterday.

    Now to get back to the kind, probably happily married man from the beginning of this post. He was offering to get me a gelato and I did what I always do here, I explained in slow Italian that I am trying to contact my family back home in California.

     He kindly went back to his card game with his quiet friend.

      It was at that moment that my computer died again due to the radical differences in electrical current here. Spencer was downstairs playing with the girls where they let the kids get louder and wilder then upstairs.

     I realized I was sunbathing and not jumping in the water. It was time to jump in. I adjusted my glasses and grabbed a chair and joined the guys playing cards. They were clean cut, local  guys, well behaved and safe feeling. I had to stop being the shy awkward girl. That is not who I am at home, most of the time so why was I using language to allow me to be distant from people who were all so fascinating. Besides I have not had any alcohol for a few days and I have a lot of trustworthy friends who can keep me away from Brutti. Francesca will know their whole family history like I would in Sonora, California of any name that rolls across my path.

     The two men had cool Italian names that I don’t remember. When I later wrote my notes I labeled them as “Calm” and “Lotsa Words.”

    They were both extremely patient as I asked the inevitable stupid questions. I am reminded of my Ex’s patience as I hounded him about poker and forget everything every few minutes.

     Not one card looked familiar. I saw no girly looking “queens” or masculine kings but there was a guy with a horse with each of the crazy looking suits. What was this deck of cards? There were no diamonds, hearts, spades or clubs. I can read Tarot cards and these were like them but still way different for me.

     They explained everything to me in Italian. They were adding up the cards looking for combinations of 15. I was so embarrassingly lost it wasn’t funny. They were so Italian though. They were friendly, confident and willing to share what they know in a heartbeat. These people are proud by nature and ready to share their culture at every chance. They are patient with their children here in the same fashion. I can gain a lot by being in their presence personally as well as culturally.

     Back to the guys. They were my age and obviously easy going. They kept playing and explaining and I built up a bit of confidence even though I must have looked strange to not even recognize a simple deck of cards.

     I finally got up the nerve to ask about the suit with green asparagus on it. My thinking was that asparagus ends in “–us” and I kind of figure that here anything ending in “-us” must have a Latin root and be Italian already. I felt kind of confident about that question.

     They both looked at each other and burst out laughing.


      “Lotsa Words” was so tickled he told my friends behind the counter in rapid speech what I had said. They all burst out laughing. It was a good natured laugh and I did not feel stupid or anything. I didn’t whither.

     Then “Lotsa Words” carefully walked me through the deck. He assigned every card a number and a name. The four suits here are spada (swords), coppa (cups), dinari (coins), and bastoni (clubs). It was the wooden clubs that I had mistaken for asparagus. They were small green sticks…you would have too…

     My friend Carla taught me how to buy the cards when I get to town. I have to go to a Tabacchi shop and ask, “Per favore, vorrei un mazzo di carte napolitane!”

     What a great time I had at the Bar tonight and I don’t feel bad that I could not connect with family.  I took a leap of faith and was rewarded with yet another interesting moment in a sea of fascinating moments here in Italy. It sure pays to jump out of my comfort zone!



No comments:

Post a Comment