More observations. I’m an observant bastard. The biggest one is that I hate hate hate eating alone, which I’ve done 4 times out of 6 so far. But that’s neither interesting nor funny, so away it goes.

Observation #1: The official public language here is “graffiti”.
As I rode in my taxi today from the hotel to work, I got a glimpse of the city of Monza. For everyone who believes that Italy is beautiful beyond all comparison, please let me be the lead weight that pulls you down to earth. Italy is just like any other place, only with more olives. That’s not to say that it isn’t beautiful – I simply mean that it’s a country with people of all types, and that it’s not Nirvana, Xanadu, Heaven, or Helena, Montana. What makes Monza unusual is the sheer amount of graffiti present on every available surface of nearly every building. New York taggers would orgasm at the sight of some of this artwork. Now, I’m not 100% anti-graffiti. I’ve never done it, and for the most part I think it’s ugly and it defaces the property that it infects, but there’s some really gorgeous street art out there too, and that art often improves the area. This is not that kind of art. This is straight-up gangsterish tagging, the kind you find in Thugville. The entertaining thing is that some of it is in English, and it ain’t the type of English you’d say to your mama (unless your mama’s name is George Carlin). I can’t imagine what the Italian graffiti says.

Observation #2: Speaking of speaking…
I don’t speak Italian, so obviously my preferred method of communication is prayer. I pray that the person I’m talking to speaks English. I do know two very important phrases: “Non parlo l’italiano” (I don’t speak Italian), and “Accettate carte di credito?” (Do you take credit cards). I have to be very careful to whom I say which phrase, though. If I say the second phrase to a woman, I might get my ass whipped. Either figuratively or literally. This morning, at least, a nice South African woman was eating at the table next to mine in the hotel restaurant. She looked at me once, then twice, and finally said “Are you American?” I can say honestly that I’ve never been asked that before, and I was somewhat taken aback. I told her yes, and she immediately gushed “Thank GOD – someone who speaks English!” We had a brief conversation wherein she told me she hadn’t spoken English in two days, and then she went off to buy Italian shoes while I paid an unseemly amount of money to take a taxi to work. Luckily most of my colleagues here speak English passably well, so I’m able to carry on some semblance of conversation when I’m at work, except for Monday night, when I attempted to make the receptionist understand that I wanted a taxi to take me home. The Italian word for taxi? “Taxi”. And she still didn’t get it.

Observation #3: Italian television is…interesting.
I don’t understand it, but it’s fun to watch. There’s usually a man in a suit, speaking very rapidly, and he’s often surrounded by nubile young women wearing thongs and bikinis while gyrating. It’s kinda like “The Man Show”, only better since I don’t have to listen to the men prattle on about dumb shit. Other elements of Italian TV include American movies and TV shows dubbed into Italian. These are fun to watch. I watched “Desperate Housewives” and “Sex and the City” last night in Italian, and they were infinitely more entertaining than in English, especially when Donnatella got soap in her eye. There’s no Donnatella in either show, you say? Well then, something got screwed up in translation.

The bidet asked me for my phone number. I threatened it with bodily harm.

Peace.

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