My Italian is improving by the day. Last night the waiter at the hotel restaurant recognized me, and as a way of forcing me to use my meager knowledge, he refused to speak to me in English. The result was one of the funniest conversations I’ve ever had:

Him: “pewpkwpkelnlk acpoijaklnd oli?” (This is what it sounds like when you no speak-a de language)
Me: “Uhhhhhhh, non capisco.” (I don’t understand.)
Him: “Gnoenfi sknwieiro aknsi kidi?”
Me: “Va bene.” (That’s fine.)
Him (sighing): “T’s ewifnl la sklnf e FOOD?”
Me (understanding): “Si. Food. Si.”

So I pick out the sea bass, remembering the fiasco from the previous night with the Monalicious meat (as I will now call it). I figured there’s no way to mess that up, right?

(How often have I been correct on this trip? I bet you can count the times on no fingers.)

When my food arrived, the waiter removed the silver dome with a flourish, and I beheld before me a very confusing sight. I ordered sea bass, and I got sea bass. All of it. Head and tail included. With the skin still on it. Mouth all open and shit. Had it not been steaming, I would’ve assumed it had been just caught mere minutes prior to its presentation at my table. Sensing my confusion, the waiter offered me…something.

Him: “Frtklnfo akln etlkjnldi?”
Me: “Uhhhhhhh….”
Him (slower): “Frtklnfo…akln…etlkjnldi?”
Me: “Um…si. Va bene.”

He started looking at me funny. With his fork and knife, he pointed very hard to the fish, then to me, then back to the fish, then to himself. That bastard wanted my sea bass! No way was I sharing my fish with him, Italian custom or not! He was being mean to me.

Me (firmly): “No.”
Him (sighing): “Do you want ME to de-bone your fish, or do YOU want to do it?”
Me (totally embarrassed): “Oh. Um, you. You, per favore (please).”

My use of Italian underwhelmed him. However, after the meal (which was great) and dessert, he came over and said that for someone who has only been here a few days, my Italian was actually pretty good, and that after a month I’d probably be pretty close to functional. You’ll see how far away from functional I really am in my next entry, which may not occur until after my return to the US. Here are some teasers:

  • I ran out of money
  • “Instant” wire transfers take up to 5 days
  • I got lost
  • I got drunk
  • I got addicted to coffee
  • I’m losing my ability to understand English, and my dreams are in Italian

So stay tuned. I’m changing hotels today, and I’ve got to get up at dawn-thirty to catch my flight in the morning, so you’ll have to sit tight. In addition to the stuff I just mentioned, I’m sure I’ll have some funny regarding my trip to Milan tonight with a guy from work, going to the airport, changing planes in Paris, and other stuff. Take care, and ci vediamo (stay in touch).