A Typical Day in Irsina, Italy

This is a true story.

The day after you admit that archaeology is not for you, you will wake up refreshed.  That’s because you have slept until 9:55AM.  Your first instinct is to feel guilty, because your fearless leader and the love of your life had to be out the door by 6:20AM.  You were awake for this, to see him off and lock the door as he left.  You are currently sharing one set of keys.  Anyways, you may honor this guilt for a total of 5 minutes out of respect.  After that, you are just being silly, because nothing is open before 10:00AM, ya dyngus!

Today, you must face your fear of grocery shopping, which you have for the following reasons:

  • Grocery shopping requires communicating with the locals.  You are terrible at this.
  • Grocery shopping actually entails visiting not one shop, but several, all of whom make their own hours.  These shops include: the bakery (which you have not once seen open,) the produce stand, the deli, the butcher, and potentially, the pharmacy.  Then, there is the main grocery store (cleverly named either “Despar,” “Crai,” or “Supermercato.”)  You will choose the one that least signifies depression.
  • Grocery shopping requires leaving the old piazza in town, and walking uphill, past herds of Italian men that don’t seem to have jobs.

This day, you have discovered your secret weapon: the iPod.  You’ve seen people for years wandering down city streets, college campuses and the like with their iPod strapped on, in a world of their own.  You always thought this was risky because it could be considered rude and/or leaves you vulnerable to being rundown by a car, a bike, or a rapist.  Across the ocean, it seems like your best defense against what you cannot understand.  Luckily, you’ve also perfected your unaffected bitch face, which is the ideal companion for an iPod walk.

So far, the walk is going swimmingly.  It’s a hot morning, sun’s a-blazing, and you’ve made several stops without making a total fool of yourself.  People seem to get that you are cool and respectable, or at least, you can’t hear the 9-year old on a bike call out “BOMBA!! as you saunter past.  ‘American Woman’ (Guess Who version, of course) comes on.  Basically, you realize your gym fantasy has at that moment come true:

Walking cooly down the street, the wind is blowing your hair Beyonce style, every single person on the street stops to look at how fabulous you are, and you are an American Woman.  Unattainable.  Awe-inspiring.

BAM!  You fall smack on your ass.  It hurt, too.  One thing you must know about walking Italy: flip flops are a danger to yourself, and others.  The smooth marble streets are a lawsuit waiting to happen, except in Italy, it’s your own fault.  Two sweet Italian ladies rush over to assist you (more help than you received in the parking lot of Meijer’s when your cart flipped over.)  You are embarrassed, but are able to stutter a “gratzie,” as they help you up.  Immediately, they see you are a flustered out-of-towner and ask if you are American.  On the spot, you muster up the 3 sentences you’ve been working on for 2 weeks.  “My husband is an archaeologist.”  “I am American.”  “It’s hot outside.”  Thankfully, one takes pity and confesses to knowing English.  They are fascinated by the exotic nature of your stay in Irsina and graciously shake your hand, saying “Ciao, Bella!”  You’re back.  They leave you to dust your ass off and continue the walk home.  The next song on your iPod is, “It’s Tricky (Run DMC).”  End of fantasy.


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