Laughs in Rome

Today in Rome I was chatting with the bellhop at the hotel, waiting for a cab. Actually that sounds a lot like we were having a conversation. Edit: I was fracturing his native language as we talked at each other in Italian. Anyway, he asked where I was from. I said Chicago. Oh Chicago, he exclaimed! Then he grabbed himself and said in an absolutely perfect impersonation of half my family “Eh, how you doin’?” Phonetically: ha yo doan? Three syllables, stress on the middle one. I laughed a lot louder than I probably should have, but it was such an odd thing. Here was an Italian impersonating what I have always regarded as an Italian-inflected mangling of English like you hear in many urban areas. I didn’t have the vocabulary to note the irony to him.

My second laugh was today at a coffee shop watching an American try to order a cafe mocha like she clearly does at Starbucks back home. The barista was utterly befuddled. And here she thought she was so cultured. They both left that transaction disappointed I think.