I probably came across a teeny bit whiny in my previous post…The People of Rome…Part 1. Now, I’d like to talk about the people here who make me swoon with…what? It feels like some kind of old remembrance, something deep in my heart that only shows up in rare moments.
Here are a few examples: the old men walking on the street very slowly with their hands clasped behind their backs as if they are trying to solve the world’s problems – this, which I’ve witnessed several times already, reminded me so much of my grandfather, they’ve made me want to cry (in a good way). Then seeing the young Moms, frazzled after a day of work, pushing a stroller and keeping hold of their little ones’ hands while walking with their other arm through their Mom’s so she remains sure footed on the street paved with uneven cobblestones. Beyond sweet. My other favorites are the young Dads, who on weekend mornings are out in force taking their sons for pastry and coffee. I find myself smiling broadly when I see one of these Dads laughing at his son’s antics if young or at a private joke, if a bit older.
Just today, I saw a man in the pastry shop kiss the temple of the young man running the register, who neither looked up or seemed particularly bothered by the gesture. In fact, it looked to me as if the young man barely registered the kiss by what appeared to be his grandfather or great uncle. The older man’s face had a mischievous smirk – I couldn’t tell if it was pride in the young man or if he was patting himself on the back because he got away with the affectionate touch without getting scolded. Either way, I was entranced.
I find it so interesting to observe these sweet moments with the men here in a culture that many know from the movies/TV to be rough and often mean, unemotional creatures. Yes, it is a stereotype, but we all know, “stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason.” Even I, who had a soft-spoken Dad who barely yelled, much less ever hit us kids and a brother who’s big and when serious, looks scary, had a very bad impression of Italian men. In fact, since I was a kid I always said, the only two Italian guys I like are my Dad and my brother (well, ok, my Grandpa, too). I did grow up during the time of open shirts to the waist and long gold chains and a very macho attitude prevailed which would scar anyone, right? (While it’s true, I did eventually marry an Italian man, he was soooo different from the Italian men I grew up with [cowboy and a cook!] that I did not feel like I violated my own mantra.)
I am curious to see if I witness anything while here that changes these initial reactions. In the meantime, I’ll keep my sunglasses on so no one sees my eyes when particularly moved by a sight on the street or by the stupidly silly smile on my face when amused by a grandfather who gets away with a stolen kiss.