Friday, August 12, 2005

Slacking off

While in Rome, I was supposed to do as the Romans do not do..that is, I was supposed to interview a few Romans here and there, or at least the odd Italian, for my film project. I have to admit to some slacking off in this process, but will explain. I am staying in a cheap hotel down the street two blocks from the Termini Train Station. All around me are signs indicating the prevalence of pick-pocketing as a viable alternative to work among the denizens of this neighborhood. When I have not been locked into my hotel room, I have been walking quickly through the crowds of the train station while clutching my camera bag to one side of my body and my money pouch to the other side. So far, knock wood, I have been lucky to get in and around the station without losing so much as my virginity, but I am heading to Napoli next and I hear it is even more threatening than Rome in many ways. With any luck, most of the pick-pockets will be in Greece for their holidays and my virginity will remain spotty, at least some of my few remaining virginities.

While passing one of the nearby restaurants two nights back, I made eye contact with a woman who was sitting in one of those cheap plastic chairs that will not scoot back when you are sitting in it. She looked at me, and her eyes went immediately to the camera bag that was clutched to my side. When her eyes caught sight of my bag, she immediately tried to scoot backwards, with the effect of making the chair tip slightly backwards. This, or course, threw her off balance and caused her arms to flail about in the air as she shouted with a heavy British accent, "They've just made off with me bag, those dirty bastards!" I looked briefly at the face that she was sporting at the moment, and decided that her drama was just a bit more than I could bear and that it might actually serve as a diversion for other acts of I increased my forward momemtum, moving gaily forward, as it were.

This morning, knowing that I had to be out of my hotel by 9 AM, I woke at 7 AM and took my shower. Afterwards, I went to my favorite breakfast café to find that today is a feria day, some kind of holiday, and many places have chosen to close down. I began to look for a place where I could humilate myself anew by asking for caffe latte in Spanish and croissants in French while pretending to speak Italian with my hands for an entirely new audience of frustrated, tired-of-seeing-this-act, Italians. Across the street, I found just the place and applying what I have learned, I walked in and said "Buon Giorno...Un caffe latte y dos croissants, une naturale y la otra en ciocollato." The waiter smirked, but turned and began to gather my breakfast. I went outside to eat and to drink my coffee. Afterwards, I decided I wanted another coffee, so I took my dishes inside and ordered anew, this time getting it pretty close to the correct version in Italian, "Un caffe latte per favore."

When I went back outside to the terrace, I found that all the tables were taken, and sensing the possibility of an interview, I asked an African man if I could join him at his table (in English). He agreed, so I sat down and we bagan to talk. He started by saying how we are all people and that it is our governments that make the world bad. I had to agree with that. He then introduced himself as Mohammed from Somalia, and I introduced myself as Ron from North Carolina, USA. He stumbled for about 10 minutes with the pronunciation of Ron until I finally just introduced myself as Reynaldo...which he got immediately. I was really excited about the prospect of an interview as he told me he was 74 years old (didn't look a day over 50) and he began to spout philosophy about the political aspects of religion and how we are all one underneath it all. I was just about to ask him about doing an interview when he started to tell me about the earth and the sky.

Apparently, the sky is man and the earth is woman. Man has nothing unless he has earth to walk upon. When it rains, man is f*cking (his exact words)woman and if he is well, then he will make her pregnant. If he is not well, then he will only make mud, but it takes mud to make everything around us green, so even that is good. As long as man is f*cking woman, he said again, while making the sign of walking on the earth and the sound of pffft, pffft, pffft with each imaginary footstep on his woman, all is good. I recognized this misogeny and was saddened that he had lived 74 years without learning more respect for the women in his life and without knowing that man and woman can be whole within themselves without the need for one another as long as procreation is not an issue. I told him that I had to leave to check out of my hotel, and I did just that.

When I arrived in my hotel, I finished packing my bags, and locked my room so that I could visit the little room down the hallway. I am not exaggerating at all when I refer to it as the little room. In fact, I have had to come up with a set of standard operating procedures for using the little room that might be useful to future American visitors (or larger travelers from other countries) to this hotel or similar places.

Fìrst, you have to close and lock the door, because once you start this process, it is difficult to interrupt it for a quick grab at the doorknob. Next, you have to slide one leg between the wall and the front of the toilet bowl, while raising the toilet seat cover and bending your knees so that you can hold the cover up with your buttocks. Next while keeping your knees bent, and the bowl cover in place, you must undo your pants and slip them down each of your legs alternatively about 3 inches at a time until they are around your ankles. Then you repeat the process with your undies until you are standing there nude, with the toilet bowl lid resting against your buttocks and your pants around your ankles. Now with your hands finally free, you reach around and grab the toilet seat and simultaneously drop until you are in the sitting position on the throne. You repeat this process in reverse order when done, but while being very careful not to move too quickly. Otherwise, you might catch your head on the wall-mounted water heater that is located right above and in front of the toilet about 4 feet off the floor. It may even be helpful to you to turn your head to one side while performing the mount and dismount operations. If you are in position for a protracted amoung of time, particularly during the heat of the day, you might find it useful to lean forward slightly and to rest the top of your head against the cool plaster of the wall in front of the toilet. Otherwise, I recommend staying as little time as possible here as getting a cramp of any type could result in serious injury.

OK, my train for Naples leaves in an hour and I have to navigate the sea of pickpockets between here and the station while pulling all my bags behind me. I suppose I must head on out and hope for the best.



Blogger Erin said...

OK I had some comment to make that was somehow relevant, until I got to the advice about the "little room." Now all I can think is that you REALLY should have used the word "buttocks" (in a really good Forrest Gump voice)

8/13/2005 12:25:00 PM  
Blogger Ron Hudson said...

That makes me want to say "Run, Farst, RUN!!!!!!!"

8/14/2005 11:41:00 AM  
Blogger Erin said...

lmao Ron! You don't need to do that unless that lady in the no-slide chair comes after your camera bag...

8/15/2005 12:18:00 AM  

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