it's the little things

I have a little old grandmotherly neighbor at the end of my block, who, for months has hated Napoleon sniffing around her home. "GET OUT!!! GET YOUR DOG OUT!!! No s*itting on my sidewalk!" she'd yell out of her window, even at 12:35 a.m., if she spotted us. Nevermind that I always pick up after Nappo, or that I pay taxes for her sidewalk, or that I am in shock that an old woman who could be my grandmother is yelling "s*it" to me instead of "poo-poo," or that she has a hose she can use to wash down any "stains" she claims that the dogs leave there, but in any case, for months, me and Nappo had come to regard her with fear and suspicion.

That was until A reported one day that the little old grandmotherly neighbor was Italian, and not Greek, as we had originally suspected. "I heard her speaking Italian," he told me. "Are you sure it was Italian?" I needed this confirmation. "Mom. Don't you think that I know what Greek sounds like by now?"

He was right. We don't really live in Anytown, U.S.A. -- we live near Athens Square, the park where the big Socrates statue donated by Greece sits, near the Akropolis meat market, across from Opa! Opa! restaurant and Athens Cafe. I hear there used to be Italians before the Greeks, and Irish before the Italians, but those populations have dwindled. And so was born my plan.

I walked Napoleon past Ms. Italian Grandmotherly Thing's house the week after Italy won the World Cup. She was tending to her flowers in her miniscule garden. "Buona sera," I said. She looked up. And stared at me as I walked past her home. I took a peek as I walked past. I swore I saw a smile.

The next time I saw her, the sun was setting, again she was tending to her flowers. "Buona sera," I said. She smiled. "Buona sera," she replied.

If it was morning, I'd say, "Buon giorno," and it was then, the first buon giorno, that it seems she couldn't take it anymore.
"Excusah meah?" she said.
"Yes?" I said.
"Youah arah sooah niceah. You Italian?"
"No. But I've been to Italy. Several times. I love it."
"Aaaah. Okayah. Buon giorno to yoooah!"

A is studying for the Lycée Français test this month, as well as the ISEE. Private school, here we come.


Heidi said...

I shared an office for six months once with a young lady from Italy. She spoke English well and was open to learning more.

She was surprised that I could deduce a lot of her Italian, based only on my few years of school French and my many years as a musician. Presto! Con brio! Pianissimo!

Princess Ennui said...

Sending good mojo A's way!

liz said...


What made you decide to switch from homeschooling to private school? What year is A applying for? (high school?)

I assume the private schools are all booked up for this September, right?

My Italian repertoire, from my visit to Italy when I was in college (taught to me by a friend who is fairly fluent)

Va Via! O devo chiamare la politzia?

(Go Away! Or must I call the police?)

Vore chibo! (I want food!)

Dove il gabinetto? (Where's the john?)

la Maitresse said...

"What made you decide to switch from homeschooling to private school?"

In a word? Work.

Check out a previous entry re: our private school admissions counselor.