Not long after the Italian and me became ‘official’, he suggested we go to Italy for a mini break.
It would have been a mini break if we had gone to Rome or Florence but he intended on parading me around his family and friends in his home town. The idea of this filled me with dread. I had visions of American Italian sitcom mothers squeezing my cheeks and wiping tomato sauce off my chin with the thumb they had just spat on!
Great. We were going to meet “The Family”. The Italian had told me repeatedly how amazing they were and how, of course, they would all love and welcome with me open arms. There was one issue.
I didn’t much like Italians. You may think this is odd as I was dating one but I suppose I had been led astray by my own ignorance. I had only ever had run-ins with Italian people before I met my Italian. I thought they were rude, arrogant and way too loud to be of any interest. I wasn’t concerned one iota if his parents were going to like me. I was concerned whether I was going to like them!
This preconception wasnt helped by the fact his mother was just down right rude to me within the first hour of us arriving. The Italian had warned me that his parents had only ever liked one of his ex-girlfriends and she too was English. Apparently she had had good parentage so I had a lot to live up to. He suggested I call them Signore and Signora until they advised otherwise.
So there I was being all polite, watching my P’s and Q’s when his mother, who had been jibber jabbering at me in Italian for the past twenty minutes, took out a pencil and paper.
“She’a used’a be’a an artist’a” the Italian offered in support of his mothers actions. He had assumed that she was about to draw me a picture.
She did. Not too dissimilar to the one below. I quickly realised that for the past half hour, the Italian’s mother had been trying to explain to me that she didn’t like my hair style. As I had been obviously nodding and saying Si in all the wrong places, she had taken to her art skills as a last resort to explain her conundrum.
As she muttered on whilst her pencil carried out stroke after stroke across the paper, a face was formed. Then, another face was formed. In the first one she lightly scribbled in a fringe and then placed a tick next to the face. Pointing at the second face, she left the forehead blank, extended it upwards and drew a huge cross next to it.
With that, the Italian burst into creases of laughter and told me that his mother had been trying to tell me that due to my massive forehead I should consider getting a fringe to disguise it!!
That was it, my preconceptions of the Italian nation were confirmed: RUDE!
Disclaimer: these opinions were my own. I grew to love my mother in law dearly and although it has has taken me five years, I have warmed to the quirks and nuances that is Italian culture. Follow my posts in the near future to find out how I adapted (learned to turn a blind eye) to the craziness that makes Italy such a wonderful place.
Ps, I did eventually get a fringe. It looked hideous!
Do you have a foreign mother-in-law? Have you had any lost-in-translation moments that have ended up in giggles? The misunderstandings are sometimes half the fun!