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Saturday, November 12, 2005

"I'm not Italian or American, I'm _____(insert country of choice-non English speaking)"

Yesterday was a nice sunny day by me.
The perfect day for a walk. Perfect for me, and perfect for about 3 million others too.
The streets were filled with dogs pooping on the sidewalk while their owners smoke like chimneys, little old ladies with those shopping carts on wheels just daring anybody to walk in front of them, old men on bicycles that look like they were around at the time of the second world war, young men on motorinos driving the wrong way on the one way road (only 2 today-a good day), me and a pair of Mormons looking for converts.

When I first arrived in Italy I was surprised to see pairs of well dressed people with bags full of little books walking down the street.
"Those look like Mormons looking for converts" I said to my husband.
"Those ARE Mormons looking for converts" he replied.
I was shocked. Of course many of them are American or English, and Italy seems to have an obsession for things American and English, both good and bad, so, why not Mormons too ?
Back to my walk, I have learned early on, that unless I want to discuss Mormon philosophy for hours the best thing to say is, of course, that I am a foreigner in Italy and do not speak Italian because obviously, they do, but I also must say that I do not speak English.
I cannot say that I am American, but neither can I say that I am Canadian, English, Austrailan or any other English speaking country nationality.
I also do not want to say "I No Speak Italiano o Eengleesh. I French..", or Spanish or German or any other language that their is a good probability that someone knows.
For this reason I usually say "I am from Slovakia." Or the Ukraine. Nowadays I'm using Polish, so I told the 2 Mormons on the street that I am from Poland.
That shuts them up fast. They want to hand out their little booklets and convert the infidels (in this case Catholic) to their religion.
I am not embarassed to be American or to speak English, but sometimes it is just faster to say you are neither and walk away.