And so is my daily frustration with the Italians answering me in English, and it PISSES ME OFF!
I spent 8 months 3 years ago taking Italian classes at Giorgio La Pira language school. I spent 4 days a week, 2 hours a day learning 96 different conjugations for the verb fare ( to make). Is my Italian great? NO, is my Italian super crappy, NO, it's marginal, marginal Italian with a new york accent. BUT I TRY!!! And I just want for when I speak to someone in Italian , in Italy, that they do not answer me in English. I have found that at least in large cities where English is pretty widely spoken ( especially in Florence) this is a losing battle.
So a few weeks ago I found myself at the new Hard Rock Cafe in Piazza Repubblica. I know a lot of expats roll their eyes at the thought of a Hard Rock in their beautiful adopted city of Florence but I like it, and I'm not embarrassed to say so. In fact I'll go so far as to say I wish they had a STARBUCKS!!! Oh, the blasphemy! You know who else loves the Hard Rock, it's fruity drinks and fattening fried appetizer platters? The Italians! I have been there a few times now and it's always packed with locals.
Anyway, I met my friend Laura there for an afternoon of yummy cocktails, we sat at the bar and ordered our mixed appy plate and a couple of drinks. Laura , who is super fluent in Italian ordered and the bartender answered her in Italian. HOWEVER, anytime I spoke to him he answered me in English, as did the hostess and any and every waiter. Although this was not a new experience to me on this day it was getting my panties in a bunch so I decided it was time to find a way to get these Italians to speak to me in their language.
love the scrip in Italian- Impazzirai ( will drive you CRAZY!!)
I told Laura that even when the Italians answered me in English I would ( if I could) still answer them in Italian. So I tried that for the next hour, no surprise, it did not work. Still, English responses.
PLAN B: Call them out
Me: ( Pointing to my drink) Scusa, posso avere un altro?
Waiter: Yes, would you like the same thing?
Me: Dude! why do you do that??
Waiter: Do what?
Me: Always answer me in English!
Waiter: Because you are American, no?
Me: Yeah, but I'm in Italy! I'm living in Italy! I speak to you in Italian and still you answer me in English! It's rude! I try , I really try to speak your language, and still I'm replied to in English, and it's rude!
Yeah, well I pretty much scared the shit out of that poor waiter, he was the unfortunate soul to catch the wrath of my 3 year language gripe. He apologized up and down and explained he likes speaking English, wants to practice his English. Well buddy, I like Italian, and I want to practice my Italian which is nearly IMPOSSIBLE because the Italians will only speak to me in English!
Now I have a few friends who really speak terrible English and they are perfect for me to practice my Italian but I don't see them nearly enough, I need everyday re-enforcement and I'm just not getting it.
PLAN C: They want English.... Give it to them.... In SPADES!
My new plan was if I was responded to in English I'd go all New York slanglish on them at rapid fire speed, a speed only capable of people from the tri-state area. Poor guy who was the first to answer my Italian with English. I started out slow, let him think I was OK with the English responses but by the the third time I unleashed an equivalent of New York Ebonics on this guy. Stunned, stunned he was! He looked at me as if I was speaking Chinese. And then I heard the music to my ears, NON, HO CAPITO. ( I don't understand).
*** RANT INSIDE MY HEAD ONLY*****
Non ho capito?? Non ho capito?? Vero??? Hmmmmm... So, NOW you don't understand me? You want to speak English to me, this is what you will get, no more of me speaking English slowly so I can be understood, no more of me correcting my English grammer for the sake of the locals and no more cleaning up my truck driver of a mouth. You want MY English? You want MY English? You can't handle MY English!!! ( HAHA, a little " Few Good Men" for ya)
What followed was even more pleasing to my ears the phrase " Addesso, parliamo Italiano" EUREKA!!! I 've done it! I have found the secret key to making the Italians speak Italian to me whether they want to or not, just out- English them :)
cute waiter gives me a zoolander
they say, the BIGGEST Elvis fan in all of Italy