Monday, February 27, 2012

Embarrassment at the Farmacia

What's " too much information" to write about? Probably this, definitely this, BUT, I'm gonna anyway. I've been holding back, I have to admit. Trying to keep some sort of decorum on this blog , this blog that I'm not the best at up keeping.

I've passed on writing about the fact that Italian toilets have a VERY low water level which affects the plop of the poop, I've passed on writing about a trip to the GYN , AND, I've passed on writing about how vafaculo is not a proper substitute for the word fuck ( which after this I may attempt). Anyone offended should probably stop reading now.

Writing about the food, the art, the scenery, easy.This not so much. Not to belittle those things, all lovely and I love reading about it all. That said, I wrote a while back that life is the same no matter where you live and therefore you deal with the same crap, it just somehow seems funnier to me dealing with normal life occurrences in a foreign country and in a foreign language. In this case more embarrassing. So I'm going to be a fearless writer and go for it.

I woke up yesterday morning with an itch, an unmistakable itch, an itch I haven't had in maybe 15 years. Some women are more prone to these things, I never have been, but I am female so I have experienced it a few times in the past as every woman has. It's a fact of life as a woman. Even so,  I thought to myself, Noooooo! Can't be! There's no reason for this! Especially no FUN reason! I ignored it, but as the day went on it was clear, YEAST INFECTION!

Omg, I can't believe I just typed that! 

I couldn't decide what was more unsettling to me, the discomfort or the discomfort of having to go to the farmacia for this. I couldn't remember the name of the creme in the US so I googled it. Monistat 7, yeah, now I remember. I wondered if they had that here. Was it on a shelf ? OR worse, was I going to have to ask the pharmacist! In Italian!  The horror!

I emailed both my friends Laura and Arlene and asked what's the stuff for such a situation called here. Laura, who I then remembered is gigging with her cello somewhere never got back, Arlene, who is a lot more adult than I am when it comes to bodily functions wrote this:

"tell them you have an infezione vaginale and they'll hook you up"

I yelled back at the computer screen "it's not a VAGINAL infection!!!! Ew! It's your run of the mill yeast infection." NO way, No freakin way! CANNOT! I cannot walk into my farmacia where I have gone before for a cold sore only to have them say aloud HERPES, with me in English saying, NO! No herpes!! Cold sore, from the cold weather!!, and ask per qualcosa per infezione vaginale! I'd rather eat 5 gallons of yogurt ( which I hate).

Here's the thing, Italians are very matter of fact about all things body, no matter how embarrassing it may be to this American 14 year old stuck in a woman's body. I tried to keep that in mind as I walked the 2 blocks to my farmacia. You would think I was going to a job interview or taking a driving test for the first time my heart was beating so fast. I was sooo nervous and hoping there wasn't any other people in there. No such luck, the place was packed and I could feel my face turn purple.

Now at this farmacia there is an old woman who speaks no English and her husband who speaks pretty good English. So it's the man I now have to ask for something for my vagina. It's all so poetic.

It's my turn , I approach the counter, but the guy is busy so the old woman with the 8" high bun on the top of her head held in place by no less than 158 bobby pins, that stands about 4' tall ( probably the reason for the bun) asks if she can help me. I ask in Italian for a pen, I say I don't know how to say it in Italian. I write one word and one number, MONISTAT 7. I hand her the paper and ask do you have this? She looks at the paper, has no idea what it is, I knew she wouldn't but thought I'd take a shot, and then asks," What's it for?" OH NO! That's the question I was dreading.

UM, what's it for? What's it for? There was no way the words infezione vaginale were going to come out of my mouth. I tried, my mouth wouldn't say it. Immature? YES! ABSOLUTELY, in this case. Just couldn't do it. I just shook my head and as I did she handed the paper to her husband who promptly got on the computer to find out what Monistat 7 was. He found it, I could tell. Then he lifted his head and asked aloud for all the patrons to hear per infezione vaginale? There ya go! No escape, HORRIFIED!

He explained they didn't have that but something else. The woman says AHHH, ok! They look in the drawers where they keep the meds and shows me a box. He says it is not a creme but a pill. I'm thinking great! No muss , no fuss, pop a pill a few times, done. EXCEPT, when I ask how many times a day do I take it he says," NO, not for the mouth". Not for the mouth? For the ????? OHHHHHH!! NOOOOO! Why Why Why? This is what I am thinking as the 70 year old Italian man is making the charades motion of sticking the pill up one's va-jay-jay.

Yes, This is how I spent my morning. In fact ,they have a creme, they were out of it ( so I guess I'm not alone) but could have it at 4:00 pm. The worst part is, now, I have to go back. At least this afternoon I can quietly hand him the piece of paper that says something in Latin that I can't read and hope he just quietly hands me the package back and that no one reading this is at the farmacia :)

Sunday, February 19, 2012


So I wrote a post a while back called "Only Me" and I would have used it again but didn't want to be repetitious. Thing is, weird shit is always happening to me, and this day was no different.

I was in Milan for the day, second time in 2 weeks for a meeting in re: to my business. The meeting was going very well lasted about 6 hours. Half way through they ordered in lunch. We had a quick lunch relative to Italian standards and afterward the guy who I was meeting with had to make a quick call. I took that opportunity to run across the street to the small shop to get some Gola ( throat lozenges). I had been sick the week before and all the talking was making me scratchy.

When I returned to the office building there were 4 people waiting for the elevator, of which there were two. These elevators are the tiny tiny kind you find in Europe. They hold 2 normal size people OR 1 person and a luggage. No joke about 2 ft. square. Well these 4 Italians piled into that one like tightly packed sardines, with not an inch to spare, I had no choice but to wait for the other.

The other elevator arrived, I stepped in, pressed 3 ( which is really 4) and the doors shut. Nothing. Hmmm is it really slow or is it not moving? I press 3 again, wait, nothing. I press 0, the ground floor I entered on, nothing. I thought, still calm at this point, is it stuck? Noooo, can't be. Who gets stuck in elevators? Certainly not me. Again I press 0 and nothing. Then it hits me, OMG I'M STUCK IN A FREAKIN TINY ELEVATOR!!!!!! Panic sets in as I am sooooo claustrophobic that I have been know to have full blown panic attacks in a packed subway.

this is not me but this IS the size of the elevator

I start to hyperventilate, frozen afraid to move. I start pressing the alarm non stop, I can hear it ringing, but that's all I hear. I decide to try and open the door from the inside, so with both hands grab it and pull it open .Looking back at me are the interior cogs and pulleys of the elevators outside door, filled with dust and spider webs and I see I am stuck between floors about 4 ft. from the ground floor. THIS did not help calm me. I stand there in the center of the little box, still, very still.

Maybe 5 minutes have now passed and I hear voices. People, there are people out there!  Half crying and screaming Aiutami!!! Aiutami!!!! Sono Americana and I'm stuck in the elevator!!!!! I don't know why I felt necessary to say I was American, could have actually worked against me, I didn't know how to say stuck in elevator in Italian, maybe I thought the voices would know to speak English to me then ( if they could) and they did.

"How many are you?", a woman called. I said," just me, I'm alone and very claustrophobic. PLEASE, PLEASE help me", hysterical now. She said they have already alerted the building and someone was coming. I asked how long and she said soon. I asked was that ITALIAN soon or regular soon. Because subito can mean 3 hrs in some cases!

She said she did not know, I could see a small sliver of light between the closed exterior door and the shaft, the same sliver from which I heard her voice. She said she would stay there and talk to me til they came. I kept reiterating the claustrophobia fact and began deep breathing to calm myself. What I really needed was a xanax!!!  After about 15 minutes she says," they have called the technician again but it may now be a while." WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY will it be a while??? He was coming from somewhere else.

At the 25 minute mark she tells me the doorman is there, he has found a key for the exterior door. I ask if he can open it and she says maybe BUT maybe it's best to wait for the technician. "Why? What happens if he uses the key?"  AND THEN a thought , I gasp WAIT! STOP!I say, " If he opens the door will the elevator fall??"  I'm now thinking OMG, is the way I go? In some freak elevator accident in Milan, during a meeting? THAT WOULD SUCK!!!

I repeat," will the elevator fall? "The woman answers, "we don't think so." I said, " You don't think so? Are you not sure?"  She says, " No, we are not sure, but we think maybe not, it will not fall." Before I could say stop again I hear the doorman fiddling with the key, my heart is racing and then the door opens. Staring back at me from 4 ft. down are 2 Italian women and the doorman .And then the door closes agains.

They quickly  pull it open again, one woman is very tall,like 6',  I'm 5'2". She tells the other woman to hold the door open and then extends her arms for me to jump from the elevator 4ft. up into her open arms like a toddler would do at the swimming pool with their parent. I am trying not to laugh at this point, it's all so ridiculous. I jump, she catches me and all is right in the world.

Now the funniest part is who the woman was, but if I tell that now it'll give away why I was in Milan
and I am trying to keep that for the most part on the QT for a while longer. So I will update the identity in a few months :))

I took the stairs back up to the meeting :)