I returned from my Italian adventure at the ripe hour of 2:30 on Sunday morning, Cairo’s hazy smog clouds welcoming me in an open cough to its crowded haphazard streets. Upon evaluating to what extent my trip was a failure or a success based upon a numerical gradation of the number of goals I accomplished, I found that even with partial credit given, I only achieved a raw score of 45.45%, otherwise known as an F. Unfortunately this means I will have to go to Italy once again in the spring in order to try to achieve a passing score and graduate onto other countries.
Below I will evaluate the success of my trip objective by objective:
1. Eat Italian food. SUCCESS
Accomplished with surprising ease. In direct defiance of variety, Italians tend to eat Italian food every day, even eschewing other respectable ethnic cuisines like Mexican or Chinese.
2. Drink fermented Italian beverages. SUCCESS
I made my own Italian wine by stealing some grapes from a neighbor’s vineyard, mashing them up, putting yeast in my sock, throwing it all in an empty 7 UP bottle and letting it sit in the sun. When it was nice and bubbly I passed it an a bottle of Tylenol around and we had ourselves a great time.
3. Sit in a meadow and breathe. SUCCESS
After panting up a rather steep hill, I and companion came upon an old villa that overlooked the city and right in front of it was a steep decline that led into a meadow. I scrambled down it and sat in the shade of a tree for a few moments while my travel companion, who is not the meadow sitting sort, opted to wait for me. I could smell fresh mint around me and had almost achieved spiritual revelation when I remembered my companion and I crawled back up and we got on with our lives.
4. Nap on the beach in a one piece bathing suit. SUCCESS
My ten dollar public-swimming-pool-blue swimsuit I bought in Ecuador is not holding up great, but it sure does accent my pasty white flesh. When I arrived at the beach and stripped down to my swimwear, my Italian host’s parents asked me if it was my first time at the beach, and I grabbed her mother by her shoulders, stared at her with desperate eyes and said “In the sun…it’s my first time in the sun…”
5. Find something with little blue flowers on it to purchase and call my own. Place in someone else’s bag and claim they stole it. FAIL
Lots of crap to buy, nothing I wanted with little blue flowers.
6. Find cool gifts for the family to replace what I originally planned to bring back for them: pyramid keychains and little piles of sand. FAIL
Gifts are way too expensive in Italy. For the price of one scarf for my sister in Italy I could buy her an entire loom and weaving lessons in Egypt.
7. Get in as many people’s photos as possible while at touristy sites like the Colosseum and the Pope’s wax museum. HALF CREDIT
We tried getting in people’s pictures, but the angles proved fairly awkward so we settled for taking pictures of the tourists themselves. Vouyeristic? Possibly. Sue me.
8. Go to a hair salon and get my bangs cut. Refuse to pay and see what happens. HALF CREDIT
I didn’t go to hair salon since, as stated previously, it would have been expensive and the language barrier would have made the “not paying” thing more difficult to explain. I did, however, cut my bangs myself. Since no one notices I cut them, I believe I have avoided a case of awkward bangs for the first time since I started cutting my bangs myself. Great success.
9. Speak with an Italian accent the whole time and see how many best friends I make. FAIL
I opted to speak fake Italian and Spanish mixed together. I really felt I could speak Italian after having even one glass of wine, but it was interesting to note that Italians themselves continued to not understand me.
10. Verify my hypothesis that Spanish and Italian are actually the same language. HALF CREDIT
I’m giving myself half credit for this since if I spoke Spanish with people, they would usually understand what I was saying. However, these interactions were usually accompanied by wild hand gestures that corresponded to what flavors of ice cream I wanted, so I can’t say the theory was widely tested outside of ice cream shops.
11. Take a nap at least once. SUCCESS
Napped once in the bungalow, once on the beach, once in the hotel room, and once under a tree.
12. Claim I am the direct descendant of the last emperor and declare my rule over Italy via public service announcement. FAIL
13. Pretend to be German and wear socks with my sandals. HALF CREDIT
Though I did not pretend to be German, I did wear my adventure sandals everywhere. Italians do not wear adventure sandals. If it weren’t already painfully obvious by the pallor of my skin and hair that I was not Italian, my disgustingly practical footware gave it away even before I got to speaking fake Italian.
14. Coat myself in glue and then roll in macaroni. Run through the streets screaming like the famous Italian macaroni monster. HALF CREDIT
My colleague still managed to scare a child by almost running him over on a bike. The bike was unharmed.
15. Say “Mamma mia!” as many times as possible. FAIL
I only said it once and no one even heard me. They do say it a lot though.
16. Stare at my travel companion on the train when he’s not looking at me and then look away quickly when he suspects something. Repeat continually. HALF CREDIT
Instead of staring, I would fall asleep right as we boarded any form of transportation and my mouth would instantly gape open, something equally disconcerting.
17. Politely ask flight attendants to not make eye contact with me and explain I usually sit in the first class but there was a misunderstanding with my company and they booked the wrong ticket. FAIL
18. Blend in with the locals by covering my face in pizza sauce. HALF CREDIT
I unwittingly walked around for a while with some food bits on my face, though I don’t think it helped me blend in with any locals.
19. Pick and eat my own wild mushrooms. HALF CREDIT
My companion and I stumbled upon a park/orchard and we ate figs and plums right off of the trees. We called it foraging but I’m not sure if that term is properly used if one is gathering fruit in an orchard.
20. Make a new facebook friend. SUCCESS
My Italian host friended me on facebook and I accepted and her family has insisted on us coming again next year for a week. I don’t know if they are sincere but I, for one, am sincerely not ashamed of taking them up on the offer. I have proclaimed them welcome to my home in Oklahoma, but I don’t think I’m in any real danger of them accepting.
21. Fight a wild boar to the death. Eat its flesh. HALF CREDIT
I did eat boar on a bed of polenta in a medieval city, washed it down with a beer and was then married off to someone against my will, just like a real medieval lass.
22. Purchase a new spear and go truffle hunting. HALF CREDIT
I ate something with truffle oil on it and it was delicious. It was the food equivalent of being hugged on the mouth by a mushroom.