All this reminds me of a story relating to my husband, who, though undoubtedly Italian (who else would pack olive oil for vacation?) is not what you’d call a flashy dresser. Or, I should say, he has all the necessary elements, but doesn’t really have the knack for putting them together correctly. I am considering adopting a Geranimals system.
Anyway, he came to the States for the first time in 1988 to stay with my family, and about a week into the trip my Mom sent us to the local 7-11 for something she had run out of for dinner. I remember there was the requisite “No shirts, no shoes, no service” notice on the door, which Stefano considered thoughtfully for a minute before going inside. I didn’t think anything more of it until a few days later, when we were talking about his first impressions of the US, and he announced that he didn’t think Americans treated their poor very well. Now, I happen to agree, but this was an intriguing comment to make after ten days of middle America suburban living. To make a long story short, he assumed that those too destitute to afford proper footwear and accompanying attire were being denied their God given right to a Super Big Gulp. I tried to explain to him that it had more to do with fashion crimes (not to mention hygiene) than economics, but given that the average Italian would sooner go to the supermarket wearing their underwear as a hat than leave the house shoeless, he remained unconvinced.
Fast forward a week or so to find us attending the Taste of Chicago, arguably the largest celebration of the pursuit of obesity on the planet (the last time we went, chocolate covered frozen bananas were sold at not one, not two… SIX stands. Now that’s the kind of cookin’ that makes the Windy City famous.), attended by hundreds of thousands of badly dressed fat people (many my relatives, so I can say it) who, if they are wearing shoes, are wearing rubber beach flip-flops and, if they are wearing shirts, are wearing those black t-shirts printed with the flag of our nation and emblazoned with those immortal words: “Just try burning this one, a**hole”, which make me so proud to be American.
He has never been the same since.