Friday, October 13, 2006

Not quite there yet

So, I was all set to write to you about how I was assimilating into Italian culture. I was going to tell you that I’m becoming like Sigourney Weaver in Gorillas in the Mist. You know the movie, when, slowly slowly throughout the movie she takes on more and more of the characteristics of the gorillas with whom she is living. Please don’t misunderstand my allusion, I am NOT equating Italians to gorillas!. But rather I was going to point out this slow process of understanding and assimilation into a new culture, where behaviors and speech of those around you become your own…like when Sigourney Weaver’s lower jaw started jetting outward by the end of the movie.

I was going to tell you about my trip the other day to the phone store where I have to go to recharge the internet every month. I was going to tell you that when I was driving home I had a sensation of being so very Italian. I was going to tell you that when I was in the phone store, I didn’t just go in, ask for the recharge, pay and leave – which was the purpose. While there, I recharged the internet and also started chatting with the woman behind the counter. I asked her about other phone packages…not for the internet, which was my task there…I started asking her questions about my phone, my husband’s phone, our combined package. God, I felt so Italian. I had no intension of buying anything or changing our packages or anything, I was just interacting, getting information, passing some time.

I was going to write to you about all that until I spent the other day in my friend’s shop. I’m not assimilated at all, not even in the least.

My friend owns a “casalinga” shop. This in and of itself is confusing to one not from this culture. The casalinga shop sells things for the housewife. Her particular shop has all the stuff you need to sew (except the actual fabric), tons of buttons, some costume jewelry, and loads and loads of socks and nylons.

While I was there, every person (all women and one man) who came in didn’t just look around, get what they needed, pay and leave. They ALL went straight for my friend. They then proceeded to tell her what they needed, what they were doing, they debated the merits of this one or that one, asked her questions about other stuff in stock – we’re talking about pairs of nylons and bits of elastic here, people! Each sale took, on average, about 10 minutes.

I guess I have a ways to go yet.


  1. bigsis10:50 PM

    That sure explains a lot about our father-- do you think? How many of them were staring before they actually spoke to someone?!?

  2. Hi Lynn!

    Your insights into the process of acculturation are superb! I hope you don't mind too much, but I shared this story with my graduate class the other night---the topic was on Assimilation and Acculturation of Families. Very cool!


    --Matt Brosi (cousin Whitney's husband)