June 25, 2009 by Kimberli, under Italy, love, photo, Uncategorized.
Part 8 – Italy
Note: Thankfully, there are no photos associated with this chapter.
I continue to be confused, on a number of levels, when it comes to international plumbing. First, there is the problem with my own plumbing whenever I travel. (Those of highly refined manners or delicate sensitivities may wish to simply skip to the next chapter at this point.) There is the issue of a body being hauled over land and sea, through time zones and possibly war zones, only to be dumped into what may either be morning or night, fed a foreign meal and then being asked to perform as usual. Mine just simply refuses. “No,” it says, “you can not tell me it’s morning when I know it’s night and you just kept me awake like some sex-crazed college student. You didn’t even give me any fun! I was forced to sit in a seat much too small for my long legs, next to a man who drooled on me, all the while listening to screaming cranky children. Oh, yes, you tried to entertain me with those five feature films in a row, but I know better. You really pulled out all the stops with those sleeping pills and when that didn’t work you snuck to the back of the cabin and desperately downed a beer. No, I didn’t get a wink of sleep and I know for a fact it is nighttime. I just don’t know why the sun is rising. Ridiculous!” My Body, with a capital “B,” tells me in a very matter of fact tone. “I’m simply not going to reboot like your beloved laptop! My internal clock is going to shut down until you give me a good explanation for the mayhem you’ve put me through.” And so it goes. Body stops functioning in a “regular” way. The first few days pass, but nothing else does. I try to stay up until night and go to bed when the Italians do, but toss and turn all night. “Nope, not gonna do it,” Body says. I eat and drink according to schedule, but no go. I try to translate Milk of Magnesia to Elisabetta, but I’ve already told her that I’m allergic to milk and now she is also confused.
I go to the pharmacy and they hand me magic powder. “Ok, I understand, just a little powder with a lot of water or there will be a big problem.” I take a teaspoon with a glass of water that night. Nothing the next day. Meanwhile I’m still eating – pizza with eggplant? Sure! The next night, a tablespoon more plus my glass of water. Eating, eating. It stands to reason that if what goes up must come down, then what goes in must come out. Nothing. I’m getting worried. I’ll eat more greens with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Olives are green, right? The problem is there’s also bread and pasta and prosciutto everywhere that just puts a stop to everything. I have a little water with my glass of magic powder on the sixth day. And on the seventh day God created relief and blessed women with their pre-pregnancy figures.
This is not the only problem of this ilk that I face when traveling, however. For the part of my plumbing that always works there is equal confusion. Usually it has to do with how to flush the toilets that look relatively similar to those I’m used to but seem to hind the flushers. There are those hanging pull chain flushers that linger just above my head and out of site. Then there are the most common of pulling knob flushers that sit on the back of the toilet and mock me for missing them. Finally there are the steppy foot flushers that conspire with the sink to hide themselves from view. I can spend hours looking for these flushers.
Worst of all are the truly deceptive toilets. Just evil. For example, the first day I was here in Italy I went to the all-female olive-skinned-nakedness beach where I displayed my lily-white carcass and strikingly male chest. Why I didn’t just go back into the ocean, I’m not sure. But I decided to use the Italian porta potties that sat on the far edge of the rocky beach. I step into one and then immediately step out again thinking it must be the men’s. Then I remember, I’m on a women’s beach. No male porta potty here. I go back in and close the door behind me. This will require some brain power. There is a hole in the floor and around it the plastic floor is molded to run toward the center. Ok, I think, I’ve seen this before. I’ve been here six times, how is it I always forget about public toilets. Somehow I do. I think it’s self-protection, like when a child has a terrible trauma and forgets its past. I decide to go out on a limb. I start pulling down, then eventually give up and pull off, as I can’t seem to figure out how it would work just pulled down. I stand over the hole, facing the back wall and wonder, Am I supposed to do this like a guy? Oh, no, no, no, how silly of me. I’m supposed to crouch down a little like I’m doing a wall-sit at the gym. Now I remember. I look at the wall three inches from my face then down at the hole and then my feet. Wrong direction! I turn around and wall-sit again, facing the door this time. Tighten those abs, squeeze those glutes. How in the world would my mom, after a mastectomy that borrowed muscles from her stomach so she can’t even do sit-ups now – pee in Italy? Would she fall in and get sucked down the tiny hole? And my birthmother with her triple Zs, she would tumble forward and fly out the door. I’m trying to figure out how to both squeeze the glutes and relax the rest when I remember I’m still not doing it right. I have to squat all the way down. Ok, try not to touch the floor now. Oh God, where is the hand sanitizer! I’m so grateful the magic powder worked yesterday instead of today. Thank you, thank you, thank you… I look around for the toilet paper, which is miraculously balanced on a knob over a brown bag of politely rolled up used toilet paper. “How quickly can my American behind get out of this porta potty and back into the ocean?” I wonder.