February 16, 2007

Two Conversations with Elvira

I got rides a couple of times from an Italian archaeologist named Elvira. She is really nice, but she doesn't speak any English. We had some amusing conversations, however.

... on Americans...
Elvira: Where are you from?
Me: America.
Elvira: Yes, but which city?
Me: It's a small town in New York state.
Elvira [calls her friend on the phone]: Hey! Guess what? I am driving an American around! Yes, she's American. She's from New York. Not from Arkansas. She's stylish! [explains to me] We once met an American at a disco. And he was from Arkansas. Ar-kan-saw. But it's spelled like Ar-kan-zas. Are you from Arkansas? Hahahahaha.

Even in Italy, Arkansas has a reputation as being the boonies.

...on American music (which she constantly made me explain the lyrics to):
Elvira: What's Madonna in English?
Me: Madonna.
Elvira: No, I mean, what does the word translate as?
Me: Madonna.
Elvira: No, in Italian, Madonna is the mother of Jesus.
Me: Seriously. It's the same word.
Elvira: But when you translate Madonna...
Everyone else in the car: The same word!
Fiorella: You don't translate it. It's a name.
Elvira: So you have Madonna and child? In church?
Me: Yes. Sometimes Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.
Elvira: Aha! Madonna equals Mary!
Me: No, we have Mary, Maria, and Madonna.
Barbara: And Magdalena?
Me: Sure.
Elvira: No no no. Madonna is not Magdalena!

It was honestly an Italian version of who's on first. But not as funny. Guess you had to be there... 5 people and 3 suitcases crammed into a tiny little Ford Ka.


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