Her Ladyship

Notes from the gutter.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Mayday memories

(I realize that the 1st of May has come and gone. Indulge me.)

1. I did my year-abroad in Bologna, Italy. At first, I'd wished I'd gotten to go somewhere a little more historic/famous, like Florence or Venice. But soon, I realized what a swell deal I'd gotten. Bologna is a fairly large city with a sizable student population - oldest university in the Western hemisphere, as any Bolognesi will tell you - but is off the beaten path of most tourists. If you're an American, you may remember Bologna only as the train station you went through going to somewhere in your guidebooks. Which was fine with the rest of us. The first thing an American does once you cross its borders is develop an immediate and intense hatred for all other Americans. (Yes yes, I know, join the rest of the world.)

Bologna, besides being practically American-free, is also a beautiful walled medieval city with a large central plaza. It is known by Italians for its "portici" (vaulted pathways) and for having the best food in all of Italy.

It also is known lovingly as "Bologna the Red" for its leftist leanings. I'd say they were all in the past, but not quite. Yard sales regularly turned up detritus from the Soviet Union's glory days. Its walls were littered with anti-capitalist sentiments. And every year, on May 1, they'd have a huge May Day parade. No giant missiles or tanks, but red banners and sickles as far as the eye could see.

While in Bologna, I took French from an Italian woman who was awesome. She was vivacious, super-intelligent, and married to a hippie professor at the local university who went around in banged-up old sandals and unkempt hair (for an Italian, the latter is practically blasphemy). Since we were an American school, we followed the American holidays and made everyone come on the Italian ones. This caused some grumbling amongst the staff. During one tutoring session, I asked my uber-cool professor if she minded working those days. She said, "No. But there is one day I WILL NOT come to work." Raises a finger and an eyebrow. "That is, May Day!"

2. In Girl Scouts, we were always looking for public service activities so to get badges. You're thinking, this is LA, god knows a lot of people could use a helping hand, right? Plenty of options out there. So what do we do, one spring? Create a maypole and learn a dance that involves spinning around it with ribbons, which we performed at the local and very depressing retirement home. How this qualified as public service, I'm still unclear. It was fun though. And if you think about it, given little girls' obsessions with braiding things, it is rather appropriate.

3. When I was six, someone foolishly gave me a book called "Scat Cat!" It involved a be-yoo-tiful white cat with blue eyes who was being shooed out of every refuge, but eventually found sanctuary with a little girl. Talk about adding gasoline to a flame. I'd wanted a cat anyways, and this just gave me a storyline to work toward. I hounded my hapless parents relentlessly, causing them to spend a good chunk of their spare time alternating between calling pet stores and cursing me under their breaths. Finally, a white cat with blue eyes was located, and off we went to get her. She technically wasn't all white - she had a few black and tan spots - but it was love at first sight. Of course, she immediately was named, but that wasn't enough. We wanted to know exactly when she was born so that birthday parties could be planned. My mom, undoubtedly ruing the day I learned how to read, came up with May 1, unleashing a storm of parties every spring to celebrate the clueless' cat's arrival to this world.


Post a Comment

<< Home