Have you ever gotten drunk with your parents?
It’s a strange thing.
It’s like seeing your professor at a frat party.
It’s like eating chicken with a duck.
It was about a week before my program started, and I wanted to breathe some life into Skele-Milan; I wanted to convince my parents that they brought me to a place with humans in it; that it wasn’t some stand-in town so I could join the Cirque when they left (Hm. Considering it.). I wanted to show them aperitivo as if I’d done it myself (which I hadn’t). I wanted them to trust me, and trust Milan. LonelyPlanet was my sword, GoogleMaps my camel — We went to hippest-sounding place in my 3-inch-thick guidebook that, truth be told, I never cracked open again after the tourist-student transition.
Planet stopped being Lonely for me, I guess.
I was still panting, not so much from fatigue as from excitement that we didn’t get lost or mugged, when we sat down to order. Scratch that — when we sat down and sent out “the vibes“ to order. Y’know, that thing, where you pay about 1/5th of your attention to who you’re with, that 1/5th really being just pointing your head at that person, and the rest of your body is facing the room and craning its neck and trying to telepathically create a Princess-Leah projection of yourself coming out of your chest and going “HELLO. HELLO?!”
There are no Vibes in Italy.
4 fumbly minutes of Italian later, the picture above was in front of us: Three drinks and three cautiously-stacked buffet plates. That’s how aperitivo works: You pay for a drink, you stay for the company, and you eat all can, kinda. We weren’t sure how American we could be, here; What’s the protocol? Which food is allowed to touch which? Can I scarf it? Can I stack it? Can I have it?
We forked around the bruschetta & risotto but for some reason, we hadn’t yet snapped out of 1/5ths-hey-waiter mode. And it wasn’t the service, nor the fact that my birth-givers were about to see me tipsy, that distracted us. There was clearly some posh-chic-and-aloof class that we’d failed out of as Americans. It was like having aperitivo in a room full of well-dressed Cthulus.
You‘re the weirdo.
Everyone was looking at each other, but we were looking at them.