T his past week, on a transatlantic flight to London, I had more than enough time to think as I futilely attempted sleep between two large women. Not just any two large women, but 62-year-old identical twins, Barbara and Betty Franklin from Anamosa, Iowa. They wore the same outfits, but in different colors. Betty, the younger by 17 minutes, wore powder-blue from head to whited canvass sneakers, and Barbara, because she was “mom’s first girl,” got to wear the equally stunning pink version of the ensemble.
More and more, I am being asked by individuals why my column, in which I usually tell humorous stories about my life, is in the arts section of The Sun. I respond to these Naïve Nancys, by reminding them that humor indeed is an art form attempted by many yet mastered by few, and that my life is a masterpiece in the works. Some, though, just won’t have it.
For that reason, I decided that I would placate those whom wish I were not in the Arts by donning my aesthete hat this week and using my column to critique graphic design and propaganda. In order to appeal to the broadest base of readers, I will be dissecting Gannett Health Services’ shiteous imagery that presently can be found on their website.
I like to consider myself a quirky fellow — in the good way, though; not in the way like that the high school theatre teacher who paints his pick-up to resemble a zebra. I secretly aspire (well, not so secretly now) to become a true eccentric like those recently profiled in Vanity Fair. I am just waiting on the money that would afford me the frivolousness and time necessary to properly cultivate that ambition, as well as something fantastically bizarre to fixate upon and use as the crux of my newly preposterous persona.
I am a narcissist and I mostly use my column as a vehicle for talking about myself under the veil of providing comedic relief to the reader. This week, though, I am feeling generous: I will attempt to impart some useful advice. Today’s content is aimed at all who are planning to spend a term abroad in Europe and intend on traveling internationally during that time. I will use this space to dispel the mythical fabulosity (yeah, I said it) of the storied Ryanair.
Roughly a year ago I became the recipient of e-mail messages from unknown senders; it started innocently enough. Every few days I would receive a message in my inbox from an “Alexander” or a “Jenna” with a friendly, colloquial subject to the tune of “I haven’t talked to you in forever!” When I opened the e-mails, the body would either be a jumbled rant from what seemed like a schizophrenic, non-native speaker or a painfully out-of-context excerpt from fantasy writing. I dismissed the e-mails as a curious annoyance and promptly deleted them. Over the subsequent months, however, the trickle of unwanted and unwarranted e-mails has evolved into a kinky, insulting barrage.
Italian men are direct. They say what they mean and are not afraid to communicate their thoughts in a straightforward manner. For example, an Italian man desired to fornicate with an American classmate of mine. He simply followed her and her roommate home one night and when she arrived at her front door he asked, “Do you want to sex?” When she vehemently refused, he generously extended the same offer to her roommate. He saw no need to beat around the bush in attempts to get it. The girls, once indoors, found the proposition humorous and somewhat endearing. Had they been in America, they would have called the police.
Living abroad in Italy has made me think from an anthropological perspective about what it means to be a “tourist.” Is it the way one dresses, one’s lack of proficiency in the local language, or the quintessential camera and map that identifies him as a foreigner? I often use myself as an example and think of how I am perceived by Florence.
I know that I do quite well in the looks and body language department. Wearing fitted jeans, a Versace scarf, and Ray-Ban aviators — I walk past the Duomo each morning and perfect my indifference as I briskly navigate flocks of pigeons and gaggles of Japanese. Tired of taking pictures and rarely in need of my map, I am mistaken by most Italians for one of their own. The charade abruptly ends, though, when they attempt to converse with me.
I arrived at JFK airport four hours early. Unsure of what to do with myself, I purchased two magazines from a cockeyed Pakistani woman and made my way to the waiting area adjacent to the departure gate for Rome. Choosing the chair farthest from anyone already seated, I tried to discern who would be in my study abroad program. Thumbing my nametag, I debated putting it on as I had been instructed, but I couldn’t quite justify changing my look from “savvy world traveler” to member of a juvenile field trip.
Most weeks my writings resemble the works of acclaimed Vanity Fair diarist Dominic Dunne. For this column, though, I decided to class it up. Abigail Van Buren was my inspiration, because I too am technically unqualified, but am wonderfully apt to dole advice to the perplexed masses. Like Abby I also insist on having my glamour shot next to my article to prove that I am, indeed, real and that you can trust in my beautiful face. The following are verbatim questions and concerns from Cornell students and faculty.
My niece firmly believes that her 19-year-old male cousin tastes like chocolate and smells like cotton candy. She personally verifies that this has not changed every time she sees him. Even for a five year old, I find her to be rather bizarre; thus, she fits in well with the rest of my family.