Ramblings from our week on vacation

This year, as in years past, we rented a house near the beach with a pool.  I like having a pool because there are no currents, rip tides or undertows.  With a pool, I don’t have to watch my loved ones drift helplessly away in a strong undertow as I try to swim against the tide to rescue them.  I can just jump into a finite pool of water and drag them to safety.  And this year, it was a salt-water pool (it still has chlorine, but less).

Still, for me, the ocean and its sounds are a lullaby to my sometimes sad and tired soul,  Except, of course, when SOS is swimming in it.  Then, it becomes this mercurial power, able to allow young children to frolic one moment, and drag them out of reach in a fit of anger the next.  I never thought of the sea this way until I became a mom. Then, I remember what a lunatic MOB was about the ocean and her children.  And I know whence the neurosis (psychosis) comes.

Back story: MOB wrote letters to our camp director every summer, complete with clippings, about tragedies that happened at summer camps.  To be fair, lifeguards had to rescue my sister from an powerful undertow while on a camp beach trip in the early 70s.

These letters started as the neurotic rantings of a crazed mom (can’t you do something about the waves at the beach? Tuna fish sandwiches are unsafe if left unrefrigerated for even a MINUTE).

But over twelve years and three Blogger family children having survived camp, they morphed into amusing missives that the camp director enjoyed getting by hand delivery on visiting day.

But those letters did cause tense moments for me.  On visiting days, I was not allowed near water, even a puddle.  I was allowed to play tennis, volleyball and do arts and crafts.  No softball (MOB sent clippings of kids dying from getting smacked in the head by a baseball or softball), no water sports, or anything else that might cause MOB to write a SECOND letter in one summer.

Yet, one visiting, the only option for the first activity was “tippy canoe” (where we canoed out to the middle of the lake, tipped the canoe over and then swam under the canoe to breathe in the air pocket that was created).  In front of the entire camp, the camp director, bellowed, “[Blogger], are you SURE your mother is not coming until the second activity?”  When I nodded yes, she continued, looking at the counselors, “This young lady needs at least two more life preservers than necessary because if her mother is early . . . . ” She trailed off as if everyone knew that the consequences would be the end of life as we know it.

Now, back to the present:

SOS loves the ocean and we let him frolic, but under watchful eyes looking for the slightest change in the tides.  And he ate some serious sand when he wiped out on his boogie-board a few times. He can get scraped up and bruised, even have a lot of water up his nose.  He just cannot drown.

But, thank G-d, he is perfectly happy in a pool.  And I love cement-enclosed, stagnant water (West Nile virus, be damned!), although I actually check the filtration system daily to make sure the water is cleaned.  Call me crazy, because everyone else does.

So, we do a little bit of both, pool and ocean.  And he doesn’t need to know the fear behind these watchful, loving eyes. Until he is old enough to read this blog.

Vacation with a 9 year old

Vacation with a 9 year-old is an oxymoron, because vacation implies relaxation.   So, let’s call it a trip to the beach.

There are high points and low, low points.  I would like to think that we are both having growth spurts — he is maturing and I am becoming a more patient parent.

Elements of salvation:

  1. sunny days,
  2. a house with a pool,
  3. a steep driveway (awesome for scootering WITH HELMET and various other protective gear),
  4. wi-fi (that was an unexpected bonus),
  5. evening TV (Scooby-Doo mysteries), and
  6. wine.

Did I mention wine?  G-d’s elixir.



Our [rental] house is a very, very fine house.  Wait for it . . .  yes!  Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mst5ln5AAqI

Except it has a buffalo skull and a shot gun over the fireplace.  A gun?  a GUN?  A GUN?  Omigod, that thing could kill a person!!!

More about this later, but first:

Thursday was a crazy day.  I kept thinking this sounds like a movie, “A Boy, His Friends, Their Dogs, A Cousin and Assorted Adults”.  Our dear friends and their kids and their two chihuahuas were still without power after Hurricane.  5 DAYS.  Camping out at home cannot be that much fun even if you are outdoorsy people like they are.  (And if you are an indoorsy person like me, a minute in suburbia is too much contact with nature.)

We told our friends to pack up everything in the car and come over.  We were happy to have them.  If their power hadn’t come on while they were over on Thursday, we insisted that they would stay with us through the weekend.

We helped unload the car when they arrived.  In came the ice chest that they have been schlepping around with their perishables, as well as non-perishables that no Jew could live without: garlic, onions and antacids.  They stopped off at a farmer’s market, so when they walked in, one said in way so reminiscent of my grandparents, “we brought such a sweet melon, we should eat it right away!!”  And the stuff kept coming:  the beds for the dogs, the beach and swim gear. . . It was amazing.  It reminded me of when my family used to pack up to go to our weekend house, and my father would look at all of the stuff and say, “we could travel to Europe for six months with less!”

Once the unpacking was complete, I offered alcohol, homemade potato salad (delicious, really), or whatever else would make the adults calm and happy.  They just wanted to turn on and off the lights and keep flushing the toilets.  After five days, this woooosh sound is apparently as soothing as waves at the beach.

Then our nephew and sister-in-law came over.  Three young boys in one house for a “play date”.  Three boys looking longingly at the rifle.  Testosterone on full display.

Oy, Oy, Oy, Oy, Oy, Oy,  “It’s for show”.  “It doesn’t fire.”  “It is ORNAMENTAL.”

That’s what these boys hear from an overabundance of mothers and an absence of fathers.  Do they believe us?  They better, else the rifle will be the least of their worries.  The boys know this but can’t help but focus on the real rifle that we say is ornamental.  Let me take a moment to reflect on the little sleep I have gotten knowing there is a gun in the house. I need another vacation in a Quaker commune to make up for this.

Power was restored in our friends’ house, so we packed EVERYTHING back into the car.  What a monumental task.  It jogged another memory of my Dad’s also telling the doormen of our apartment building that we weren’t really going away only for a weekend; we were actually moving out west to start a farm but since we don’t know anything about farming, we needed to bring a year’s worth of food.

Friday was a relaxing day.  SNOBFOB (see prior blogs about the Alternate View) invited us over for dinner at her house in the area.  What a fabulous, relaxing evening.  SOS (our son, source of sanity) thinks SNOBFOB is awesome and loved looking at the moon and stars from her deck.  He also loved that SNOBFOB let him explore the house.  And a specially made cheeseburger, potato chips and vanilla ice cream just made a little boy soooo happy.  “E-Mom, I like your friends.”  “Thanks, buddy.”  “We can go back tomorrow if you like.”  “Buddy, we have to wait for an invitation first.”  “But [SNOBFOB] said we could come over any time!!”  “Dude, we are going to bask in the glow of having been good guests for a little while.”  “Mommy, what is E-Mom talking about?”

Saturday, another chill out day.  The pool.  The beach.  The pool.  Rest hour after lunch.  The pool.

We had our nephew, POB’s (partner of blogger’s) sister and POB’s father over for dinner.  Again, three little boys over, although the 84 year-old one was slow moving and just wanted to watch the Mets game.  The two boys played in the pool before dinner. And we played basketball in the driveway.  So much fun.  POB got it on tape and she promised me that there is no footage of my slightly thickening waistline.

It was a lovely day.  The COB (colleague of blogger) sent me a message on Facebook making sure I knew that a pile of stuff awaited me upon my return.  The COB was being funny and I got the humor.  Still, I logged off Facebook.

Today is our last full day here. . . .

Another day, another blogcation opportunity

Our staycation ended today.  We drove out east to the beach.  Lovely house with pool and most all of the amenities.

Not our style, but POB (partner of blogger) pronounced the kitchen “remarkably ungross” and the bathrooms “spotless”.  For those of my college friends reading this, POB said even a certain person who lives in Newburyport (NFOB) would cook in this kitchen without blow-torching it first.  Some of you may feel the need to come out and see the vacation house that even NFOB would like.  We will take pictures of the sinks, oven, refrigerator and toilets so you can wait until the reunion photo collage.

SOS (source of sanity) could barely hold back from jumping into the pool.  The delay of unpacking his bathing suit was almost more than he could bear.  “Can’t I skinny dip?”  (What is with boys and swimming in the nude?)  Pressing back against the tide of the generation of instant gratification, we made sure that he took the time to find his bathing suit.  Parenting is in the details.  Ok, parenting is in the nagging about the details.

The pool has a slide which SOS pronounced “awesome”.  Hours of enjoyment ensued.  (Tomorrow, his cousin and some other of his friends in the area are coming over to play and have dinner.)

Later, we took a walk along the beach.  Just beautiful.

Now, I am pretending to know how to grill.  Take-out anyone?


We are heading out tomorrow for vacation.  So, today, was the last day of staycation.  It was a gorgeous day in New York City today.  After POB (partner of blogger) came back from the gym, I got ready for my run and 2 hours of mindlessness.

As I left POB and SOS (our son, source of sanity), they were fighting over the TV remote control, because POB wanted to watch the rest of Phineas and Ferb (Dr. Doofenshmirtz’s embarrassing high school tape and the importance of the aglet — ok, you had to see it) and SOS wanted to watch something about swamp monsters.  Ah, a typical day in Paradise.

I only run because it is quick and easy (I stop shortly after starting).  And, clearly, I don’t run very far.  And running doesn’t accurately portray that which I do, which is a lazy, and somewhat resentful stumble. To the casual observer, I might be late for an appointment and haplessly jogging, all the while looking over my shoulder to see if a cab were coming.

But my knees and my back hurt, even from this pathetic display at athleticism.  So, a few weeks ago, I went to the Super Runners Shop and bought these crazy slipper-like sneakers that are supposed to make me run toe-heel, toe-heel, toe-heel.  Apparently, heel-toe, heel-toe, heel-toe is bad for aging knees and backs.

So I tried toe-heel and for a while (ok, three minutes) I felt great — I was using my calf muscles and I got into a toe-heel, toe-heel, toe-heel groove.  Actually, I couldn’t figure out about the heel thing.  So I was doing toe toe toe toe toe toe toe.  My ankles hurt and what do you do with your heel?

These shoe-slippers of Mercury (or Hermes, depending on your preferred mythology) were just a waste of money, although my calves have some definition (if you use a magnifying glass).  Ok, so these were for super runners.  I need shoes for stupid runners.

I went back to the shop wearing my fab footwear and asked for something with some cushion and a little less emphasis on what hits the ground first.  If I am running fast, the balls of my feet hit first.  If I am jog-running, who the hell really knows.

So I have new running (ok, schlepping) shoes.  The least offensive color combination was white and hot pink.  And that required me to pay more (of course).  But I figure the pink will be an important feminine counterpoint to my accidentally severe haircut (IFOB (Italian friend of blogger), I will never let you live this down).

(Janet Napolitano (US Secretary of Something), I hope you are reading this.  You need an emergency hair style consult.) 

Then I napped and, since we had a rental car, we were off to the BIG Fairway on 125th Street, where you could spend the gross domestic product of a third world nation on what we term “essentials”.  And we were stocking up for the beach in case supplies were still short in Hurricane affected areas.

Stores that big scare me and I was getting a little unhinged as POB was discussing the pros and cons of a new blend with the coffee guy.  Also, POB is a comparison shopper.  Even in the Cold Room (the room where the temperature is below 40 degrees so that fewer refrigeration units are necessary).  I am in a t-shirt and we are shivering and POB wants to compare the prices of various organic yogurts.  REALLY?  REALLY?  REALLY?  Is this vacation or is this hell?  Would I rather be checking my work email in the warmth than comparing biotic statistics and price of yogurt in a subzero room?  At this point, I am thinking that a run even in my toe toe toe toe toe toe shoes from hell seems like an inviting activity.

I guess the point is (do I ever have a point and does that matter?) that tomorrow we start a vacation.  And we are all really glad about it.

Vacation Day 1

Actually, vacation started last night (we like to keep to a Hebrew calendar and start holidays at sundown).

POB (partner of blogger) and our son (now known as our collective Source of Sanity, SOS) are already out of town on our family vacation (too long of a back story).

I was really, really tired.  I wanted to disconnect and decompress, so I watched a Phineas and Ferb marathon (courtesy of our DVR).  The riff the writers did on the Mexican-Jewish Festival at the local Jewish Center was hysterical.  Also as funny was the skit about Phineas and Ferb as detectives out of the Maltese Falcon, Dragnet and then CSI:Miami.  I know, I know, it is a cartoon for kids, but it is far superior to most things on TV.  Still, it would be hard to watch it if you didn’t have a kid.  And you need to watch a few to get into the groove.  But I digress.

I spoke with POB and SOS and then got into my jammies.  It was 9pm.

I slept until 10am this morning.  I was tooo lazy to make fresh coffee, so I drank cold coffee from the fridge.  I waited until 10:30 to look at my blackberry. I thought that was pretty damn healthy for someone with my level of neurosis.

I alternated between Phineas and Ferb and Bloomberg on the Markets, as I read the paper.  The paper and the markets were depressing and P&F was over.  I dragged myself to the gym.  It was about 11:15am.  It was already raining but I went on a short run just to get my adrenaline going.

First words of the day, spoken to the barista at Le Pain Quotidien on Broadway: “Iced double espresso, please.” Aaaah, VACATION.

I don’t use an iPod anymore at the gym.  I feel a little to isolated when I do that.  Unfortunately, today, the shows on the TV monitors featured the hunt for Qaddafi, Hurricane Irene and Warren Buffett.  Ok, not relaxing.  So, I try to focus on other things.  Not so much going on at the gym on a random Thursday morning, so my attention drifts back to the TVs.  Somehow I think this relaxation thing should be easier.

I leave for a nap.  This vacation thing is starting to work.

I have stress dreams about forgetting to go to classes and having to read everything on the syllabus in one night.  Ok, so I checked my blackberry and sent some emails.  Ok, my love-hate with vacation is more volatile than the stock markets.

So, vacation is not a cold turkey kind of experience.  I need to eeeeeeeeeaaase into it.

I go back to the gym (I was raised to be an over-achiever) and lift weights and, in my best yoga position, breathe in good oxygen and expel bad humors.

All this does is make me hyperventilate. “Why,” you ask?  HOW CAN YOU ASK WHY? Don’t you read the paper, watch the markets and look at the Hurricane warnings?

Of course, I can’t really relax.  POB and SOS are staying at her father’s beach house with her sister and our nephew.  Right in the path of Hurricane Irene.  As is the house we are renting next week.

POB and I have a wedding to go to on Saturday evening in Westchester.  The original plan was for POB to leave SOS with my sister-in-law and nephew on Friday and we would pick him up once we settled into our beach house rental on Sunday.

I am ready to call it Hurricane Irene a disaster that requires us to change our plans.  I want my family, and my sister-in-law and nephew to come back to NYC and stay until the storm passes.

The problem of course is that people don’t believe the media anymore because media hypes everything for ratings.  Like the boy who cried wolf.  But, I don’t care.  I am willing to be wrong on this because there is no victory in being right.  And I will just rant against corporate-controlled media in a blog entry.  Win-win situation.

Of course, when I went shopping, I didn’t really stock up on much, except some expensive tap water labeled as natural spring water and lychee fruit, which are refreshing and a pain to eat.  I guess I am not a good natural disaster shopper. That’s why POB needs to come back.  She knows what to do.

Ok, maybe this vacation thing gets more relaxing once you get into a groove and natural disasters are out of the way.  So far, I think it would be more relaxing to be at work . . . .


Home, Sweet Home

It is good to be home after a trip.  The usual routine seems less rut-like and more welcoming.  G-d is in the details.

I started uploading our pictures.  I had to laugh at the fake gladiator resting against the wall of the Colosseum talking on a cell phone.  Now that is time-warp whiplash.  Or the picture of TLP (our son, the little prince) under pictures of John Paul II and Benedict — I asked TLP to stand there, because as Jewish mothers, he is the closest we come to G-d’s representative on earth.  Of course, we stumbled upon the Italian national headquarters of the Hare Krishna and so we had to take a picture.  My favorite is the picture of the priestly vestments store.  Very pricey.  Who knew that poor priests had such style and flair.  Must be an Italian thing.

Speaking of which, there are 4 times the number of men’s clothing stores than women’s clothing stores.  Or so it seemed.  The men are beautifully dressed, except for the shoes.  Surprising, but true.  Also, the saleswomen in shops insisted that I try sizes 8 or 10 even though I am at most a 4 or 6.  What was that about?? I know I was dressed for comfort and looked dressed-down, but really??  Were they punishing me for being a fashion disaster in the country that makes fashion?  I guess so.  I think they were telling me that even a potato sack (which is how the clothes fit me) would look better than my outfit (it really wasn’t so bad — jeans, suede jacket, sneakers).

Anyway, Sunday night family dinner chez nous and it was wonderful to have everyone over.  A recently re-discovered cousin now joins us periodically.  He is a bird nerd, like TLP and HOSOB (husband of sister of blogger).  Everyone else’s eyes glaze over when they talk about rose-ringed something and a hooded other-thing.  But it is great to expand the family table.  Everyone talked with Italian accents for the first hour in honor of our homecoming.

Anyway, it is good to be home.  I need to plan the next trip.

The Travel Gods Must be Crazy

The travel gods are mercurial sorts.  I should have made a few sacrifices at the Pantheon before we left.

So we arrive at the airport with plenty of time to spare, which came in handy because the security people needed to go through all of our luggage and examine POB’s (partner’s of blogger) cosmetics.   We looked like terrorists, indeed.

We arrived at the gate with an hour to spare, because we really wanted to get home and because TLP (our son, the little prince) loves watching planes take off and land.  At the gate, we found out that the flight was delayed for 2 hours.  No explanation.  Really?  Really?  Wasn’t the ride to Rome punishment enough?  No, apparently.  It was two hours delayed but we weren’t boarding for FOUR hours.  La dolce vita it seems to apply to airports and air traffic.  Everyone takes a midday break.

Still it is too early to call DOB (Dad of blogger) to let him know we are late.  He worries until we call that we have touched down safely.  We always thought that it was Mom who obsessed about our safety.  It turns out, Dad was right there with her, worrying. (I called him as soon as we were on the cab line at the airport and he was so happy.)

There were 65 Catholic school girls on our flight.  Hazard of going to Rome, I guess.  They all had to board together and have all of their documents together.  Ok that would have been comical if we weren’t tired of waiting to get home.  Also seeing Brother Joseph, in his robe and rope tie regalia, lose his temper a little.  I did notice his saying the rosary a lot — although, being Jewish, I really have no idea what he was doing but I can venture a guess.

As we passed through the gate attendant, a woman said to me, “I have to check your bag.”

I responded, “It is carry-on.”

“I don’t understand what you say, but I MUST check your bag.”

We are NOT checking luggage!” I say.  I am pissed.  We have been waiting too long and I am going to throw on the floor anyone’s stuff that is in our overhead bins.

After this Abbott and Costello stand-off, someone comes over and says “for security reasons, she must check.  random check.”

OOOoooooooooooooooh.  I was pleasant and accommodating after that, but she really gave me a thorough pat-down, although as I am told not as enhanced as in the US.  Although she did really get high up on the inside of my legs.  About the only thing she didn’t do was feel my breasts.

We had the seats at the back of the plane.  Row 42.  (Damn, this recession.)  Any further back, we would be sitting in the flight attendants’ laps.  At least, TLP had easy access to the bathrooms.  AND, we were not in the middle of the 65 school girls, although I had to tell one to stop taking pictures of another passenger as he slept.  She kept trying to talk to him and he kept in his ear phones.  She didn’t take a hint.  A future stalker.  The whole experience felt like high school recess.

After 10 hours on the plane (way too long) we winded our way to immigration.  We came to the officer together.  I said we are coming together, because we are a family.

You are a family?”  He asked.


Who are the parents?”  So much for the laws of certain states recognizing gay unions and adoption.

“We are,” POB and I said together.

Who is the child?”

We both point to TLP. (The only one it could be.)

The officer says, “Are these your parents?”

TLP nodded.   He looked at us again.  Seconds seemed like minutes.

“Welcome home.”

Phew.  We were so tired that I feared that neither POB or I would have the coping mechanisms to deal with this situation had it gone differently.

We got up at 7am (Rome time) and it was 2am the next day (Rome time) by the time we got home. Fresh Direct was waiting because POB placed the order from Rome so we would have food.  For once I wish she weren’t so efficient and forward-looking.

TLP was fabulous but he did say more than once that he is never flying again.

Life is good when you go to sleep in your own bed.

The trip was fabulous.  Click this link for the travel company.  I just hope you all have better air travel karma.

Last Day (and Last Supper)

You would think that I had enough self-respect not to make a reference to the Last Supper.  But I don’t.

Before I start on today’s adventures, I must mention that during the visit to the Jewish Ghetto, we stopped at the Piazza del 13th (?) del Ottobre. (Sorry, IFOB, that I butchered the name of the plaza.)  It is the place where the Nazis rounded up the Jews and took them to Auschwitz on October 13th (?), 1943.  We were standing in the piazza and, as if on cue, a police car passes nearby, blaring Anne Frank noise (eeeeee-awwwwwww eeeeee-awwwwwww).  It is the sound that makes every Jew shutter.  The ambulances have a different noise, I noticed (eeeee-eeeee  eeeee-eeeee).  Now I have completed the tale of devastation and triumph of world Jewry.  Phew.

Today, our only aim was to shop.  Shop for things that are made here in Rome and not in Milan or elsewhere.  And of course look in the churches and walk in the piazzas along the way.  That is one thing about Rome, a church on every corner and lovely piazzas.  There is even an Episcopal Church that had Irish dancers and a bagpipe outside, trying to get worshippers to come inside.  Now that is a tough sell in the seat of Roman Catholicism.

So not a lot of things made in Rome.  We had to search out artsy areas, a hard thing for foreigners because it is so easy to get lost in Rome.  And, I get bored of shopping in less than an hour.  POB (partner of blogger) wanted to shop and so TLP (our son, the little prince) and I had to schlep along.  Mind-numbing and exhausting.  Some things but nothing really.  Milan would be the city for shopping.

So, nothing really absurd or crazy happened today.  We found some groovy areas that we would love to visit next time.

TLP had a great time in spite of his pre-trip whinings.  POB relaxed by mid-week despite her stress about traveling.  I got stressed as the week went on, because I was almost totally out of touch with everything in the US.  I did check in with the office daily and my secretary and colleague texted me as necessary.  I heard snippets of news — Dow tumbled on oil supply fears and not because of a massacre in Tripoli, Berlusconi’s Bill Clinton problems, Obama’s not defending DOMA anymore.  Other than the massacre, I really don’t care.  Monday I will care.

I think this means I actually had a vacation.  A real vacation.  But wait, the journey home is tomorrow.  So, I shouldn’t jinx it.

Roma, Thursday

Today we wandered a bit en route to the Jewish Ghetto.  We walked on meandering streets to the Tiber River and found our way to the Ghetto. We walked up to Capitoline Hill. We were a little lost until TLP (our son, the little prince) said, “this is Capitoline Hill.  I recognize it from our tour the other day and the map.”  POB (partner of blogger) and I looked at each other and sighed.  I guess we don’t have to worry about our child’s intellectual development.

IFOB (Italian friend of blogger) calls it the Jewish Quarter.  Euphemistic.  If an area was walled off with only day passes to the City, it was a ghetto.  A ghetto is a ghetto.  It was long ago and now the Jews of Rome thrive, with 15 synagogues.  We saw the two old synagogues and plaques from Roman times. But being Jews, we have to pick at the scabs of the past.  We have to wallow in the persecution.  All in, it took about 4 hours to recite the indignities since the 2nd century.  That was exhausting.

We had a kosher lunch.  That just means it is even more expensive than Rome generally and everything is overcooked.  IFOB gave us a suggestion for an eatery, but after the recitation of our people’s trials and tribulations we barely crawled to the first place we saw.  There was a sink and the blessing and men in yarmulkes.  All in Italian.  Very cool. A man came over to us and complimented us on how well behaved TLP was.  We were beaming, as in beatification beaming.  TLP got extra gelato.

We saw the four lesbians from the Jewish museum at the restaurant.  They were hard to miss in either place.  The particularly masculine one was flirting with a beautiful woman who worked at the museum.  The woman was clearly flirting back.  I was intrigued but my job as a Jew was to relive the painful past, so I didn’t have time for interesting side stories.  (IFOB: I am being my usual over-the-top self, so don’t be alarmed.  We really don’t going into excruciating details about the past.  We usually conflate a few centuries to save time.)

Then, we walked through various piazzas and along side streets where open doors showed courtyards and beautiful buildings.  Truly magical, as long as no one runs you over.

We took a bus to the Sistine Chapel and TLP survived, barely.  He is not a Raphaelite or a fan of Michelangelo or Titian.  I told him that I am not either, but one has to appreciate the art and the extraordinary talent and skill that is evident.  We took the subway back.  TLP was in transportation Heaven.

We napped and went shopping.  Then off to dinner, in a quiet restaurant. That is, until the LARGE, LARGE group of American adults and children came in.  Three huge tables.  And one of the adults thought it was appropriate in a public place to give a LOUD, VERY LOUD toast to the group’s leaders.  All the English speaking people in the restaurant looked on, stunned and gobsmacked.  The Italians also were talking, and I am sure not in the most glowing terms about the Americans.  One group of kids was being loud and I turned around and said, “Really? Really?  You think this is appropriate?”  They were silent.  Phew.  It could have backfired.

There was one family from the UK also in the restaurant.  They looked similarly distressed at the large (did I mention, LARGE), loud group. As we passed their table on the way out, I looked at the mother and said simply, “Oy.”  She held up her hand and we high-five’d.  Now, THAT’S international communication.

Another great day in Rome.