Bryan and I were able to sit on the other side of the table (metaphorically speaking) last week when we made a trip to the Motherland. We hadn't been to my ancestral village for a while, and my cousin was anxious for us to come for a Sunday pranzo.
We had a nice visit and a nice meal (always yummy down there). Following the feast, we sat at the restaurant urgently trying to fend off Michele's unyielding insistence of "grappa, more wine, just a little more dessert..." when a group of ten arrived. They exchanged customary buongiornos, milled about deciding which table in the nearly-empty restaurant to occupy, and started inquiring about local specialties. Obviously not locals. Even if their ignorance of the food hadn’t clued me in, the fact that they weren't acquainted with with my cousin sealed it. He is the only cop in a town of 2,000 souls and everyone knows him.
“Turisti, qui?” I asked Melina. They don’t get a lot of out-of-towners, especially in the winter. But apparently a small, nearby ski slope attracts day-trippers from surrounding regions. “Pugliese,” she said matter-of-factly. After listening to them talk a few more minutes, she stated, “Yep, from Bari.” She pegged their accents. I, sadly, still cannot distinguish regional accents. I can often make out that they *have* an accent, but don’t know one region’s speech patterns from another’s.
One of the guys approached the table to ask where, specifically, they were. The one he chose to address his question to, as apparently looking the most knowing, was Bryan. Much to the glee of everyone else, since Bryan quickly informed the guy to ask the others, as he, being American, couldn’t give him the best advice on directions and road conditions. Word quickly reached the bar area in the neighboring room, and cackles of laughter filtered our direction.
As we walked through to leave, the barista slapped Bryan on the back, still snickering, muttering something about Baresi not being able finding their way out of a paper sack and then asking the only americano within a 100-mile radius for directions. As we left we heard the barista passing the word on to a newcomer, with fragments of the "stranieri" being addressed...towards the Baresi.
I felt a little bad for them; they seemed nice enough folks. But I have to admit, it was also nice to be sitting on the other side of the table for a change, to be the ones *in* on the joke instead of the objects of the jokes and speculations for a change. For this day, at least, the foreigners weren't us.