It was a summer of firsts for Genoveva: first time she ironed … in fifteen years, first time she spoke her flash Italian skills to the general traveling public in a busy buffet restaurant and it was the first time in over twenty-two years that her natural blonde locks came through. Not sure which was the worst of the lot, Genoveva decided to let the blonde shine on though for the duration of the summer. She was in fact, so busy with her new Italian waitressing job that she didn’t have the time to fuss with her lengthening blonde locks; a ponytail would have to suffice.
In a dusty dresser drawer she found a new-ish pair of dress pants. Black as per restaurant protocol with a super large flare at the bottom. They reminded her of the 60’s; the free love era, where everyone and their dog wore bell bottoms. She whined to her Sardinian husband “Nobody wears bell bottoms … in Italy! Do you think these are okay for work? I’m pretty sure I will be the laughing-stock of Sardinia. Canadian girl in bell bottoms … honey … are you listening?”
He was listening, listening again to his wife’s ramble about clothes. He didn’t care what she wore as long as she went to work. “Sono belle, non si preoccupi. Nessuno sta guardando i pantaloni, più si ha che super-sexy grembiule rosa che copra le gambe.” It was true; Genoveva did have to wear a long apron which fell to her knees. She pranced around their loft in her new waitressing uniform, feelings of elation at a new exciting job – serving the public … in Italian.
“What about the button down shirt? Do you think my boss will notice that I bought it at the Chinese shop in Tempio? I mean the cute Chinese woman DID cut the long sleeves off, and then re-sewed short sleeves! How weird! Look … honey … LOOK! I don’t know if this can pass, heck she cut and sewed all in a matter of minutes. How can someone do that so fast? Honey …?”
She studied the conditional present of volere (to want) for hours before her first night shift and until the back of her tongue stuck to the top of her mouth, trying desperately to get those r’s out. “Che cosa vorreste? Or … honey … should I say che cosa volete?” A loud grumble came from the tool shed, in English this time “Say what you want, don’t worry.”
She worried about her bell bottom pants making the local gossip column; she worried about the iron job on her €10 Chinese cut-job shirt and she worried about speaking Italian to Italian people who pay mega bucks to park their expensive selves in the dining-room. “Honey, I’m ready! Ajo! Let’s go. I need to be there early. It’s not a good sign if I show up perfectly on the hour. Twenty minutes early is good. Ajo! AJO!” He opened the rusty car door for her and she sat down with a heavy sigh. A popular song danced in her head; it’s the same song that appears every time she is slightly stressed “Don’t worry, ‘bout a ting. Cause every little ting, gonna be alright.”
Later that evening …
“Honey, I’m home! And I have to pee really bad!” She ran past her husband who was sound asleep on the sofa and into the en-suite bathroom. She was too happy, too excited; floating even. Everything went oddly perfect on her first Italian dinner shift and it didn’t bother her when she joined English and Italian words. She spoke Italian to English clients and English to Italian clients, the customers got a kick out of her; they asked her where she is from, what brought her to Sardinia, oh … love, they all understood, that was why they were on holiday in the first place – rekindling dead romance. She even managed to snag a €10 tip from one table visiting from Venice. They were very sun-tanned and Genoveva made a mental note to up the sunscreen. At least the €10 Edward Scissor hands button down shirt was paid for.
“Oh, honey I really like it there. I know it was my first night and all, everyone is so nice … OH MIO DIO … WHAT THE WHAT?!? NOOOOOOO!” Her elation quickly disappeared as she looked into the seat of her bell bottom pants while sitting on the throne. A split … a BIG split that ran all the way from the front zip to the back of her bell bottom pants.
“HONEY! MY. PANTS. ARE. SPLIT. RIGHT. DOWN. THE. ENTIRE. CRACK! OH MY G..!” Embarrassment washed over her already hot body and a tear made its way down her sweaty right cheek. Moments of the night flashed though her pulsating veins; she remembered the hostess having a keen eye on her behind; she remembered bending over (from the waist) to pick up a crate of water, she remembered a moment when she was wedged between two tables rambling on in Ital-ish. Genoveva thought that maybe the hostess was a lesbian or that her boss was the pervy kind as he offered a huge smile and a helping hand with the crate of water. She thinks back to the tip that slipped slyly into her long apron, an apron which covered her bell bottom pants, an apron which should have covered everything … well almost everything.
Genoveva’s husband awoke from his slumber, he turned off the TV and walked into the bathroom to greet his hysterical wife “What colour are your underwear?”
“Nudo! OH MIO D … NUDO.” She shrieked in angst, pain and embarrassment. Her husband rolled into bed, in fits of Sardinian laughter.
Without realizing it Genoveva’s bell bottom pants went down in Italian restaurant history.
Stay tuned for more tales from Canadian Waitress in Italy.