Sunday, June 28, 2009

Flashback: Torino to Trapani

Here's a little something I wrote on the plane from Torino to Trapani...

The Italians turned a 90 minute flight from Torino to Trapani into happy hour. No one read; no one slept. We were the only English speakers, which made the frequent bilingual updates almost comical. People made new friends, discovered mutual connections, and fought charmingly with spouses and relatives. Men wearing tight, tapered leg pants and gold accented sneakers leaned cavallierly with one arm bent on the overhead compartment. The top five buttons on their shirts were decorations, rather than functional, and tufts of chest hair were visibly entangled wtih thick gold chains. These Cassanovas filled the aisles, backsides jutting out proudly, as they boasted of their travels, their jobs, or their mama's cooking. Young mothers walked toddlers up the runway, for the nonni to admire and compare to their own. High school girls used what my teacher self would call their 'outdoor voices' as they yelled across the aisles to their friends. The only time their voices lowered was when they caught the eye of those handsome, chesty men. And then, it was all giggles. I tried to keep focused on reading my Italian lessons, but the real-life classroom ahead of me was just too interesting. Mark and I often turned to each other, grinning. We didnt even need to speak.

When the flight crew came down the aisles to offer food or shopping magazines, the Italians eyed them narrowly, as if intruders. The passengers seldom moved aside, forcing the stewardesses to step around babies, bags, and bottoms. When the pilot came on to announce landing, the chatter paused for a fleeting moement, but then resumed as the men continued to wave around their hands passionately, throw their heads back, and fill the cabin with belly laughter. After several minutes of prodding by the airline crew, the people casually made their way back to a seat, making it seem like the whole movement had been their idea. When the plane started a more rapid decent, the cabin lights went out. Again, a split second lull in the din and then as if on cue, the individual reading lights went on and the screaming baby could barely be heard over the booming voices of the men now yelling to those they were previously charming.

The plane landed clumsily, bouncing and screetching to a halt, certainly not a laudable finish by most measures. But for the Italians, it marked the end of a successful journey. And for that, they cheered loudly.

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