A Culturally Broadening Experience

October 26, 2008 in Europe, Italy, Travelogue

< ![CDATA[  You know you’re really bonding with new friends when you find yourself wearing their clothes at the end of the day. After a week with Marcello and Margherita and their irish setter, Ambra, we’re starting to feel like family... how I ended up in Marcello’s clothes is a longer story: We spent the morning resting. The kids helped Margherita make fruit salad and I spent too long on the internet sorting out our imminent arrival in Tunisia. They insisted we rest in anticipation of an afternoon outing: a fun run with their local chapter of the Hash House Harriers. Having never heard of the Hash House Harriers and being game for any new experience, our interest was piqued... and the kids look for any excuse to run. If you’re not a “Hasher” already then I don’t even know how to explain it to you. Take a group twenty of the most randomly different folks you can imagine, from three continents, speaking at least five languages (although I expect many more) from at least three continents and you’ve got the crowd we found gathered on the rooftop terrace this afternoon. The “run” is a cross between a treasure hunt and a light jog, which can actually be a walk if you want it to. In actual fact, the run seems to be an excuse to sing silly songs, drink a lot of beer and pour flour over a poor, unsuspecting new initiate afterwards. It might be best to google the organization if you’d like to know more. All I can tell you is that people run these little races every week in over 3000 cities all over the world and have done so since 1938... who knew?! One attendee leaned in and summed it up nicely, “Some people say we’re a drinking club with a running problem.” It seemed as good a description as any. So, we ran... well, the kids ran, we walked, and talked with the other “Hashers” as we went. It was a delightful, and educational, way to spend a hot Roman afternoon. The kids were the hit of the day and were very happy to hold court and accept far too many chips and sodas from the other runners. And me, I danced with the old men. This seems to be one of my callings, dancing with old men. They find me wherever I go, whether there is music or not. This particular set took joy in teaching Margherita and I folk dances from every country they could think of and even sang the songs to which we danced. Charming, to say the least. One particularly persistent dancer pulled Tony into a Turkish circle dance, “Here, I’ll stand here and grab the girls... you stand over there on the other side of your wife!” “GOOD IDEA!” replied Tony, with a firm hand on my arm and a twinkle in his eye. He’s well on his way to being an old man himself. By the time we got home we were all hot and tired, the kids were washed, Margherita’s “Plan B” was initiated, (Plan A was Snow White, but it turns out Marcello doesn’t have it so we substituted another) laundry was started and pizza was ordered. With everyone settled I asked Marcello if it was okay to shower with the laundry machine running... “Oh yes, no problem, only less pressure.” Music to my ears. It was my screaming that brought the men running to the bathroom. All seemed well, I was clean, the water was still warm... and then I turned to get my towel: it was wet. So were my clothes. So were my jammies. So was the whole floor, in fact, at least an inch deep and running out the bathroom door. Why do these things always happen to me? At home I am always the one to flush the downstairs bathroom at the precise moment that my mother’s washer drains, constituting a huge flood on the main floor. This talent has pursued me to Italy, it seems. So here I was, dripping wet, standing in the shower, hollering for my husband (which of course brought Marcello running too.) I stood in a camping towel for a good ten minutes while the bathroom was being mopped around me before Margherita noticed my plight and offered me some clothes (every stitch I own is now wet.) So this is how I came to be in another man’s clothing, in a second floor apartment in Rome, having danced the afternoon away with strange old men who’d poured beer on their heads. Today has been a “culturally broadening experience.”]]>