Thursday, November 11, 2010

Italian Lessons

One thing always leads to another. It's been one of those days for me. Seriously.

One of the more amazing experiences I had as a piano teacher was trying to teach a family of Sicilian immigrants. The father, Sal, owned two pizzerias with his brother and was doing quite well. He lived with his wife and two sons in a newly-built, upper middle class housing development and spoke mostly Italian in the home. La Sposa, a beautiful young woman with not a word of English in her mouth did all of her grocery shopping in Little Italy™ on their regular weekend shopping trips to New York. She bought only Italian products, and not just food products, but household cleaning products as well. My minimal Italian was enough to endear me to La Famiglia for life.

Sal was a quick study, and had a knack for the piano. His son Pietro, was another story. I just couldn't teach him anything.

Our lessons were always interrupted by Mamma, Skyping La Sposa from Palermo. Blah blah blah is the same in Italian as it is in English. Compounding La Sposa's need to talk to Mamma was the papagallo's endless squawking. Little brother Davide added to the decibel levels with his constant entreaties for me to play with him.

I came for their lessons one Monday, and walked into the kitchen to see La Sposa, her 4 sorellas and Mamma visiting from Sicily. 6 of them, sitting around the kitchen island, each holding a scratch-off lotto ticket in one hand, a quarter and a lit cigarette in the other. They blah-blahed with each other happily, as they tossed scratched tickets into a large pile in the middle of a table under a thick haze of cigarette smoke.

I smiled, said "Buon giorno come state mi chiamo Gioella sono la maestra ciao" and went down to the rec room to give Bambino and Babbo their piano lessons. Babbo was usually not present for his boy's lesson.

Poor Pietro. Every mistake proved he hadn't practiced, and Babbo smacked the back of his head while the boy howled at the injustice.They argued with each other in Italian, and the boy would make another attempt, fail, and invite more head smacks and curses upon himself for wasting Babbo's hard earned money. Needless to say, piano lessons soon ended. Neither Babbo nor Bambino learned to play the piano. I, on the other hand, learned a lot.

La vita รจ dolcissima, infatti! Grazie mille, Signor Sippicano!

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