I’m a computer programmer and am leaving this weekend on a two-week group trip to Tuscany with my buddy Tolly Tolliver who owns a villa just outside Casentino. It’s my second time abroad (first foreign trip was to Arizona a few years back), and I don’t want to look like the typical ugly American. My guidebook says that the best way to “blend in” is to learn the “local lingo.” I did an Internet search and came up with some good stuff like “Thanks,” “I’m sorry,” “Where is the —?”, and “I’m from America,” but wondered if you could suggest some useful cycling-related phrases. I know you’re a world traveler and good with languages, so any advice is greatly appreciated.
Apprehensively but with anticipation,
It will be an awesome trip. I’m green with envy. If anything is better than TELO or the Pier Ride, this is surely it. However, your attempts to blend in will be an abject failure. Just think of the Turkish immigrant on a rusty Huffy who speaks four words of badly accented English and how neatly he blends into the South Bay cycling scene. You and your group of Freddies ARE THAT GUY. You will mix in about as well as a hand grenade or a gasoline fire at a crowded nightclub. Possibly worse.
Moreover, you won’t be able to remember any of your native language, let alone Italian, when some skinny fuck who used to race the Giro back in the day is drilling your balls back into your abdominal cavity. All you’ll be able to do is hack, wheeze, hang onto the wheel if you’re lucky, and pray that the hangover ends before it’s time to start drinking again. If you ever learn to say anything cycling-related in Italian, it will be along the lines of “Can I puke here?” or perhaps “I’m too frail for this manly endeavor.”
In short, your best gambit is to pretend that you possess a tongue disability and are unable to speak any language at all other than cunnilingus. If you don’t know what that is, ask your wife. If she pretends not to know, it’s because she’s banging the UPS guy. Anyway, the minute you start butchering Italian they will take you for Amanda Knox’s father and charge you with her crimes in absentia. As a computer programmer you’re essentially dysfunctional in English anyway, so why in the world you’d try to learn a foreign language before being able to speak your own is beyond me.
If you’re still not dissuaded from this quixotic attempt to master a complex language five days before you depart, below is my stock of must-have phrases. Forget all the other crap in the guidebook. These work anywhere, in any country.
- Quanti anni ha tua figlia?
How old is your daughter?
- Questo è il mio pene.
That’s my penis.
- Io non so questi ragazzi
I don’t know these guys.
- Io non sono gay.
I’m not gay.
- Io sono gay.
- Posso fare una foto con lui qui?
Can I take a picture with it here?
- Mi dispiace. Tre minuti è abbastanza buono per me.
I’m sorry. Three minutes is pretty good for me.
- Quante volte ti abbiamo battuto in una guerra mondiale?
How many times did we kick your ass in a World War?
- Un altro bicchiere, per favore.
Another glass, please. (Keep repeating this until you pass out).