Friday, October 06, 2006

What's so interesting about men throwing balls at sticks?

This morning I woke to Xtina fussing about the bedroom, cursing the "damn metropolitane!" and agitating above me. Today is Friday, aka "strike day" or "lo sciopero" in Italy. The mass transit workers from toe to top, have planned a work action to paralyze the Italian machine of progress and force management back to the bargaining table. Ditto for the journalists. For good measure, Italian journalists are sitting out tomorrow too. In fact, this is the second straight weekend the Italian journalists have walked off the job, protesting the fact they are working under a lapsed contract. And so for today anyhow there will be no Italian tram drivers writing the news and no Italian journalists driving the trams. (All kidding aside, I have deep sympathy for the plight of Italian journalists. They work under difficult conditions, with or without a contract. But to strike on two straight Fridays and Saturdays? You're not earning too many sympathy points there, guys.)

I digress. It's this morning. Cristina. Agitating. Metropolitane!, she's complaining, now shaking me. It's not the tram drivers she's angry with. It's me. I woke this morning at 3:30 a.m. to catch the second half of the Mets game online. Xtina doesn't undertand why anybody would get up in the middle of the night to watch men throw a ball at a stick, as she says. She doesn't understand playoffs. She doesn't understand baseball. She doesn't understand my Mets rarely play a meaningful game in October. She doesn't even understand the term "Mets". "Metropolitans," I explained a few evenings prior. This is just after I casually mentioned I might be a bit sleep deprived come next week. "Come metropolitane," I explained, confusing myself now. Your favorite team is a commuter train, she wanted to know.

Italians don't understand our sports, nor our sport teams' name. Isn't the city enough? You need the city and a nickname?, they wonder. Excessive Americans. I don't want to hear it, of course. Since leaving the U.S., my big passion -- U.S. sports -- has been stifled. It's almost impossible, I find, to follow anything going on back home. Apparently, there's a scandal involving players taking performance-enhancing drugs. Phhhhhhhhhhhhht. Italians snicker at such child's play. Here, it's bribery, wire taps, match-fixing, suitcases full of cash exchanged in the middle of the night, coaches mysteriously falling off balconies to their death. And that's just the Vatican City intramural league. There are Italian kids, I'm told, who have posters of their favorite magistrates hanging on the wall, like the one who stripped the title from the mighty Juventus for paying off refs or relegated Napoli for cooking the books. (It must be noted that good ol' Ascoli plays fair, and thus they are doomed to mediocrity.)

But there's a bigger crisis at the moment. Xtina, with a big meeting today with other EU member states, couldn't fall back to sleep after the alarm sounded at 3:30. She tossed and turned all night, cursing the Metropolitane. She learned the phrase recently "on the rocks" and she's now using it liberally. At me. And my Metropolitans.

Mets in three, I predict. Otherwise, I'll be sleeping on the rocks.

No comments: