Awkward in another language

We are back from Italy and I’m feeling a bit better.  Whoop!

It was quite lovely though in spite of the depression and you can go to instagram to see all the pictures.  I’d put them all here but I’m still sort of in that level of recovery mode where everything is exhausting and you just want to stop breathing for a bit to conserve energy.

But one thing I didn’t put on Instagram is that to celebrate Hailey’s birthday we went to the opera in Venice, which is the fanciest fucking thing I’ve ever done in my entire life.

And we sat in our little opera box and looked over the balcony as the singers did their thing and at one point I was like, “OMG BUGS BUNNY DID THIS SONG!” and then Victor and Hailey sort of stared at me so I went back to listening but I guess Italians don’t believe in air conditioning and it was really warm and I was tired and I sort of fell asleep sitting up and I started to fall over and I woke up with such a start that I literally yelped and launched myself out of my seat and Hailey grabbed me because she thought I was going to leap over the edge of the balcony.  Long story short, we left immediately but in my defense we’d already been there for an hour and a half and it was barely even intermission.  And Hailey said that she felt dumb that we’d wasted our money and time on something that didn’t really do it for any of us but she and Victor spent the rest of our vacation endlessly mocking me for mortifying myself in the fanciest way ever so technically I think it was a very worthwhile experience.

Sometimes the most messed up moments make for the best memories.

PS.  Also, we had a driver take us to see the body of St. Zita in Lucca and when he asked where we were going I was like, “St. Zita” and he was like, “Pardon?”  And I said, “St. Zita” again and he was like, “Are you telling me to shut up?  Because that’s how you say ‘shut up’ in Italian”.   And then I felt really bad but a few minutes later he asked Victor, “Do you like the bitch?” and I was like, “First off, he loves this bitch and secondly that seems a little unnecessary” but turns out he was just asking if we wanted to see the beach and this is why I really need to learn how to speak the language more before I visit places.

88 thoughts on “Awkward in another language

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  1. I caused bedlam in two restaurants in Florence at the same time you were in Italy. You can read about it on my blog on Suffice it to say know what you order, and do t send stuff back.

  2. Opera is not for everyone….including myself…but to be able to say you went to the opera during a lovely Italian holiday would be fun. No need to mention the faux pas…

  3. Don’t feel dumb, Hailey! You never know if you’ll like something until you try it, yeah? Besides, now you guys have a story about how you were fancy enough to go to the opera in Italy even if you were bored to tears and didn’t like it. Also, you have a new reason to spend a lifetime giggling at your mom–that is ALWAYS worth it. Ask my mother about the Texas Roadhouse or my grandma about Lithuanian batteries. WE WILL NEVER FORGET.

    (BTW, I like opera, but I totally react that way y’all did to ballet. WTF is up with ballet? I mean, get it, but it just doesn’t do it for me, as you say. SAY SOMETHING, ASSHOLES. Don’t just swan across the stage on your toes.)

  4. There’s a song out on the alt stations that has a lyric “100 bad days make 100 good stories, 100 good stories makes me interesting at parties” so yeah, the most messed up moments end up being the best.
    (song is “100 bad days” by AJR)

  5. I’ve been to the opera one time, I had horrible gas, my Mom was mortified! But I whispered in her ear “Don’t worry, the people around probably think it was YOU!”
    I’m going to hell, I am a horrible person.

  6. I’m glad you did the opera thing and reported back – now I won’t ever have to subject myself to it. I think I would feel exactly the same way:

    Hey, this is really cool!

    Oh god, how much longer is this?


  7. The word you’re looking for does in fact mean SHUT UP ! I’m dying, because I was raised by my Sicilian Nonnie, and I can her hear saying it…
    Thanks for sharing the Opera pics, it looks fantastic.

  8. Did you by chance see The Barber of Seville? Because that’s the Bugs Bunny opera I remember!

    You didn’t waste your money by any stretch of the imagination. You had a new experience in a fancy place. Whether it floated your boat or not, it was a new experience, and that is a good thing!

    Love the nap-jerk at the opera. At least you didn’t fart in church.Don’t ask.

    Glad you’re feeling so much better!

  9. You almost drowned me. I had just taken a big gulp of water when I read the ‘bitch’ part.
    As children we never realized how much we were learning about classical music and opera from Bugs Bunny. I’ve had that ‘Bugs Bunny played that’ moment more than once in my life.

  10. Hilarious, but also.
    That second picture of Victor looking at you is just all the love. <3

  11. We went to the Cantonese opera in Hong Kong and left at intermission. My husband felt like we should stick it out but we weren’t enjoying it and had limited time in HK so I talked him into cutting our losses. Also, we dressed like it was the fanciest thing ever and everyone else was in shorts or jeans.

  12. As someone who has loved the opera since before I was Hailey’s age: New experiences are never a waste. Either you will find something you love, or you will learn something about yourself, or you will have an amazing story to lord over your mother when she starts trying to show your baby pictures to your future romantic interest. Two out of three ain’t bad sweetie.

  13. Hey. How many people can say they fancifully (?) nap jerked in Venice pretending to like Opera?!? I say at least you gave it your best. So very happy your home!

  14. Welcome back! I’m glad, if nothing else,you have some wonderful memories. And we, your loyal followers, had a great belly laugh at your expense.

  15. Omg I’m gunna start using St. Zita to tell people to shut up. Also the times things didn’t go as planned as a kid are some of my favorite memories

  16. Honestly, you should be able to write the opera off as a business expense- fancy mortification is your bread and butter and there are so many of us who have been there. Metaphorically- Bugs Bunny has been my only opera experience. I routinely mortify myself in other languages so I feel your pain. I once had a massive misunderstanding that ended with me thinking a delightful Turkish woman was going to show me pictures of her grandchildren and she showed me her green card. It’s been twenty years and I still don’t know what happened. I also fell down a cathedral. You are not alone and I’m honestly a little
    Jealous of the level of fancy you achieved!

  17. I love you guys. You have again made me laugh helplessly at your adventures. And no experience, even the meh ones, is ever a waste. They are educational and many times turn into great stories! Have a nice restful recovery, too.

  18. Girl, it doesn’t matter that you didn’t get your kicks at the Opera. What matters is that you showed up for your girl and you tried the opera! ❤️❤️❤️Rest now.

  19. First thing first. I told you you would have felt better once returned home. No, we don’t exceed in air conditioning. And yes, a foreign language is confusing.

  20. Bugs Bunny exposed many kids to classical music! (Also, Rocky and Bullwinkle had some surprising fancy references too!)

  21. Also, also David Sedaris story about and from “Me Talk Pretty One Day” is very funny and about miscommunication in another language.

  22. Tell Hailey that over her lifetime this one expense will save her from ever expending any MORE money (or time) on fancy-schmancy operas. Experience and all that! (I am 71 years old and I never, ever spend any money on operas, and I am living to tell about it. Don’t mention my jazz expenditures).

  23. “Silly Italians not installing AC in a 300-years old theatre…”
    If it was La Fenice, the main Venitian opera house, they had ample opportunity to add AC. It completely burned down in 1996 and was rebuilt over an 8 year period to look as closely like it did in 1837*, when it had been rebuilt after a fire that burned down the previous building, built in 1774, which itself replaced the original building – which had been destroyed by a fire.

    La Fenice means “The Phoenix”, the mythical bird that dies and is reborn in fire.

    They didn’t replicate everything, it’s sitting on concrete pier, the roof is steel, not wood, and the stage is full of up to date equipment and lighting.

  24. La Fenice is worth the time and money just to see the interior and the spectacle of the place. We also left at intermission, but still thought it was a great experience. Go Hailey!

  25. I’ve suffered through 2 operas in my life. They are SO LONG. 2 intermissions?? Soprano singing makes me want to drag fingernails down a blackboard for RELIEF. Opera should be shorter and at least one octave lower. Also your entire trip sounds memorable in all the good ways. You have ROCKED your traveling recently!! Seriously!

  26. Did you read John Berendt’s “The City of Falling Angels” before you went to Venice, by chance? Very cool book about the fire at La Fenice and Venice in general. Same guy who wrote Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

  27. Uh-oh — did you start your/Hailey’s opera experience with “Siegfried”? Yikes. Although, it is the best of the Bugs Bunny operas. To my friend’s great embarrassment, I kept singing, “Oh MIghty warrior of great hunting stoooock! Might I inquire as to (munchmunchmunch) What’s up doooc?” Good times.

    Also, maybe next time try something more fun, like Barber of Seville? There’s lots more Bugs to sing in that too.

  28. Uh-oh — did you start your/Hailey’s opera experience with “Siegfried”? Yikes. Although, it is the best of the Bugs Bunny operas. To my friend’s great embarrassment, I kept singing, “Oh MIghty warrior of great hunting stoooock! Might I inquire as to (munchmunchmunch) What’s up doooc?” Good times.

    Also, maybe next time try something more fun, like Barber of Seville? There’s lots more Bugs to sing in that too.

  29. The photos look fantastic!

    And I’m pretty sure opera boxes need higher railings for the multitudes that fall asleep and then are startled awake.

  30. You lasted longer at the opera than I would have!! I even have a friend from high school who has sung opera somewhere in Italy, but forty-five minutes to an hour would be about my limit for it. Hearing music I saw on Bugs Bunny would maybe help extend that time, so I totally understand that. 🙂

  31. Oh my gosh! This reminds me of a time when I was backpacking and I had a random hookup with an Australian (I’m Canadian) and as were kissing he says, “kiss my dick!” And I responded, “NO!” But it turns out he actually said, “kiss my neck” bahaha!

  32. Oh my gosh! This reminds me of a time when I was backpacking and I had a random hookup with an Australian (I’m Canadian) and as were kissing he says, “kiss my dick!” And I responded, “NO!” But it turns out he actually said, “kiss my neck” bahaha!

  33. He buys the bitch taxidermy animals to make her happy! Yeah,he loves her!Lol

  34. The Viking lost his temper in Florence and a taxi driver offered to give me a ride to wherever The Viking WASN’T. I almost took him up on the offer but I thought The Viking would get arrested if I left him alone on a street filled with Italians who’ve never seen an angry Viking before. So, jumping off a balcony in the middle of an Opera isn’t the worst thing that has happened in Italy. 😂

  35. I fall asleep in all the performances my wife drags me to. It’s not that I don’t like the show per say, it’s just been a long day, and it’s my first chance to rest my eyes. I stilled loved your Italian opera story though…you add such great every day humor into our every day lives.

  36. Bugs Bunny…. I’m guessing you were at Barber of Seville. We used that in our marketing like CRAZY when my opera company did that one a few years ago. We’ve got an opera coming to KC in April/May that I think you’d Love though – The Shining! Yep, THAT Shining. Yep, the Stephen King one. You would love that one.

  37. Haha! You have your own language, Jenny. “When in Rome…” is a silly saying anyhow. And, Bugs Bunny was an amazing opera star!

  38. It must have been uncomfortably warm to fall asleep. At least you can say you’ve been to the Italian opera and you sat in your own box.

    Good to know you enjoyed the break and you’re back.

  39. I adore opera (music major in college) but I snorted coffee reading your blog this morning. Please, what opera were you snoozing through? Also, I am going to Mexico in a few weeks, and apparently I will be going for walks on the bitch. 😂🤣

  40. Ha! You upstaged an opera. Well done you. You’re my favorite everything.

  41. So did you see/find St Zita in her glass box? They usually bring her out on her festival day to the market place and there are TONS of flower vendors everywhere, since flowers are part of her ‘miracle’. Also Lucca was the first place I got ‘lost’ in when I was living in Italy. My friend and I could not remember where we parked the car, except it was inside the city walls. Walked for hours! Decided that a pro tip after that was to walk into the nearest bar and get their ‘card’ with an address on it so we knew what to ask people. lol

  42. So very glad you had a wonderful trip. On a totally unrelated topic, I have been trying to locate your Reading Group Guide that’s supposed to be available at, BUT is NOT. My ladies club is finally getting around to trying something new, at my suggestion (I’m the newbie and the youngest at age 61) and I’m supposed to lead the discussion (HELP!!). Please guide me to bring some of your intent to our discussion. Thank YOU for your creativity and candor. Your books have helped me in dark times.

  43. Google does say:
    sta ‘zitto means shut up… but I have to wonder if he was just pulling your leg, cause they don’t seem like they’d be pronounced the same way.

  44. I get how your opera moment went. Not everyone has a PRETTY WOMAN response their first time. I was in Greece for Greek Orthodox Easter. We were going to attend an Easter service (They welcome Christ in at midnight.). I asked our guide, “Are we going to celebrate at a very old church?” “No,” she said, sadly. “How old is the church?” I inquired. “It was built in the 1500’s.” HHhhhhmmmm. I guess “old” is relative. But it was cool. They shot off fireworks OVER all the people in the square (!!) and they passed the “light of Jesus coming into the world” via open flame candles in a town square so crowded that I was waiting for someone’s hair or clothing to catch on fire. But it all worked out. I didn’t fall asleep, so that was good.

  45. I thought I was being fancy and a great mom when I took my little dancer to see Swan Lake. She said it was ok but it would be a lot better if they would just start talking. 🤷🏼‍♀️

  46. Well I hope you saw the Rabbit of Seville! “Welcome to my shop, let me cut your mop…..can’t you see that I am sweeter, I’m your little senor-it’s….” I got all my culture from Looney Tunes

  47. As a (very non-professional) singer my favorite music-related Bugs Bunny cartoon is “Long-Haired Hare” where he torments the poor opera singer. I can relate to the guy even as I laugh my behind off.

  48. What a funny story of your adventure!! I am so glad you and your family can go places together. These times make the best memories!

  49. I do like Opera, but I admit it’s not for everyone. I usually just “go” when the Met shows them live in HD, so basically I’m at my favorite theatre where there are comfy seats, I can wear what I like, and they bring me food (it’s one of those “dine in” theatres). Plus, there are subtitles. I don’t know how I’d do it in a real opera house.

  50. My great grandmother was an opera star, and it saved her from a life of poverty, and she was able to escape Nazi Germany with her Jewish Husband and her half Jewish daughter (my Grandmother) because she was an opera star. She then continued to sing in Europe during the war and spied on the Nazi high ranking officials who would go to the opera and then to the fancy parties she and the other opera singers would be invited to attend. She would pass along all the conversations she overheard to the US Government. I’ve never seen an opera, so Bugs Bunny was my intro to opera music, too. I just imagined my Great Grandma as Jessica Rabbit singing to Bugs Bunny in an overly hot Venetian opera house, with Nazi Generals trying to catch Bugs Bunny during your nap! Hilarious image!!!

  51. I’m dying imagining both the opera and the conversation with the cab driver – thank you for making me smile bigly! But mostly, I love the photo of the 3 of you in your opera cubical. Victor’s expression is nothing if not adoring. What a keeper!!!

  52. I have fallen asleep at the opera, symphony/philharmonic, ballet, theater (CATS was the worst!), even Stomp and some comedian shows. Other than rock/modern music concerts, the only theatrical show that had me totally enthralled (and awake) was Book of Mormon.

  53. Jenny, girl, look at how he looks at you. For real, look at it. I gave a little gasp when I saw it, that look on his face, that expression. If you ever have a crazy sad moment where you’re silly enough to think he doesn’t love the very bones of you, just look at that picture and try to deny it.

    I don’t even care if it seems weird to anybody to say it, being a stranger and all, but I love you guys. I really do. You’ve had SUCH a rough year, yet one still filled with laughter, accomplishments, and constant love; it lifts my heart to see you three smiling and doing well.

    Your Pal,

    Storm the Klingon

  54. HELL YES the messed up stuff can make the greatest memories.
    There is a lovely book called The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa and I’ve never forgotten the scene where the housekeeper, her young son and the elderly professor are getting ready for the professor’s birthday celebration, and then everything goes wrong.
    Of course it doesn’t go hilariously wrong like your Great Moments in Family Life, but still…

  55. FIrst, I’m sorry, but opera sucks. My dad loves it and I tried, but NO. I saw La Boheme (On which Rent is based) and by the middle of it I was like “When is this bitch going to die so I can leave?!?”
    And, don’t worry about all the messed up stuff. That makes the best family stories!

  56. I loved all the photos but this one especially with a certain well-dressed gentleman waiting to escort two lovely ladies.

  57. I’ve been away for awhile and just got sucked into the Bloggess zone! Thank you for your sharing your beautiful authenticity, humor and stories with the world. I’ve always had a dream of opening a bookshop and am thrilled for you! We need more independent bookstores in the world. Take care of you and please don’t fall off the balcony – had the old guy Muppets in my head while reading that story!

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