Pure Tu Sei Bella

Today on the way to work, a creepy, overweight man on a bicycle drove up to me and said, "You're looking very beautiful this morning." I accepted his compliment graciously and kept on walking. I know that his intentions were probably very innocent. I think that he might be... simple, shall we say.

But it made me reflect on the glory days of Italy, where random men (simple and smart) would tell me how beautiful I was every day! And whether or not they were creepy, the compliments were very welcome! So here are some of the more comical compliments that I or my companions received during my stay in Italy, in chronological order.

On a Bus in Florence
My memory on this one is sketchy since Florence was my first city and my Italian was also sketchy. My trainer was Italian. Two guys approach us on the bus and start telling her how beautiful they think we are. She says, "That's great. We're missionaries!" They ask what missionaries are. She says, "Like nuns" and smiles an icey smile at them. Conversation quickly dies and they find seats on a bus that was previously too crowded for them to have found seats on.

On a Street in Rome
One of my companions (there were three of us) says as we pass a car, Bella macchina (beautiful car). The driver says, Bella tu. We keep on walking, but the driver calls us back. He has a creepy voice but a really nice car.
--Hai sentito? Ho detto, "Bella tu."
--Did you hear? I said, "Beautiful you."
--Si. Ho sentito.
--Yes. I heard.
--Quanti anni hai?
--How many years do you have? (How old are you?)
--Too few.
--Quando torni in America?
--When do you go back to America?
--Quando i miei genitori vengono a portarmi via.
--Until my parents come to take me away.
At this point, we leave.

At Trevi Fountain in Rome
A foreign man is trying to sell roses. He chases my companion with a rose, calling her beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. I say, "If she's so beautiful, why does she have to buy her own roses? Shouldn't a man buy roses for her?" He turns to me and says, "I wasn't talking to you, ugly."

On a Boat from Sardinia to Rome

A guy is talking to my companion and me. He thinks my companion is beautiful. He goes on and on and on about how beautiful she is. Then he turns to me:

--Pure tu sei bella. Pero.

--Also you are beautiful. But.

And he shrugs his shoulders.

On a Train in Sardinia
My greenie comes up to me after having used the train's restroom:
--What does Sei bellissima! mean?
--What did you say to the person who said Sei bellissima! to you?
--I said, Si! because I thought he was asking if the restroom was free.
(Sei bellissima! means "You are very beautiful!" Si! means "Yes!")

At a Blind Woman's House. The Blind Woman Has Been Receiving Help from Sister Missionaries for Eight Years.
--Voi siete tutte belle! Tutte belle! Tutte belle e magre!
--You are all beautiful! All beautiful! All beautiful and thin!
There are three of us visiting her. She walks over to the thinnest of us and squeezes her arms. Magra! she cries. She comes to me and squeezes my arms. Magra! she cries. She goes to the third sister, who is hardly larger than me at all. She squeezes her arms. She hesitates.
--Tu, pero. Tu sei un po cicia.
--You, however. You are a little chubby.

On the Subway in Rome, Knowing that I Am Wearing a Perfectly Matched Outfit
--You are the most beautiful woman on the metro right now and all eyes are on you. (This was in English.)

On the Subway in Rome, Sitting Across from Two Drunk Guys

--Io sono bello. Pure tu sei bella. Io sono inamorato di te. Io ti amo.

--I am handsome. You are also beautiful. I am in love with you. I love you.


Coop said...

The best blogger around strikes again!

Once, in my first area in Brasil, my companion and I were walking to the Church (about 20 minutes away). A little less than 5 minutes into the walk, we passed a group of about 25-30 teenage girls that were walking home from school (I assume that's what they were doing because of the crazy uniforms that Brazilian schools make them wear). When we walked by they started calling all sorts of exciting things to us (I didn't understand it all, but what I did I will not repeat). We thought they were through when we passed them, but as soon as we did all 30-ish of them turned and followed us. They followed us all the way to the Church hitting on us--a 20 minute walk up a lot of hills. Once we got there, my companion turned around and said: "We're missionaries for this Church. Come back Sunday morning at 9 and we'll actually talk to you!" We marked down 30 contacts and called it a day. Okay, we kept on walking, but that's not much of a conclusion.

ambrosia ananas said...

Hahahahahaha. I love it.

Let's see. I heard many exciting things while working the food industry in Park City. Besides being the mas bella en todo del mundo and having ojos bonitos and labios bonitios and manos bonitas, I was also told one evening by one of my fellow servers at Denny's that my hair was as beautiful as his car.

That's right. Some women may be slender. They may have stunning eyes or passion-inspiring lips. But how many can say that their hair is as beautiful as a 1997 Ford Taurus, reddish orange?

(And no, my hair is *not* red.)

Desmama said...

Shoot. These stories are too funny--all of 'em. When I was in Spain (not a missionary, just on Study Abroad) this creepy guy passed by a friend and me. He muttered something, and I asked the friend (who had served a mission there) what he said. "He wants you for a Christmas present," was all she told me.

daltongirl said...

No one on my mission ever told me I was pretty. This is because all my companions were Japanese, and I was at least twice their size. Also, I looked half-Japanese, so I would have to have been blonde in order for them to notice me. My two favorite comments were:

1. You came on a mission because you couldn't get married, right?

2. If you lost some weight, you'd almost be pretty.

Also, people kept comparing me to this Amazon woman, also in the mission. She was about the scariest-looking person I have ever seen. She was like six feet tall and looked like the Elephant Woman. I'm not kidding. I had a mission photo with her in it and used to stare, transfixed, wondering what in the world was wrong with her. I got transferred to a ward she used to be in, and people would constantly come running to me, screaming "So-and-so Shimai!" Then, when they found out it wasn't her, they would turn away in disgust. I took that to mean that I was even scarier than she was.

It was a very long eighteen months. I would even have welcomed a positive-type comparison to someone's car.

Then, toward the very end, a super creepy guy chased us on his bike and exposed himself to us in a dark hallway. If I hadn't been so scared, I would have taken it as a compliment. Or maybe it was all for my blonde companion. Shoot!

Nemesis said...

One time during my London study abroad I passed a man selling newspapers on the street. He asked if I wanted to buy one and I smiled and said, "No, thank you." Then he said, "That's all right. And you look very pretty today, luv!"

Only he probably just wanted me to change my mind.

Later I found out that the newspaper is produced and sold completely by the homeless community and all the proceeds go to helping the homeless. And then I felt like a jerk.

Puckish Mitya said...

Cicada, you are fantastic.

That got as many out-loud laughs as David Sedaris. Quite a feat indeed.

P.S. I had to delete the first one because I used your name.

FoxyJ said...

Italy sounds frightenly similar to Spain. I had my butt pinched by old men several times, and one even pinched my cheek and gave me a candy too! My favorite time was when a very old man (walking with the help of crutches) approached my companion and I and asked us if there were more "luscious young virgins like us" at our church. And then there was the group of stoned guys who shouted at us for about ten minutes about how much they loved our butts. Did you have teenagers yell the F-word at you? It happened to us all the time. I think it's the only universal English word out there.

Coop said...

Yes! Speaking of butt-pinching, anyone ever worked at an old folks' home? I was a waiter at one between the ages of 15 and 16. The old ladies were crazy into butt pinching. Check this out: often, when I wasn't looking, one would actually grab the pencil that was sticking out of my apron, giggle to her friends, and drop it on the floor behind me. Then say, "Oh, Cooooooop... you dropped your pennnciiilll...." After a while there I just gave in and slowly bent at the waist to pick it up, and acted all surprised when there was a cold, weak hand squeezing not-so-tightly.

Mary said...

My favorite icky man experiencio was at a bowling alley in Fresno, CA. (I apparently was asking for it, given the locale.)

The man watched me bowl, sauntered over, expressed to me: "baby, you're so beautiful I would drink your bath water." ew.

He then proceeded to take out a black sharpie and he wrote my phone number on my jeans, in the thigh region.

I know I should've run away screaming, "Pig! Pig! Code Blue!" But I was in a state of shock. We got picstures of the jeans to document the icky ordeal.

The moral of the story is you don't have to go on a mission to be disgusted by icky men. Icky. Icky. Icky. Fun word.

Mary said...

okay, oops. he did not write MY phone number, he wrote HIS phone number.

no, he was not icky AND clarivoyant.

Limon said...

As a guy, I often felt pressured to find some pretty girl to eat with at the cafeteria freshman year of college. One day I ignored the unspoken rule and deliberately sat in a booth so that I could eat and leave without incident or any type of personal interaction. A Mexican guy from my floor asked to sit with me. I couldn't say, "Of course not. Do I look like I'm in the mood for romance?" So, I nodded apathetically and shoveled even faster. He then looked up at me and said, "I hope you don't take this the wrong way, but you have beautiful eyes." I said thank you with the confused/grossed out look. And then deposited my tray.

dimmi said...

I'm so dang excited that you visited my blog and commented.

Here's why:

I already enjoyed your blog, but I had no idea that you were a Sorella!

I laughed through this whole post. The memories just came flooding back, you know?

(Okay, but how did your apartment not have a cheese grater? One of our apartments even had an electric cheese grater.)

Anonymous said...

Oh my! Seems like you guys had some terrible experiences. But bum pinching? No way! Been to both Spain and Italy and never ever happened. Actually, they are the two countries where I got unseen respect. The only contact was getting my nose tickled like you'd do to a child (mind you I do look 15). The flirts were polite and non-intrusive. Once an annoying man 10 years my senior came up with the most original comment. Him: "If your picture was replaced by that of Mother Mary no one would know the difference!" Me:" Of course not. We are both Jewish. We tend to share similar features." He fled like the plague. Btw, I am not of Jewish descent, I just wanted to test local attitudes towards different faiths and ethnicities. Unfortunately, and strangely (since everyone is Catholic)anti-Semitism is rife in Spain. Not the Skinhead beating up kind necesarily but yeah. So if traveling to South or Middle Spain and happen to have a necklace in Hebrew or something I suggest you take it off.Xenophobia makes me mad and sad.