Chapter 3 - Meeting the family

Meeting the family

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Today was the big day. I finally met Concetta’s family and it was a disaster.?They came from a town in Puglia called Manfredonia.?
Concetta was nervous: “Now remember, John, they come from the South and they think differently from the people here in Milan.”
?“How?” I asked.?“Well, they have old ideas, especially my grandmother. Just don’t be surprised if they ask you a lot of questions.”?
I put on my best clothes and was determined to make a good impression on her family. Concetta was very important to me.

First impressions

At the table I was also nervous, but confident.
?The first to speak to me was “zia Grazia.”
She asked me: “So, how’s the Queen?” ?“I have no idea,” I answered honestly.
?“I like her son, what’s his name?”?“Carlo?” I answered, remembering that “Carlo” was how Charles was known in Italy.?
“No, not the one with the big ears: the other one, the beautiful one.”?“Andrea?”? “Exactly.” Then she turned to the others and said: “See? It may be the English Royal Family, but they all have Italian names!”? I didn’t comment.

Food glorious food

You can say what you want about the pugliesi, but they cook very well.?
The grandmother, nonna Pia, brought me a plate with a big, fat herring on it. I was happy about this because I love fish, but the sauce interested me more. It was blue.
?“What’s this?” I asked. Immediately zia Grazia said: “It’s a fish! Don’t you have them in England?”? “God! I don’t come from Mars!” I thought, but I didn’t say anything.?
After some very animated eating, talking and laughing, zia Grazia decided to victimise me again.
“I like the English!” She smiled. Well, this was positive. “And do you know who my favourite Englishman is?” ?“I don’t know,” I said, “Hugh Grant? David Beckham? Mr. Bean?”?“No, Sean Connery!”?I don’t know how, but I stayed calm.?“zia Grazia,” I smiled.
“Sean Connery isn’t English, he’s Scottish!” ?“Oh, it’s the same thing,” she said.? I exploded: “No! It is not the same thing! He is from Scotland in the North, I am from England in the South. He is not English, he’s Scottish! You know, big hairy men in kilts. Scottish!” ?There was a terrible silence. Everybody was looking at me as if I was crazy.? “Well, I like Sean Connery anyway,” said zia Grazia, defensively.


After a little wine, the grappa arrived. After the grappa, nonna Pia started to talk a lot about the old traditions of Manfredonia and how a woman should treat her man.?
“So, when are you going to marry?” she asked us.?“It’s a little early, nonna,” said Concetta, her face red. ?“Well, don’t forget,” said nonna Pia, “You be a good wife, Concetta. When your man returns from work, you must have his dinner ready on the table. And when he desires you, you must please him, at least once a day.”

My mistake

I couldn’t believe this! “Please him once a day!” I thought: ‘My God! How sexist! How primitive! How... wonderful!”
?That evening I decided that nonna Pia was right. I am the man and I should be a man “Manfredonian style,” so, when I got home, I said to Concetta: “I desire you, woman! Go to the bedroom now! I’ll be there in five minutes!”
?I am now writing this from a place called “Pronto Soccorso.”?The doctor says my nose is broken in two places and that I’m lucky to have all my teeth.


confident - fiducioso
a big, fat herring - una grossa aringa
sauce - salsa
big hairy men in kilts - uomini grandi e pelosi col kilt

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