July 21st, 2002

Good Cheer & Mischief

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Vittoria often said she’d married Giancarlo to get away from the frustrating power struggle with her father. Her father was hard-headed, unwilling to change or to be contradicted by anyone, especially his children. Giancarlo, on the other hand was entirely more managable. He was desperate to please her. Ah, that was more like it, eh?

It was odd. I was interested in their early days together, and I’d ask her about it. But when she revealed certain intimacies and shared experiences I wanted to change the subject.

My picture of their relationship is fragmented. I prefer to think only of the negative things, all the reasons why she ought to dump him. His being a workaholic, for instance. Always on the job in the city, six days a week. And Sundays digging around in his tomato patch, or at his brother’s house watching football, or having two hundred of his relatives over for one birthday or anniversary or another. At which time Vittoria closes the door of her room and will not come out. She doesn’t care. Let them think there’s something wrong with her. She might have played the nice-little-wife game at the beginning, but not anymore. Enough is enough.

And what about Giancarlo’s spying on her when he got the feeling that something was up? Hiring a private detective to find out who she was seeing. Showing up, trying to break down my door, pounding and shouting, until somebody called the cops.

Vittoria’s mother was fond of Giancarlo. Vittoria’s father, on the other hand, was not. Imagine how delighted I was when Vittoria related a brief interchange she’d overheard. “You easily walked into this family,” the old man told Giancarlo. “But you can just as easily walk out.” The old man always thought Vittoria could have done better, and opposed the marriage, until she told him she’d made up her mind and that was it. “A justice of the peace at City Hall will be just as good as a Bishop in a church,” she told him.

I prefer to think that her wedding was perfunctory, something she wanted to rush through as quickly as possible. I can’t imagine her smiling, full of good cheer and mischief. I have to believe she was grim-faced and impatient during the entire ordeal.

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Soccer & Italy

From “Soccer: A Matter of Love and Hate”
By Tim Parks, in the July 18, 2002, issue of The New York Review of Books:

‘Rarely articulated in the media, the "insular" attitudes that inspired the English FA in the early part of the century are still thriving, and nowhere more so than in Italy, whose sense of nationhood often seems to depend more on a series of ancient internal quarrels between erstwhile city-states than on any sense of imposing itself on the world around it. In this regard the country is not unlike those families who are immediately recognizable as such because they are so intensely engaged in arguing with each other. In his speech to the nation at New Year's, the Italian president, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, spoke of "Italy, land of a hundred cities, that unites love of my home town with love of my country and love of Europe."

'On the Web site of Hellas Verona, the soccer club of the small town where I live, a fan signing himself Dany-for-Hell@s chose to respond in decidedly football terms with a list of all the opposing teams any Hellas fan necessarily hates: "Italian unity = Roma merda, Inter merda, Juventus merda, Milan merda, Napoli merda, Vicenza merda, Lecce merda. Need I go on?"’

More here.