Having your name constantly listed among the heroes Batman and Robin Hood may be a fantasy for many, but to me it is just one of those every day, ordinary things that happens in life. I’m not a skinny guy in green tights I’m not a guy at all, in fact, and I don’t even have the honor of being an often-overlooked sidekick to a rich and powerful superhero. No, I’m just your ordinary American girl who happens to live in a country where it’s a curse not to be able to roll the letter “r,” especially when your name starts with that letter.
“Excuse me, but what is your name?” is normally the first thing they ask, in their thick Italian accents. That’s when the trouble starts. That’s when I wish I really did know Batman, so he could sweep me off my feet and take me somewhere else, so I didn’t have to go through this again. After the Italian’s opening question, the conversation normally goes something like this:
“My name is Robin.”
“Your name is Wobin?”
“No, mi chiamo Robin.” “Ti chiami Wobin?”
At this point, I give a tiny, exasperated sigh, and the Italian normally a guy will throw a confused glance at his friend standing next to him. His friend will then remove his Oakley sunglasses even if it’s winter, scratch his head, take a drag of his cigarette, and give a shrug. Then, just like in the cartoons when the coyote has a brilliant idea about how to catch the roadrunner, a light bulb will pop up above one of their head’s, and he’ll say, “Ah! Robin! Like Batman and Robin!” A smug little smile will then cross his friend’s face, and one will say to the other in Italian, “Hey, I wonder where the Merry Men are!” Now it’s my turn to look smug. They think I’m a tourist. Little do they know that I’m an ex-pat who’s been living here for almost three years, and can understand Italian better than the average American walking through the gray Milan haze. I always do love the surprised look on their faces when I reply in Italian. Then they ask why I speak Italian, and the above conversation is completely forgotten.
If that had been the only thing I had needed to adapt to when I moved here, I would have been happy as a lark. However, that wasn’t exactly the case. Have you ever known anyone who has moved to Italy and not liked pasta? That was my case, and a sad one it was. I think I lived off of ice cream and pizza for the first month we were here, but then I started getting adventurous. Now I eat delicacies that disgust my friends in the States. Carpaccio thin slices of raw beef topped with pieces of ruccola, sliced parmesan cheese, and a tad bit of oil now there’s a treat.
One of the greater and deeper problems which I encountered in moving to Italy was the loneliness and sense of abandonment that I felt. Not being able to speak the language, I was left with nobody but myself. Then, one day a girl who spoke very little English named Roberta rang my doorbell, took me out and showed me the ways of Italy. Through her I learned about the language and culture, and the people. After some time, I learned that love is not dependant on a place, but that it revolves around having friends and being with those who you care for, no matter where you are. Now I feel prepared to be anywhere, for I have learned that no matter where I go or what I do I will always have those who care about me, even if they aren’t right next to me.
After recovering from the culture shock, and discovering that places other than America really do exist and are not myths, life went quite well. Yet it seems that no matter how long I am here, or how well I adapt, I will never overcome the challenge of getting the Italians to say my name right without bringing Batman or Robin Hood into the conversation. If only I could roll my “r'”s!