Picture this, if you will: the morning light outside my kitchen window is made up of somber shades of gray, threatening rain. The silvery green of the olive trees seems to stand out in sharp relief. I pause at the sink to rinse my coffee cup, my thoughts scurrying forward into the day that lies ahead. My father-in-law Gaetano comes out of his house--wearing his dirty, patched and too-short work trousers, heavy brown immigrant-issue shoes, and ratty green sweater--and lumbers around the back-end of his truck and over to the low wall of stones in front of the olive grove.
Here we go again.
He bends slightly forward in that universal male posture, his hands fumbling somewhere below the belt (and thankfully out of sight behind the wall), and has himself a nice morning constipissonal. It takes him quite a while--in urination time-space continuum terms--so I have a chance to call over my husband, who happens to be going in to work later this morning. "Would you LOOK at that?!" Since the kids haven't left for school yet, they come running over, "What? What is it?!"
"Nonno is peeing in the garden. As usual."
"Lemme see, I wanna see!" So we lift up Gemma, then Giacomo. They laugh and squeal, "Nonno's peeing in the garden, Nonno's peeing in the garden!"
I have to admit that I did not have a good parental response or explanation at the ready that didn't involve withering--no, blistering--sarcasm. "Yes. Indeed. Nonno is peeing in the garden."
Meanwhile, having finished (and unaware of his rapt audience), Gaetano zips up with cautious decrepitude and lumbers back down into the courtyard, shuffling his feet in their mud-caked clodhoppers. He opens the front door and goes back in the house.
And yes, dear Readers, we do have indoor plumbing here in Italy.
Speechless, at a loss, and confounded,