We know it’s been a while since the last post, and while there are a myriad of excuses, they’re just that… excuses. We’re about to begin a multi-post catch-up over the next few days to bring us back to the present.
In the meantime, I’ll share with you what has to be one of the top 10 most embarrassing moments in my life… Fair warning. It is a little gross.
This started last week when I went on a business trip to Milan. I was pretty stoked because I know I’m about to get some quality Italian food straight from the motherland. I had been having this craving for good Italian food. The British obsession with Béchamel sauce was no longer cutting it for me. I needed the real thing.
We landed, dropped our stuff off at the hotel and quickly, nay excitedly, made our way to the nearest local restaurant. It was fantastic! Oh, the joy! Prosciutto! Fresh mozzarella. Tagliata! Tiramisu! Everything I dreamed of! To borrow the British phrase, I was one happy chappy!
Then that night came… and I developed some issues… namely, Montezuma’s Revenge. I was not loving life that night. I didn’t sleep well and I was absolutely miserable the next morning.
I asked the hotel clerk if he knew where I could buy some medicine. He told me there was a pharmacy just around the corner. I strolled over in earnest, not fully contemplating what was in store for me.
I walked in, and started looking around the small little pharmacy when the flaw in my plan was exposed… The medicine was in Italian…. I don’t speak Italian. The pharmacist came over, seeing the distressed and confused look upon my face. He offered to help (in Italian), and I tried speaking English to him. He did not understand.
Now, as an experienced traveler, I know there are two ways to approach someone who wants to be helpful, but doesn’t speak English:
- Talk slower and use small words. Usually, this is accompanied by a completely unnecessary rise in volume as well. I don’t know why most travelers (Americans are notorious for this) think this works, but repeating the same phrase in the same condescending tone you would use to speak to a child or friend who is annoying you rarely brings positive results.
- Oh sure. They can’t speak English, but you’ve won the game for your team without saying a word.
Naturally, I tried option 1 first, cautiously… just to test the waters and see if perhaps he had learned English from some old Dallas reruns. Apparently, he hadn’t… and now he was slightly annoyed. That left option number 2… dreaded option number 2.
I have played charades with my friends, and even playing with just that limited audience of those closest to me, I have felt like a damn fool. Now here I am, in a small town outside of Milan, 6 other people in the store, and I knew a performance was coming on. Most unfortunately, the word that came up for was ‘Diarrhea’.
I tried for five minutes to explain to him what was ailing me. I tried to explain they were not stomach problems… it was not constipation. ‘Hmm… not getting anywhere fast,’ I thought, ‘and I’m gaining a wider audience with my gesticulating. Let’s see… three syllables…’ and I racked my brain. I felt like I was doing a live version of the Pepto Bismol commercial.
Parents started to cover their kids’ eyes. Other customers tried to step in to help make it stop. I think the pharmacist was letting me go on for a bit as punishment for communication attempt number 1.
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, he started showing me some medicines. Immodium! I know that drug, you blessed savior! I bought it as hurredly as I could and exited stage left, vowing never to show my face in Milan again… or at least prepare better next time. I think I’m going to my local chemist and buying drugs for the most embarrassing ailments I can think of to prepare my travel kit. No way am I having this happen to me again!
Well, I hope you enjoyed the story! We’ll catch up more soon!