I couldn't hold out. None of my pants, after almost four months in Italy, fit me anymore. Not even the new clothes I just bought last month (when I'd already outgrown my "Second Month in Italy" pants) fit me anymore. I can't afford to buy a new wardrobe every few weeks, and I am aware that soon I will be in India, where the pounds will just melt away, but still--I cannot walk in these pants anymore. I can't stand it.
Which all makes sense, given that I recently stepped on a scale in a fancy Italian hotel and learned that I have gained twenty-three pounds in my four months of Italy--a truly admirable statistic. About fifteen pounds of that I actually needed to gain because I had become so skeletal during these last hard years of divorce and depression. The next five pounds, I just gained for fun. As for the final three? Just to prove a point, I suppose.
But so it is that I find myself shopping for an item of clothing I will always keep in my life as a cherished souvenir: "My Last Month in Italy Jeans." The young lady in the shop is nice enough to keep bringing me bigger and bigger sizes, handing them through the curtain one after another without commentary, only asking with concern each time if this is closer to a fit. Several times, I have needed to poke my head out of this curtain and ask, "Excuse me--do you have a pair that is slightly bigger?" Until the nice young lady finally gives me a pair of jeans with a waist measurement that verily hurts my eyes to witness. I step out of the dressing room, presenting myself to the salesgirl.
She doesn't blink. She looks at me like an art curator trying to assess the value of a vase. A rather large vase.
"Carina," she decides finally. Cute.
I ask her in Italian if she could please tell me honestly whether these jeans are causing me to resemble a cow.
No, signorina, I am told. You do not resemble a cow.
"Do I resemble a pig, then?"
No, she assures me with great seriousness. Nor do I resemble a pig in the least. "Perhaps a buffalo?"
This is becoming good vocabulary practice. I'm also trying to get a smile out of the salesclerk, but she's too intent on remaining professional.
I try one more time: "Maybe I resemble a buffalo mozzarella?"
Okay, maybe, she concedes, smiling only slightly. Maybe you do look a little like a buffalo mozzarella . . .