Monday, May 5, 2008

Laundry and Nudity

Two things that are really different here in Italy. Let's start with the laundry because it's been such an ongoing saga, I'm sure you're all dying to hear the outcome.

I woke up early this morning because several of us had made a plan to go back and eat lunch at a restaurant we really like, and today is THE day that I was not working and the people in the hotel were available to let me into the laundry room. I marched downstairs with my overflowing bags of laundry ready to finally make a go of it, but when I got down to the reception area, the woman informed me "oh, I'm sorry signorina, it's occupied." IT'S occupied? I followed her into the "laundry room" to discover ONE MACHINE for the entire hotel - not just the guests, mind you, but also for the staff to wash the sheets, towels, etc. There were piles of laundry all around waiting to go in there. The receptionist assured me that when I returned from my lunch I could start putting my laundry in there.

Lunch was good, but I was like "come on people, we can't dawdle, I have a very limited laundry window" and I came back to the hotel ready to begin. "Oh, I'm sorry signorina - it's occupied!" again from the receptionist. I mean, I made an appointment to do my laundry and somebody still got their stuff in there before me! We walked into the laundry room again to see how much time was left on the machine. 54 minutes. For a washing machine. "How long to these machines take to wash?" I asked, alarmed. "Oh, only one or two hours" she replied casually. ONE OR TWO HOURS for one wash cycle? How the HELL do they get anything done around here AT ALL? I needed to get the laundry in there because I had also scheduled to have a massage today, and I had to get something washed before I left for that.

We discussed and negotiated, and decided that I would put my laundry in as soon as the machine was ready, and get it when I came back from the massage (at which point I would hang each sock, underwear, and pant up on a drying rack because they do not have dryers here). Then tomorrow I would put another load in before I went to rehearsal, and they would take it out and put it on a drying rack for me. After the endless wash cycle finished what was already in there, I actually did manage to get one load done (despite the fact that I accidentally bought fabric softener instead of laundry detergent - how could I tell the difference??) and my entire wardrobe is hanging here on a drying rack, staring at me and saying "why is your country such an energy waster? Look how easy it is not to use a dryer!"

Now on to the nudity. As I mentioned earlier, I had a massage today with a masseuse that is a friend of my friend Vincenzo. He was this gentle older gay man, so I wasn't freaked out or anything, but when I came into the room, he had me undress and he didn't leave and he didn't put a blanket on me or anything. But I was laying face down on the table, so it didn't really feel that weird. Then after he finished with my back, he had me turn over so he could massage me from the other side - normal for a massage - except there was no "okay, now I'll lift the sheet in front of me so you can turn over and then replace it to cover your nudity" there was just "turn over" so I was lying there, boobs to the wind for the rest of the massage. Then when it was over, he said "okay, finito" and just stayed in the room changing the bedding on the massage table and taking a phone call while I put my clothes back on. I know americans are prudish, and other countries are MUCH more relaxed about nudity, and I was trying to be all cool and euro about the whole thing, but the american in me was like "where's my sheet????" I had a massage in Colombia while I was there and they were equally unembarrassed by my nudity - in fact I think they even massaged my "pectorals" there - thank god this guy didn't do that. I might learn to speak italian on this trip, but I don't think I'm going to get over my american modesty. But at least I won't have to go around nude, since I finally managed to get my clothes clean.

1 comment:

pat said...

ah the culture shock!!