What if The NYT decided to do a similar piece on Pueto Ricans, Africans, the Chinese, etc – pick your group. What would be the reaction? Italians and Italian-Americans have had to put up with this kind of ethnic stereotyping for years! My dad – an Italian – first generation in American – seldom “signaled.” Neither did his TEN sisters and brothers! The writer of this piece (a non-Italian??) perhaps fell in love with and married an Italian while on assignment in Italy and decided that this was all so endearing or cute or something??? Yeesh … .
AND: My father had the whitest skin! And hazel eyes! And reddish hair when he was young! And sun burned as soon as sunbeams hit his flesh. So much for the swarthy, Italian stereotype!!! (He did speak Italian fluently and LOVED chatting with his sis – my aunt – in a language my mom, two sisters and I could not understand. Lovely guy.) – R. Tirella
When Italians Chat, Hands and Fingers Do the Talking
ROME — In the great open-air theater that is Rome, the characters talk with their hands as much as their mouths. While talking animatedly on their cellphones or smoking cigarettes or even while downshifting their tiny cars through rush-hour traffic, they gesticulate with enviably elegant coordination.
From the classic fingers pinched against the thumb that can mean “Whaddya want from me?” or “I wasn’t born yesterday” to a hand circled slowly, indicating “Whatever” or “That’ll be the day,” there is an eloquence to the Italian hand gesture. In a culture that prizes oratory, nothing deflates airy rhetoric more swiftly.
Some gestures are simple: the side of the hand against the belly means hungry; the index finger twisted into the cheek means something tastes good; and tapping one’s wrist is a universal sign for “hurry up.” But others are far more complex. They add an inflection — of fatalism, resignation, world-weariness — that is as much a part of the Italian experience as breathing.
Two open hands can ask a real question, “What’s happening?” But hands placed in prayer become a sort of supplication, a rhetorical question: “What do you expect me to do about it?” Ask when a Roman bus might arrive, and the universal answer is shrugged shoulders, an “ehh” that sounds like an engine turning over and two raised hands that say, “Only when Providence allows.” …
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