America Day Samantha Nicole Traina When you go abroad you assume there are some American amenities that you are going to give up. McDonalds and a Starbucks on every corner is a thing of the past, along with the entire notion of to go coffee, and finding someone who knows enough English to have a bit of witty banter with was next to impossible. Of course if you travel during the summer you assume that along with everything else that comes July fourth will be forsaken as well. There will be no hot dogs and burgers on a grill, no fire works, no beers kinking together as you wear anything in your closet that could be red, white or blue, small American flags clutched in your hand. Independence day is normally the mid mark of summer, but in Florence Italy I was fully prepared to swap my usual festivities for Gelato and a bottle of ten-euro wine to sip from while I stood by the Ponte de Vecchio. I didn’t expect to wake up on that fine Fourth of July and find that every restaurant that could possibly open for brunch had an American breakfast deal, complete with eggs, bacon, and a side of pancakes. American tourist seemed to pop out of the woodwork. Suddenly, every other conversation I heard was in English, and the other Americans had no problem announcing to everyone exactly what their nationality was, complete with American Flags tied to their back while they screamed USA, USA, while walking down the coble stone streets that were older than our country. I assumed I would get nothing, but irritated looks from the shopkeepers. With the ones I had learned just enough Italian to get by, because their English was nonexistence I waited for the most angered of looks. Instead I was in shock when horrible accented “Happy America day!” flew past their lips with grand smiles as they handed me my biscotti. I had been in Italy for a month. I had prided my self on the fact that having an actual Italian heritage allowed me to blend in more. A couple of style lessons, and my natural ability to roll my Rs allowed me to get more smiles from the people of Florence than some of my other friends who had came abroad. But, never had I gotten smiles as big as those when they were wishing me happy America day. The woman that had first scolded me for wanting my cappuccino to go in the morning, who had exclaimed “In Italy we sit and enjoy!” hands held out palms wide and all that Italian gesture to go with it., now handed me a cup that even had a lid with a small hole on top to stick a straw through. “Happy America Day!” she said hands held out wide before clapping them together. I took my cup away in confusion, unclear of what I was supposed to do with the fifteen minutes I had allotted myself before class, to sit and enjoy my coffee properly. By the end of it I was becoming the person who was so annoyed by all the American nonsense I seemed to be surrounded with. I felt a mood swing about to hit. One minute I was trying to find a import store that possibly could carry mustard and hot dogs, the next I tried to shake the American craving out of my self by buying a cannoli by the family run bakery just off the piazza where the fake David statue, the real on kept safely in a museum, looked over the sweating people. As night rolled in
and a few bottles of wine with girl friends later we tried to hit the nightclub scene and found that the American frat boys had some how also invaded all the Italian clubs. Some how they had found music that had been released in the last month, and country music, good ol country hoe down music played over the normally house music filled speakers. The finely dressed Italian men were nowhere to be found. As the roars of USA, USA grew louder I had, had it. I left the club irritated that my Italian oasis had some how be taken over by all the things I hated about my home culture. As I stood out side bitching away with my friends, the male embodiment of everything I currently wanted to punch stumbled out of the bar. Blonde gelled up hair, tight t -shirt, slurring, stumbling all American mess suddenly pushed passed me, and copped a feel in the process. I thought at first it was accident, a drunken dumb ass mistake. That was until the grip grew stronger. It was a definite on purpose grope. I didn’t know what Italian women did in this situation, I didn’t know if Italian men even were as rude to come up to a woman they didn’t know and grab their breasts. What was the Italian protocol in a situation like this? I didn’t know that answer but I knew what an American woman would do. I let all that irritation build up to an all American fit as I started to scream every English swear word I could think of. I swung my leg in his direction, aiming for his balls. I missed. I was too drunk to keep my balance and landed on my ass. I continued to scream profanities while I was laughed at, the asshole having disappeared down the street. I didn’t have anything left but drunken determination at that point to get me back to my small apartment, that didn’t have a microwave to make any of my hang over usuals, let alone the processed nonsense like lean quizene or toaster strudel. I suddenly felt truly home sick, where on the 4 th I normally would have fallen asleep on the beach of lake Michigan with my friends watching the fire works light up the sky. Guess you could take girl out of America, but come America day, you can’t take the USA out of the girl.