by Melinda Gallo

Always something new

I do so many things almost on auto-pilot here nowadays without even thinking twice. I go to many places, like the market, the cleaner's, the post office (to pay bills and to buy stamps), the gym, and most stores and am able to communicate properly. Today was different; I went to the sarta (seamstress) to have her make some drapes for me.

I've been to the sarta before to have her fix a pair of my jeans that had a hole in them. I showed them to her, paid her, and she repaired them. This time though I brought fabric to her, which I bought somewhere else, and gave her the measurements so she could make my drapes.

I talked to her before about making them and she just needed the fabric and the measurements. And she told me to make sure that they've gotten bagnati (wet). Up to that point, everything was fine.

My vocabulary for all that involves sewing is very weak even in English. Besides saying orlo (hem) and tenda (curtain), I didn't know how to say much else. She rattled off a bunch of words and folded the fabric. I assumed she was trying to explain to me how she would sew it together. "Sė, va bene." (Yes, OK.) I told her. Who was I to argue with her?

"Cosa usi per appenderle?" (What are you using to hang them?) Oh great, I thought. How do I say "those little pinchy things?" I used the international language and pinched my fingers together and said, "pinzette?" She said she understood and said, "I clip" (clips). Of course, it wasn't until I got home that I figured out that I said, "tweezers."

Usually, if I go to a store to buy something and I forgot the word, I try to look at the window and look for something with its name on it. After I left the sarta, I went to get a hand vacuum. I know that vacuum is aspirapolvere, but I didn't look up the word before I left the house (which I discovered later isn't even in my dictionary). Luckily, on the sign with the price, it said aspiretto. So, when I went inside the store, I knew what to ask for.

In both cases, I learned something new. And that's what I'm here for: to learn more Italian each day.

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