This morning at the gym someone actually talked to me. Usually women will only say hello and goodbye to me in the spogliatoio (locker room) and unless I make a comment about the weather, our conversation starts and stops there. Generally people at the gym take one look at me, realize that I'm not Italian, and pretend that I don't exist. The guy at the reception is friendly now that I've asked about his arm in the gesso (cast) and tell him buona giornata every time I leave.
I've been going to the same gym for almost a year now and I see the same people every time. I don't generally talk to anyone because there really is no occasion to do so. It's quite empty in the morning, so I just go from macchina (machine to lift weights) to macchina without much trouble.
Today, I was on one of the macchine (machines) and I noticed that one of the guys had put a weight on it so he could use it. He walked away from the one I wanted to use and was in another area lifting weights.
When I got up to the macchina, the guy was walking toward me. "Stai usando questa qui?" (Are you using this one?) I asked pointing to it. "Sì. Si può alternare se vuoi." (Yes, we can alternate if you want). "Hai voglia" (Certainly), I happily responded.
After he completed his set, he walked off and I did mine.
He came back to do another set and said, "Di dove sei?" (Where are you from?).
"Sono della California" (I'm from California), I responded.
"Sì...non sono l'unica" (Yes...I'm not the only one), I said as I looked around me. Today there weren't many Americans, but there were a few working out.
"No, ma sei l'unica che parla italiano" (No, but you're the only one who speaks Italian). I wanted to explain that I lived in Florence, but I realized it didn't matter. Maybe he should change his judgments about us Americans.
He walked off while I did my set and then came back again.
"Ma...sei della California vicino a Livorno?" (Are you from the California near Livorno), he asked.
"No, l'altra in America." (No, the other one in America), I responded.
"Ma, lo sai che c'è una località che si chiama 'La California' vicino a Livorno?" (But, you do know that there's a place named 'La California' near Livorno), he said.
"Sì, l'ho visto su un cartello una volta." (Yes, I saw it on a sign once) "Grazie ancora di aver alternato con me" (Thanks for alternating with me), I said.
"Niente" (It's nothing), he replied.
I'm pretty sure that the next time I go to the gym, I will probably not even salutarlo (say hi to him). I did ask his friend once to help me change the bar on one of the macchine, but since that day, he has never said hello to me again.
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