Shelley of At Home in Rome modified the famous "Six Weird Things About You" meme into the "Six Weird Things About Your City" meme. I'm an overachiever, so I'll tag myself with both. Anyone who would like to play along, feel free and then come back and leave a link in my comments so I can find you in all your weirdness.
Let's start with me:
1. I have neither set foot in a Starbucks nor drunk their coffee. Ever. I don't have anything against them, but we just never crossed paths before I left the U.S. Now I'm quite proud of this, so I will spend the rest of my life purposefully avoiding that caffeine-pushing Siren out of sheer stubbornness. Lucky for me, in southern Italy, this is quite easy to accomplish. I crack easily when it comes to coffee.
2. I arrange my silverware drawer in a very particular way and get upset if someone goes in there and moves things around. Of course all like items are together in slots, but the most important rule is that the bigger ones face up and the smaller ones face down (talking mostly forks and spoons here). And they are stacked, not willy nilly all over the place. Sharp knives all together *in their sheaths* as I don't need to be slicing myself reaching into the drawer. The rest of the knives congregate in another slot and wallow in their dullness. Don't worry, if you're ever a house guest, I won't ask you to put away silverware. In fact, I'll probably ask you not to.
3. I can recite all of the Presidents of the United States in order. Wanna hear? Washington, John Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, John Quincy Adams....OK, I'll stop. We had to learn this when I was in 11th grade to recite every week to our teacher as a quiz, and what can I say? Some things in my brain just won't give up their prized positions. On that note, sorry if I forget your name. There's only so much room up there.
4. I can tie a cherry stem into a knot using only my tongue. This has more value in the real world than most scholastic accomplishments, so, kids, get practicing!
5. I used to have an intense fear of fire, as in fear that my house/apartment would burn down. I can't say it was irrational because my family's house did burn down in 1971 (before I was born) and so THE FIRE was always part of our lore. On the other hand, seven years of college and apartment building 3 a.m. fire alarms only fanned the flames, so to speak. I'm getting past it now that I live in a stone house, but the fact that people burn off their land still freaks me out. A lot.
6. I have two different sets of 4 cups each.
The narrow, flowered ones are for coffee and the wider ones are for tea. In the morning, first I choose coffee or tea (usually coffee), then I pick the mug to match my mood and/or my outfit. Yes, my doggie is the only one who sees my morning routine, but this process grounds me. Get it? Coffee? Grounds? I'm here all week folks!
Moving on to the second half, which I'll call "Six Weird Things About Southern Italy (although some may apply to the entire country)." Now, to be clear, I'm not necessarily complaining, just observing. And remember, this is all from my experience, so if yours differs, do share in the comments:
1. The whole wedding process. This includes but is not limited to: (1) hand-delivering all invitations; (2) inviting 500 of your closest friends; (3) the fact that only women actually enter the church except for the groom, best man, fathers (maybe), altar boys, and priest; (4) as a guest, being expected to give an envelope full of money--anywhere from 150 euro per person on up is the norm; and (5) having to get married in the comune even if you have a church wedding. This last one is Italy-wide; only the ceremony in the comune counts as far as the state is concerned. After that, you can do what you like. More or less.
2. Another general Italian thing--milk in boxes, unrefrigerated and on normal shelves. I'm used to it now, but it's just an odd concept to get used to when you're used to a big ole plastic container in the refrigerated dairy section.
3. Southern Italians' proficiency with knives. I don't know if this is country-wide or not, but man, down here, even children are adept with knives. Maybe part of it is because they peel all their fruit, and I'm not just talking about oranges and lemons (which, incidentally, is also done with a knife). Apples, pears, really anything with a skin. Even potatoes get peeled with a knife as opposed to a potato-peeler.
And if you're ever in southern Italy up in someone's campagna, you're bound to see each and every man pull out his own pocket knife to cut up bread, salami, and cheese. Seriously, this is the go-to utensil, and when it comes right down to it, it is rather hard to argue with the logic; you can poke things/hold them in place like you would with a fork, scoop things like you would with a spoon, and of course cut. Weird but kinda genius.
4. The fascination with the wind. Shelley wrote about how people are always concerning with taking in the wind, you know, getting sick, and yes, this is true here as well, but I'm talking about the actual wind. The scirocco and tramontana are the biggies. At any given moment, someone is ready to tell me that the weather is all due to whatever type of wind blowing, and, for instance, whether or not I should take my laundry off the line because the scirocco is blowing up odd pink ash from Mount Etna that I'll never get out of my clothes no matter what I try. Weird but kinda cool, actually. I love the wind.
5. Female friendships. I'll probably get some flack for this one, but I'm going to say it: it's difficult to form friendships with many Italian women. Some are closed off to the possibility, others have far different interests than your average Western woman, still others are just worried we foreigners are just man-stealers. In their defense on that last one--show of hands! How many expat bloggers are with Italian men? Uh huh.
Anyway, it seems to me that many Italian women just have a different mentality regarding female friendships--that they are formed very early on in life, and after that, it's tough to break into the circle. Not impossible, especially where there are open-minded, curious Italian women, but difficult nonetheless. Weird and sad.
6. The strict adherence to the coffee routine. By this I mean the fact that coffee may be drunk in the morning, around 10, after lunch, and possibly after dinner. A cappuccino may only be drunk sometime before 10 a.m. as far as I can glean, and never, ever after meals. I know many of us expats have written about this one, but it's so weird and so prevalent that it bears mentioning yet again.
Come on, share your weirdosity with the world!