Saturday, July 14, 2012



As much as we love Mirko, we were hoping not to see him again quite so soon;however, it was just a day later that the changeover to the Made-in-China sensor did not result in telling our well it was time to send more water to the holding tank.

The first indication was an unsuccessful attempt to flush--not such a happy way to start the day. But Handy Hubby had previously figured out a solution for that: go out, open the top the the tank, reach in for the sensor, and give it a good JIGGLE. Or two. Or three.

Unfortunately, despite its cheerful color, the new sensor seemed not to have gotten the message that this was how it was supposed to behave:Jim jiggles, and il sensore swings into action. We began to be nostalgic for the old sensor, which at least had known the drill. Time to try shouting into the phone again to get Mirko to return.

Mirko's next visit revealed many new wrinkles, both about sensors (and a hitherto unknown magic luce rosso that needed to light up to show that water was even available to be summoned) and about Mirko's fascinating love life. I asked to see a photo of la Bella Nicoletta, and we all had to agree she was plenty cute.

Then, to my surprise, he admitted everything! Yes, he confessed with his Mona Lisa smile, that he was indeed stalling marriage to la Bella Nicoletta! According to his sidekick, Diego, there is even a great Italian word to express a 35 year-old boy's reluctance to leave his mother. Visions Of Peter Pan defiantly singing "I won't grow up. I won't grow up. I don't wanna go to school," etc. flashed through my brain. But the story is more complicated.

Mirko was among the last group to be drafted to perform mandatory military service, which was a major trauma in his life. One minute everything was hunky dory and he was returning home from electrician-ing to another delectable lunch prepared by mom;the next, he opened an official-looking letter that resulted in cries of agony all around:he was to report to the barracks to fulfill his military duty.

Those years left their mark. Yanked away from the nest and mom's savory cooking, his head shaved, he was subjected to the very harsh, spirit-crushing realities of military life. His mom never stopped crying, and not just because she missed her boy. Without his salary, there were financial hardships, as this obligatory service was unpaid. Recruits were allowed just three short visits a year, and no pasta "care" packages. But everyone in the family survived, albeit with a trace of PTSD that is not going away any time soon. Ditto for Mirko.

So this put a whole new spin on the plot to keep marriage at bay. Maybe la Bella Nicoletta even understands this, as she continues to endure life in the cozy bosom of her own family, where mom's cooking is first rate.

Mirko is looking for a good picture of la Bella Nicoletta to show us.

Here's the famous Mirko Mona Lisa smile.

With Diego at the wheel, our two heroes drive off into the Umbrian sunset.

Word of the Day: Mammone

(I found this while researching the word Diego had used to describe Mirko’s very efficient and satisfying living situation at home with his mom. His beloved grand-mom also lives on the same property.

Now who would ever guess that a way to expand one’s Italian vocabulary and knowledge of the culture is to have a heart-to-heart with the cute electrician when the well runs dry?)

“Something you notice right away in Italy is the power of the Italian mom. Not to say that other cultures do not have the typical ‘mom’ figure as well (e.g. my own Jewish mother), but for some reason, the mammas in Italy are a whole other level. Specifically when it comes to their sons.
Mammone, coming from the Italian, mamma, or mom, means mamma’s boy (or mama’s boy). Having lived in Rome for two years, I have met my fair share of mamma’s boys, or rather, I have met very few non-mamma’s boys--speaking only of Italians…
What are mammoni (plural of mammone) like, you ask? Well… they must always be home for dinner, never do their own laundry, wear matchy matchy kid-like PJs, never make their own coffee, must always be home for Sunday lunch, never iron…just to give a few examples.
Mammoni  are always great to poke fun at, but one has to remember that it is not common for Italians to move out of their houses at 18, like it is in most other countries. (MIRKO HIMSELF USED THIS SAME EXAMPLE IN HIS OWN DEFENSE) Italians do not generally attend universities in cities far from their hometowns, and more practically, living on their own is not something they can generally afford (boo Italian economy). Therefore, it is (sorta) understandable that Italian boys become super coddled by their mammas, and don’t gain true independence until they are married (hopefully).
But let’s not forget, no one will ever compare to their mamma’s!
Disclaimer- no offense to all mamma’s boys out there!” 
Mammoni – Mamma’s Boys in Italy
“Mammoni, (Mamma’s boy) is a term applied to single Italian men who are still living at home with their mothers. This is actually a common way of life in Italy, and more than half of the young men still live at home in Italy. In the 18-34 age group almost 60 percent of all single people, men and women are living at home in Italy. And many of these men are in their 40s and 50s!
My friends from Sicily, Angela Teresa , and Angelica tell me this is true and this is why the marriage rate is down in Italy. I actually had several conversations while I was in Italy with young men who were married, and they validated the fact that unless a young man is married or working in another city, he lives at home with his family.
This video recently shown on 60 Minutes with Diane Stahl is a perfect depiction of this part of the Italian culture. The mothers like it too despite the fact that they are doing all the work. They like having their sons at home. As the video explains, even after a young man does get married, he still lives within a very close proximity to his mother, and she very may well still be doing his laundry. The video is 13 minutes long but really an eye-opener, and the interviews with the Italians are priceless. You have to love them!”
Leslie Stahl Video on 60 Minutes about Mammoni


What could this be?
My very patient 32-year-old son was helping me publish these mammone/mamma's boy definitions when I realized what a serendipitous opportunity this was. I grabbed my iPhone camera, the only one I can actually understand how to use, and tried to capture this post-modern moment.

But just to clarify, he is NO mammone. Even though we built him, his wife, and their dog their own private area of the house, they only choose to live here in the summer (to be near their work, of course). If they wanted to stay longer, however, we would certainly not complain.

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