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The Talking Toilet At Tret

July 6, 2021

A flush always beats a straight but a flush can also beat your neighbor, or so I thought.

It was early in the morning and I slowly stumbled out of bed and into the bathroom. I was weary from the grappa onslaught of the night before and was trying to talk myself into beginning another day here in Northern Italy. The bathroom was warm from the wall heater and the pine toilet seat was also warm and comfortable. It is those little things in life that we learn to appreciate the most as we get older.

I sat down and readied myself slowly for one of life’s nominal tasks. After a few moments, there came a thunderous noise from beneath my ass. I thought it a good fart at first. But is sounded like someone blowing their nose; then something jabbered in Italian, the precise content of which I could not immediately make out. Odd though, that this discourse should issue forth from the very bowl upon which I was perched. I pitched forward a bit, craning my neck to listen more closely. Yep, sure enough, it was Italian punctuated by a great occasional honking of someone blowing a very large nose.

When you move from the United States to Italy, one of the first things you learn to accept is the concept of communal living. Owing to the high cost of real estate here, most people opt for apartment living. The other perhaps more imploring reason to live in an apartment here though is the fact that people here have been living on top of one another for centuries. It is simply the way things are done in this part of the world and most people here follow their ancestry in every nuance.

Our initial first-hand experience with this type of living reminded my wife of her childhood days in an apartment in Brooklyn. One evening, long ago, her father came home exhausted from a day’s work as a city fireman. Listening to the ruckus through the paper-thin walls, he grimaced and bleated out his summation in New Yorkese, “We’se live like mice!” My wife remembered this tale and shared it with me shortly after we moved to Tret and discovered that the walls and floors here are actually a great deal less sound proof than those of New York are.

Undaunted, we grudgingly accepted the concept of mouse house living. But like so many things here, our acceptance found its limits. Bad neighbors do not help this happenstance in the least and so it was with us when the creatures arrived downstairs. They were a couple from a big nearby city and at first glance they exuded a white trash quality that I had previously only thought to be available in the rural butt haired lands of far off America. Big city folks often tolerate more noise and more disrespect because they are both the recipients and givers of such. These people, however, seemed to take a special delight in being extra noisy, extra vulgar and extra insensitive.

The first morning of the talking toilet at Tret proved to be just the initiation of a long process without end. Invariably, sound issued forth from between my legs at every appointment with the cabineto and I was treated to a wide variety of foreign language learning experiences as I sat wiping my butt. These ranged from the simple expletives shouted from beneath me to whole discourses that echoed up from the pipes below. I did not previously know in fact that water was such a good conductor of sound.

I pondered on what to do about all of this noisy Italian springing up from beneath me. Should I speak to my neighbors? But could I speak on such a subject in a land where talking about the weather borders on the personal? No, I thought it better to remain zitto and so I said nothing for many months. But the sound continued and echoed through by bathroom like Poe’s Raven. In life, immaturity often becomes one’s only last-ditch defense and so I too was drawn to the dark side. I found a response to the racket below me. When I heard the nose blowing of the Canada Goose below me, I leaned into the wall and gagged like a dying old geezer complete with the sound effects of atomized sputum. I then would greet each new line of Italian with a curt flush; a small flush for a sentence or two and a really big one for a major argument ensuing beneath by bottom. Tit for tat, flush for flush, I continued until I was finally convinced that one of the creatures below had indeed noticed. They had indeed noticed but in their boorish world, it mattered not. The clatter continued like a bad impression from the film The Godfather.

Yes, here too we’se live like mice. Viviamo come i topolini! But, alas, in our mouse house the talking toilet of Tret continues to verbalize beneath my gluteus maximus and it seems that I am destined to forcibly listen. Another lesson learned as one of Italy’s latest (legal) immigrants.

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  1. That’s weird to me. Can’t imagine what my reaction would be.

    Liked by 2 people

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