Friday, June 15, 2012

Turning on the charm in Turin

As someone who is not tall, nor wealthy, nor overtly charming I often wonder what life would feel like with these traits.

And so it was, as I walked the open air market around the corner from my friend’s apartment in Torino that I began to notice something wonderfully odd. 

I looked around and discovered that I towered over women. I noticed that whatever I wanted I bought. I told merchants to “keep the change”. I smiled at complete strangers with reckless abandon. I strolled from vendor to vendor, spouting bits of banter that captivated small crowds.

Had I slipped into some alternate reality where one’s “best self” resided in a parallel universe?

I was beside myself as I returned to the apartment, laid out the spread on the kitchen counter and waited for my friend to return home for lunch. I spent the few short moments before he would arrive lying down on the sofa reflecting on what had created this marketplace Übermensch in me.

1) The feeling of being "tall" - It is true. I was considerably taller than those in the market, especially compared to the average female height. But upon reflection I will admit most of the Italian women visiting the market were over the age of 75, many of whom were rapidly approaching the adorable dwarf like phase of their wonderfully long, joyous lives.

2) The feeling of being "wealthy" - Wealth is a rather subjective term, but applied in this scenario I did in fact feel extremely wealthy, as I knew the relative price of prosciutto crudo (dry-cured ham) in the States was much higher than the highest price in the market. I paid 4 euros for what would have cost 20 bucks in America, and the quality wouldn't have even been close. Furthermore, prices in general were shocking - 50cents for bread, 1 euro 30 for fruit. With only 50 euros I felt I was rolling deep.

3) The feeling of being "overtly charming" - for me, to be charming is to interact with ease in the most foreign of environments. With that as my definition I realized anyone in the market within earshot could tell "I wasn't from around these parts." Which worked in my favor as I could sense the level of captivation skyrocketed with both the merchant and the nonnas, or Italian grandmothers, as soon as I opened my month. With a simple "Sono Canadese" followed by a big smile at both the vendor and the surrounding strangers I felt supremely charming.

Was this single experience in the market an accurate representation of me being tall, wealthy and charming. You can make your own call. But getting those tiny old ladies to smile was like shooting fish in a barrel. That's enough proof for me.

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