From The Book of Firsts: The Italian House

I learned a long time ago that different cultures decorate their homes in different ways. And it’s important to respect these differences. . .

I knew a girl that used to have to walk down the back steps inside her colonial style home. She was told by her stepmother that the front steps by the entryway were for adults only.
I knew people that had furniture in their home that were for adults only. There were no kids allowed on the living room couches.

I knew some families that had their couches covered in plastic. In addition to the plastic couches, some families had plastic runners along the carpeting. The runner was nearly clear, but slightly yellowish. The plastic strips ran along the carpeting in paths to absorb the heavy foot traffic and preserve the color and life of the carpeting.

I was a teenage kid and new in an alternative school. I made a new friend that suggested we go back to his house after school.
“Don’t worry,” he promised.
“I’ll get my mom to drive you home.”

I walked into his house and made the mistake of walking on the rug instead of on the clear plastic runner. In all honesty, I had no idea this move would be so offensive. The home was very clean. There was a lot of marble and tile near the entrance. The living room floor was covered in an almost red to maroon carpeting. All the oak colored wood furniture, the coffee table and end tables gleamed with a glossy finish. The glass covering each table was spotless and without streak.

Everything was pristine. There were several statues of Mary and Jesus. There was a cross on the wall and a Bible on the end table beside the florally decorated, plastic covered couches.
The home smelled from food. As I recall, the food smelled good too. The smell of sauce came from the kitchen. And taken in by the aroma of a good meal, my eyes half-closed and bloodshot, my mouth slightly agape in a freshly stoned teenage fashion;  my long scraggly hair messily covered over my face, and my semi-smile gave away the obvious fact that I was way too high to be in front of anyone’s parents.

I walked inside the living room without understanding the importance of the plastic runners. Next, I heard the sound of a shouting woman. I was quickly made aware of the runner and its location by my friend’s Italian grandmother.

The old Italian woman held a long wooden spoon in her hand as if it were a sword. The old woman yelled at me in Italian and aimed the wooden spoon as a direct threat to take of my head.

“What did I do,” I asked my friend
“You walked on the rug,” he said.
“What was I supposed to do,” I asked.
Slightly laughing, my friend explained, “You’re supposed to walk on the plastic.”

I had never been yelled at in Italian before. I had also never been threatened by a small old Italian woman in a blue house dress, wearing an apron, and threatening me with a long wooden spoon. She wore a strange slip on shoes with sheer colored stockings that went up to her knees.
The shouting grandmother must have alerted my friend’s mother who came charging in from the other room. The woman was slightly heavyset, black haired, olive skinned and angry—I mean very, very angry.

“What the hell are you doing on my carpet,” asked the outraged mother.

These people were new to me. I had never been to this house before and it became quickly and abundantly clear, I would never be invited back again.

The grandmother continued to shout at me in Italian until the heavyset mother silenced her with a quick Italian phrase. Heeding the mother, the old Italian grandmother lowered the wooden spoon the same way a soldier would lower their sword. The grandmother nodded at me with disgust, as if she would spit at me if she could, and then she waddled back into the kitchen, which I assume, was so that she could go back finish her sauce.

I stood frozen. I was unsure of what to do and why I was being yelled at. My friend was silent. He seemed frightened too.
The mother repeated, “What the hell are you doing on my carpet?”
This time, she asked in a much louder voice.

I remained still. I wanted to move. I wanted to answer. I even wanted to apologize, but I was afraid of the mother and old woman with the wooden spoon.  I was too high for this. I was not sure how to answer the woman or if I should answer at all.

The mother prosecuted, “Do you walk on the rug in your house?”

“I think that’s what we bought them for,” I answered.

“Get out,” screamed the mother.

“Get out of my house!”

The worst part about this was the mother had to drive me home too
She kept asking me why I smelled like burnt leaves.

Man . . .
time sure gets weird when you’re young and smoking weed


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