Wednesday, June 09, 2010

In the company of lunch with le Signore

One of my neighbors left me a handwritten note inviting me to lunch at her house.

I didn't know what to expect but ran down to the market the day of to get some flowers.

She has always been super nice (she knows my landlord) but before there was a huge language barrier. La Signora speaks Italian and French. Now that my Italian is stronger we can have a conversation.

There were a dozen women or so at the luncheon. The average age was mid 50s. I was the youngest person there and the oldest lady was probably in her 70s.

These women were fab. Smart, funny and fly (the accessories!). One woman said her wrinkles were getting worse and her friend replied, "don't worry nobody is wearing their glasses." There was plenty of food and wine.

The only other American at the party was African-American and has lived in Italy for over 40 years. She lives in the Center and was telling me what it was like living in Rome back then. She has known my neighbor for 17 years. All the women at the luncheon work out at the same gym.

Since that luncheon we bump into each other all the time. Hilarious.

I found out that my building is over 400 years old. Crazy.

When I lived in NYC, I knew my neighbors and our doormen. There was a sense of community.

I really missed that sense of community when I moved to L.A. You can find pockets of it depending on the area. I never did.

In my building, people barely spoke to each other. I lived next door to this one guy for years, never knew his name, or anything about him other than he had an annoying little dog and boyfriends with anger management issues. He didn't seem to work (he was home all the time) yet drove a Mercedes. I thought he could be a struggling actor but then he would actually have to leave the house for auditions or something.

Here, it's more like NYC or DC (where I lived after college). It cracks me up when I see one of the cashiers from the supermarket on the street and they yell, "Buon giorno!"

Some of the women at the luncheon were married and had grandchildren. The conversation was lively and covered a lot of topics. I tried to keep up. It was like hanging out with the Italian version of the Golden Girls.

The lack of plastic surgery really stood out to me. I don't know any women in L.A. in that age range who haven't had work done. Hello, women younger than me are getting brow lifts.

I thought about how older women are devalued or mocked in American society. It's ridiculous. I had to stop reading certain film websites/blogs because of all the hatred toward the "old" women of SATC 2. Criticize the movie but to say these women shouldn't even be on screen with their "leathery skin"? Are you kidding me? What's that about?

Love this scene from "Something's Gotta Give". So dead on.


Michelle | Bleeding Espresso said...

How fun! Sounds like an amazing group of women--and I love that film clip too :)

P.S. Kudos on your Italian!!!!

Shannon said...

I really miss things like handwritten letters. And yes, DC can be quite a distant city.

Ciao Chow Linda said...

I love that you found that group of women. My kind of gals.

dorina said...

what a wonderful lunch, with some very special neighbors! and you must be so pleased with and proud of your italian! i can relate to the age thing. i'm ashamed how american society worships youth and deprecates our elderly. i don't think i've ever seen a face lift that looked so natural that i didn't question it. i love how beautiful maggie smith is as minerva mcgonagall.

erin :: the olive notes said...

this sounds like a great experience...I was smiling when I read it.

oh and I saw SATC2 last night...def didn't like as much as the first, but found some things I did appreciate - one of the best things was seeing the women maturing. together. and growing even closer (to themselves and each other). :)

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

Michelle - grazie. Sto provando.

shannon - so do I. I lived in the DC in my early 20s. I enjoyed living there, it's a very transient place.

ccl - There were very cool ladies.

dorina - I don't understand bad surgery. I thought the point was to look "freshen up".

erin - Can you believe it's been 12 years since the series started!

Viajera said...

"The ladies who lunch". Awesome! I love hanging out with older ladies, but rarely get to do so. I really do miss that sense of community here in Canada. I think that in many big cities, it is indeed a diminishing commodity.

As to getting work done... I wonder why they make it so hard for us? I guess some people would prefer if the SATC ladies all looked like Joan Rivers...or Michelle Pfeiffer. :P

Anonymous said...

I love this post. I feel like I've moved from place to place trying to find a "community" - certainly didn't find one in LA (unless it was artificially created...either as a paid social group or fact, I've never felt lonelier in my life). When I lived in NYC, I felt frustrated because of the income disparities, but being out of college, I found many kindred spirits and created a community of sorts. Now I'm in the DC area, and perhaps it's because of internet or my willingness to participate in alumnae groups and meetups or whatever, compounded with DC being a fairly great city for bikers and pedestrians - I feel the human connections (and the female friendships) that I so craved in LA - it's not perfect, but it will have to do for now until I can figure out a way to move to Europe.

(Don't ask me about Dating in DC, though, that's a whole other story, and it's not a good one so far)

Kim B. said...

That is super cool. Sounds like a blast!!

You know, I used to go by my grocery store in suburban DC to commiserate with one of the checkout guys when my football team had done poorly (or celebrate when they did well). Wonder where he is now? His name is Dallas. You put me in mind of him!

Anyhooooo, love that the ladies had you to lunch!!!

Liane Spicer said...

Great clip! Is that Frances McDormand? I love her!

When I lived in Miami I knew none of my neighbours, but there was an odd man in the next apartment who owned an annoying little dog that loved to relieve itself in front of my door. The man often woke me at 2am by playing blue movies at top volume. At first I just thought the people next door were having a hell of a good time, but I eventually had to move my bed away from the wall to the other side of the room just to get a good night's rest.

I was quite happy that he looked through me and ignored my initial 'good morning' greetings which are de rigeur here in the Caribbean.

Finding that group of women is an amazing bit of serendipity. Women just get more wonderful as they age.

regina di roma said...

How nice! I miss my gal pals, Rome isn't the easiest place to make friends :(

Anonymous said...

Sounds fab!
Just a side note though- although your group of older women haven't gone under the knife (woo hoo!) I think you've been in Rome and Italy long enough to notice that plastic surgery is rampant here. There may have been a lack of plastic surgery at your luncheon but that certainly is not the general case in Rome, take a look around. On any given day I see handfuls of disfigured women with balloon lips, balloon boobs, and unnaturally tight faces- both young and old. Even if you watch the dreadful italian TV you'll notice that a majority of women on italian screens have had work done. Maybe 20 years ago plastic surgery was a rarity here, but not any more. Italians are making up for lost time!

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

viajera - I like hanging out with older ladies too. Regarding getting work done, there are plenty of women who have had something done but you're not sure if that's it or genetics, healthy living etc. That's the sign of good surgery. It's not supposed to be obvious.

anon - ha. I will not ask you about dating in DC. Trust my friends have filled me in. It was pretty bad when I was there in my early 20s!

kimb - it was. Wine at lunch always helps. heh

liane - yes, it's Francis McDormand. I know what you mean about crazy neighbors. There was a man in the building next door who went off his meds and threaten his wife.

anon - I moved here from L.A. where there is A LOT more surgery among the general population. Yes I have noticed very bad surgery here but none of my friends have gone under the knife. Meanwhile in L.A. peers the same as as my Italian friends are getting Botox, eye lifts, breast implants, etc. The only Italian TV shows I watch regularly are cooking shows, home/travel shows and SKY 24 news so I avoid all the veline with the bad surgery. I just don't understand why women would butcher their faces and bodies like that. Once you get implants, you have to redo them in 10-15 years.

regina - Interesting. I think it's easier to make real friends here compared to other cities I've lived in. There are different circles of course and some of the friendships are deeper than others.

Kiratiana said...

This lunch really does sound like fun! Did you learn anything from the women? And PLEASE tell me what you had to eat! I think I want to go to a lunch like that now!

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

kiratina - I did learn a lot from the women. It was interesting to hear their POVs regarding a variety of subjects.

The food was great, typical Italian but also some French cuisine. The dessert was a semi-freddo with a wild cherry syrup.