I will try to refrain from using the phrase ‘when in Rome,’ because when we were in Rome, we said it all the time. You might be thinking: Have some respect for yourself, man. I’d never do that.
You are lying to yourself.
The phrase is a bit of a justification. Similar to “What Happens in Vegas,” only no one is going to think you have gonorrhea or a baby that you left in an IHOP dumpster off the strip when you say “When in Rome.” It’s applicable to things like: You ate gelato for every meal? W.I.R. You drank a bottle of wine with every meal? W.I.R. You drank a bottle of wine specifically before crossing the street? W.I.R. You brushed your teeth with gelato? You get the idea.
The only time we were acting like we were not in Rome, was when we were in bed. And no, this did not just get weird. Get your mind out of the gutter, dirty pervert.
After our first night in Rome we woke up around 7:00 AM. Feeling a bit tired, we snoozed our alarms… for four and half hours before we realized it was pushing 11:45 AM. That’s 70 combined snoozes between us. By the way, screaming “shitshitshitshit” over and over while trying to get dressed, was not an effective way of slowing down time, or a smart way of cheering on your wife to get ready faster, but is 100% great for making a mirror look disgusting while brushing your teeth.
Because of this our site seeing list hit the cutting room floor.
Any restaurant recommendation:
Me: We no longer have time to eat.
Me: I think it’s just paintings.
Her: You’ve seen one painting, you’ve seen them all.
Me: Do we even like domes? Have we ever talked about domes before today?
Her: No domo arigoto.
National Museum of Rome:
Me: We’ll walk by it. If the front door is open, see what you can see from the street, but we’re not stopping.
Me: We don’t have a choice, we have to go.
Me: Because I went to USC. You went to Purdue, if we ever see a coal mine, we can stop inside.
Days later, we learned the broader application of the phrase, as it also applies when you’re in Siena, but also that it can be used as a rally cry. It was 11:00 PM, we had called it a night after a big dinner, we were brushing our teeth (with toothpaste, not gelato), and in our pajamas, when in the bar across the street, someone started playing bagpipes.
Yes, real live bagpipes. Real live bagpipes are known to do three things: give goosebumps, bolster confidence, and change lives. Looking down at the bag piper, I day dreamt I was in World War II, in the trenches, Battle Crying at Nazis until their heads exploded, all while I rode atop my giant bald eagle named Gary.
My wife woke me from my reverie.
“Should we really go to bed?” she asked looking down at the bagpiper.
“I’ve brushed my teeth, I’ve flossed even, so I’m pretty committed to this going to bed thing.” She agreed and we went to bed. Such a mistake, those bagpipes were a call to arms for us to rally. By midnight, someone had found a snare drum, and recruited probably one thousand people in a drunken parade growing louder and softer, louder and softer, pulsing as they marched around the main square chanting soccer chants. Which we could all hear quite excellently from our bed. By 3:00 AM, an impromptu accordion folk dance contest broke out on our street, outside of our window. Us? Still in bed. The entire time we hadn’t slept a wink.
I just wanted it all to stop. I wanted everyone to go to bed, not because I wanted to go to sleep, but because I had this sick feeling of missing out. And I said nothing. Nor did my wife. We didn’t even realize the other was even awake. We both just lay there, pretending to sleep through what sounded like the kind of celebration that occurs after villagers successfully defend an attack from vikings. But no, this was just a Friday night in Siena. When in [fill in the blank], don’t lie in bed like an asshole if you have any reason to stay up and experience something unique.
I typically don’t have FOMO (fear of missing out), but the next morning I woke with 3rd degree FOMO burns all over my face. So did my wife. And we were both pissed, and acting pissed at each other. Snapping. Being quiet. Laconic. It was the only time we were being annoyed with each other on the trip. And we were really just mad that we’d missed out. It wasn’t either of our faults. It was just misdirected.
After waiting two hours for our bus to Florence (Firenze) that morning, barely talking to each other, we finally boarded. As we were about to pull out of the station, I turned around and noticed the bus directly behind us. Its sign stated: “Firenze Rapide” which translates roughly to “You stupid Americans are on the wrong bus.”
We both screamed, and ran off the wrong bus, and got on the right bus.
Adrenaline up from the mistake and a little bit stressed from carrying all of our unwieldily luggage down the narrow aisles, and still annoyed from missing out the night before, we looked for a place to sit and a cursory glance told us every seat was taken. Except for 1.
A girl had placed her bag on the seat next to her. So we approached, and stood right in front of her, expecting her to move it over so one of us could take a seat. Nothing. The bag remained. She just pretended there was something very important happening on her phone.
This is when I learned that in marriage, or any relationship, if you are angry at each other because of something that’s misdirected and neither person’s fault, you can either talk it through with them, or project all of your anger onto a deserving third party.
“Excuse me,” said my wife. The girl furrowed her brow at her phone, pretending the important thing just got upgraded to brow-furrowing level of importance. My wife turned to me, amazed with anger, “Oh my god, I hate this girl. I hope she understands English. I want to tell her I hate her.”
“I’ll look in the phrase guide for ‘you are the worst person on earth,'” I dug out the Fodors.
“I know how to say hate in Spanish. It’s ‘odio,’ I think.” Then at a loss for words, we mad dogged the shit out of the girl who wouldn’t move her bag for 90 seconds straight, before finally noticing two seats at the very back of the bus. We made our way over and sat down. My wife leaned her head against my shoulder “I should’ve told her ‘grazie mille,’ in a really sarcastic tone. Or called her the c-word a thousand times.”
“I love you.” I said.
“I hate her so much,” She replied.