Monday, July 9, 2012

What are you looking at?

In my little world the Italians discovered or invented almost everything, and anything worth anything that they didn't invent they borrowed and improved upon, like the arch for instance, which was invented by the Mesopotamians, and used liberally by the Romans, who used its principles to create the dome and the vaulted ceiling. The Greeks may have invented Democracy, but the Roman's borrowed it, and invented bureaucracy  and graft.  The Chinese may have invented the noodle, but the Italians made it different thicknesses and shapes and added sauce and meat and cheese. da Vinci dreamed up the horseless carriage, but Italians (so they tell me) did not invent the internal combustion engine, but when they learned about the two-stroke engine they came up with the vast improvement of the four-stroke engine. Henry ford may have come up with mass-production and the boxy model T  but Italians came up with Maseratis, Lamborghinis, Ferraris, Alfa Romeos, Paganis,. Barossos,  Ghias, and Lanzas. America may have fallen in love with the automobile, but the Italians romanced it and taught it to dance.

One little car company in Italy has been swallowing up the others recently. FIAT now owns Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Lancia, and Maserati; and in 2009 they took a controlling stake in Chrystler,  they expanded that stake in January of 2012 in what has amounted to a merger, and the gorgeous little FIAT 500 with its almost 45 MPG highway, is popping up all over the American landscape, including my driveway out here in Bear Creek, North Carolina. In other words, we bought one.

I annoyed my beautiful and patient wife throughout the buying process by oft repeating :"Che cosa guardi, eh? Che cosa guardi?" the line spoken by the baby in the FIAT commercial, which means "What are you looking at, huh? What are you looking at?" Finally my wife said, "Are you done?" to which I replied: "Mi stai spogliando con gli occhi?", the line spoken by the hot Italian model who turns into the FIAT 500 Abarth in another commercial, literally "Why are you undressing me with your eyes." Of course the only thing she was doing with her eyes was rolling them. But don't worry she's had her revenge. We bought the car on July 5th, my Birthday, and thus far she has only let me drive it once,

If you happen to find yourself staring at a FIAT and someone says "What are you looking at?" tell 'em "I'm not sure, but it's Italian."

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