Cultural Exchange


Yesterday we had a kind of upper crust yard sale of women’s clothes. It was one of our fund-raisers for next January’s theatrical production, and it turned into quite a study of human nature. First, there were all those guys who felt left out. As we pointed out, there’s nothing to stop them putting on their own yard sale. Then there was the fact that the whole concept is so alien to Italians. The very idea of wearing anything other than top dollar, latest designs is as foreign to them as eating cranberry jelly with turkey. But curiosity got the better of them and they came.

The English and the Americans shopped in a very quiet, focused way. Garments were considered and short-listed, then those that made the final cut were tried on in front of a mirror. The Italians started nervously, fingering the silk scarves while eyeing the bags with their peripheral vision. They feigned ‘cool’ but you could tell they were excited by some of the stuff we had on sale. Then a feeding frenzy broke out. They gripped reserved items in one hand, not daring to let go of them till they’d decided if they wanted them, at the same time struggling to try on a garment.They didn’t bother using the changing rooms, I guess because they didn’t want to leave the sales floor and some other possible bargain unattended.

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Quite apart from the lovely lucre we raised (nearly 1000 Euro) I was so please with those Italian women. In terms of the bella figura they were walking out onto thin ice. They might have been seen entering a yard sale and leaving with a bulging bag. They risked total loss of credibility with the Sisterhood of the Designer Jacket. But they dared. And she who dares gets a beaded evening gown for 30 Euro.   

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