I've finally returned from my belated Italian honeymoon - leaving a trail of broken hearts through southern Italy. I think Italy's main export is curves. It is like the entire country is a C cup. America's obsession with skinny blonde girls seems silly after being there. Girls in America look like someone put a wig on the number 1; in Italy it is like someone drew arms and legs on the number 8.
But that's not why we are here today - we are here today to laugh at my misfortune.
As part of the honeymoon, we visited my wife's family in Sicily*. They live in a town of about 11,000 - which is similar to the size of my hometown. I wish I could say it was the equivalent of Italian Rednecks, but they have style and don't kiss their cousins - which means they are missing out on all the fun.
We arrived on Saturday, just in time for a big town festival. I had just met her family for the first time (I'm using "meet" loosely here - since I don't speak Italian there was mostly polite nodding and confused giggling), and we were thrown into crowded streets of celebrating Italians. Almost immediately my wife and I were separated, leaving me wandering the streets with nothing but a beard and a positive attitude.
My saving grace was a kind Uncle and the friendly boyfriend of a cousin. In this instance, "saving grace" actually means grappa - which is more or less Italian Moonshine.
The Uncle and Boyfriend fed me shot after shot of the stuff. And that was before noon.
After a few rounds of grappa, some lunch beers, some lunch wine and more confused giggling, the Boyfriend convinced me we should go ring the bell of the church.
Now, this is an old city. We were going to climb to the top of the "new" church, which was 300 years old and next door to the "old" church - which was 500 years old.
We climbed up the winding staircase to find a bell roughly the size of my ego with some ropes hanging to the side. He grabbed a robe and started ringing this giant, 300 yr old bell.
I thought it looked fun so I grabbed the other rope and started to help ring the bell.
Of course, I had never rang a bell the size of a car before, so when the bell swung the other way, I didn't let go of the rope. Unfortunately, the rope also didn't let go of me, and threw me across the bell tower Macho Man Randy Savage style (too soon?).
I stood up with bloody knuckles, an untucked shirt and an awesome story. And became instantly the most popular guy in town (popular kids are the ones that everyone makes fun of, right?)
So while I have made my triumphant return to the States, my heart, and knuckles, remain in Italy.
*My wife is 100% Italian which is how I got away with writing everything in that first paragraph without having to sleep on the couch.