Oh well, perhaps southern Italy has whittling classes

Posted on April 7, 2010


The truth is, I don’t like to travel.

Oddly enough, when I tell people that, it sometimes bothers them.

But the fact is, not only do I not like to travel, in many cases I don’t even like travellers. This bothers some people even more.

Especially travellers.

I hasten to clarify, however, that it is not all travellers I don’t like. It’s the uber-travellers, the ones who lean back at the pub and talk in a bored, worldly-wise way about the “authentic” restaurant they “discovered,” and how (of course) it was “off the normal tourist track,” but they could actually “buy real Yak’s milk tea” there.

And they think it makes them cool.


Catch me paying good money while someone slips Yak’s milk in my tea? I don’t think so.

Who’s the cool one now, hmm?

Anyway, I don’t like travel, and I often don’t like travellers.

It’s not the travel part that bothers me. I can enjoy the feeling of movement, watching things go by, stopping here and there for snacks and what not. It’s entertaining.

But then there’s the arriving part. You spend all this time sitting in something that moves, pointing out various items of interest to each other, and then when you get off to go home you’re someplace else.

It seems like a mean-spirited magic trick.

I don’t care how interesting, quaint or cultural it may be, by definition “someplace else” is not “home.” And when you’re not “home” it’s more difficult to grab a cold drink, listen to your music, and watch your TV shows. In extreme cases of travelling, your TV shows might not even be in English. (And frankly, just the thought of Temperance Brennan saying “我不知道那的什么意味” is a bit unnerving.)

But then I ran across this ad at the top of my Gmail:

Summer Art Class in Italywww.cesmaonline.org – See Northern Italy & learn to paint walls

Okay, so I have no interest in travelling, and I certainly have no interest in seeing Northern Italy.

But, learning to paint walls? That’s a horse of a different kettle of fish.

So I clicked on the link and it took me to the CESMA website.

Now you probably don’t know what CESMA is, so I’d be happy to take a moment here to explain it to you.

But I can’t because the site is in Italian.

Think of the irony.

After all the effort my friends and relatives have put into trying to get me to travel, some involving methods my lawyer assures me could be termed “abduction,” when I finally find the one thing that could make me do it voluntarily and consciously, I’m blocked by a language barrier.

Oh sure, I could paint walls anywhere; I don’t have to go to northern Italy to do it. I could paint the walls right here at home. In fact, I’m pretty sure two people in this house already have plans for me along those lines this summer.

But it wouldn’t be the same. In northern Italy I would have been taught by a thin, balding, middle-aged wall-painting master descended from a long line of wall-painting masters. We would have studied walls for days, perhaps weeks before even applying an undercoat. Perhaps we would have mixed our own paints out of exotic, but organic materials such as egg whites, berry juices and termite eggs.

Course, I’m just guessing at the exact recipe here. Fact is, now I’ll never know.

So yes, at first I was somewhat devastated.

But then I began to think more clearly. After several weeks of wall-painting classes, no matter how intrinsically interesting they might be, there would come a time I’d want to start watching my shows again, but then I’d hear Temperance say “I don’ la t conosce che cosa quel significa,” which might be kind of sexy, but just isn’t right. That would make me realise that I was acutely homesick and I’d start to cut classes. Then my master would start shouting at me, saying that I could be one of the greats if only I would apply myself. But in the end I would cut short my training and take the next flight home.

And I would do that so I could spend what remained of the warm summer months with my own family.

In my own house.

Painting the god damned walls!

Fra Filippo Botticelli is disappointed in me.