After their primal fear of Air (see Posting below), the Italians, I have found, also have an incredible fear of Water. And, if you want to throw into the pot the fact that the entire country is burning endlessly from heel to hamstrings due to the sex-crazed pyromaniacs lighting it ablaze, one might even come to the conclusion that over here, the three basic elements of life are a sort of unwanted necessity; good for making pasta, but bad if you have any more intimate contact with them.
I try to go to the pool every day. When I leave the gym, however, heads turn – and not because I in any way resemble Marilyn Monroe or Paris Hilton for that matter. People stop what they’re doing to stare, as if I had gotten out of the shower and simply forgotten to put my clothes on.
They gawk and, even old ladies will stop me on the street to tell me what I already know: my hair is wet. Actually, damp, but let’s not get caught up in syntax.
I have very short, thin, hair. Which means, in the usual 90 degree heat, it’s pretty much bone dry before I’ve crossed the gym parking lot. But for some reason, another Italian paranoia has been passed down by centuries of nonnine (little grandmothers), generation to generation, that, one must never ever leave the house with wet hair. Even in summer. You will probably catch your death (from what, no one seems to know).
I think back on those carefree summer days growing up in Michigan, pool hopping in the dead of night, riding bicycles to the lake and back, riding in cars to the beach, top down, my (long) wet hair blowing in the wind. And to think, I even lived to tell about it.
I cannot for the life of me figure out why I should, after swimming in chemicals, further damage my already-chemical dyed hair, by blowing it dry before going out in the burning sunlight. In fact, my hair dries so fast, I don’t even own a blow dryer (which, just to confuse newcomers, they call a Phon). But, come to think of it, if you’ve ever gone to an Italian beach, there they sit, thousands of people under umbrellas, guarding themselves from that other life-sustaining basic element, the Sun.