GIOVENTU » Not married yet?

Over 21 and not yet married!


There are many many bonuses of coming from an Anglo Italian family.  You get to have a Nonna, you experience fervent  “cheek pinching” skills from Aunts and Uncles (who actually turn out years later not to be related at all),  and you don’t get boring sandwiches in your school lunchbox but veal escalope from the night before........ but there is a downside. The pressure of marriage........

 I was speaking to a friend of mine many years ago who was going through the traditional Asian arranged marriage route. On the surface it all seemed rather alien to me.... and then the bonbonieri dropped. The Italian culture is the same although “supposedly” more subtle.  You may find yourself  “accidently” sitting next to Barbara’s son at a dinner and dance, the same son that has been randomly dropped into conversation a few weeks prior.  Stock phrases like “lovely boy, (he’s 47) lovely family , runs the family restaurant, helps out at the church” delete as applicable are bandied about over Sunday lunch. In your early 20’s you don’t realise this is happening because you are quite happy getting on with your single, fun filled life but by your late twenties and God forbid single 30’s you are more than aware of what is being orchestrated.

 And then it stops.  All of a sudden people give up. Your parents stop looking and resign themselves to you being single forever. They just give up! This usually happens about 33. And it’s like it was a decision taken by everyone. The whole Italian community. There must be an age cut off point that is a well kept secret. Not only do you no longer sit next to Barbara/Nella/Luisa’s son, you don’t even get invited to the dances anymore. The standard question at the scampagnata and procession of “are you courting yet?” is replaced with a sympathetic nod.......

 Occasionally, only VERY occasionally, possible suitors are brought up in conversation and are sold to you like they never have been before. The selling technique would put double glazing salesmen to shame. Who was once a last resort becomes Mr O. Somorethanright. If you look past his job prospects, his age and his dodgy eye he is a really “lovely boy”.(He’s 74)

 If you have siblings the heat is off slightly, especially if they are younger or married.  They take your place in the missile firing line.  The younger suffer the same fate as you and the married.....well they were under the misguided naive impression that once they had found someone the questions would stop.  Oh how wrong could they be! Silly silly people........

 The couple get 17,000,000 questions about the wedding day (that’s after the 15,000,000 questions about the groom, particularly if he is not Italian) and even before we have all sat down to the Prosciutto and Melone people furtively ask about children.  Furtiveness is replaced by shameless direct interrogation after the ring has been placed on the finger...... “Are you trying? “ (for what exactly, to put up a conservatory?) I have often wished , on hearing this asked to contemporaries of mine, that they would reply.... “Yes he’s bloody irritating and I wish I had never married him!”

The questions go on and on.....and I should know. I have done the unimaginable. I have got to 40 and I am about to marry.............AN ENGLISH MAN.


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