Sometimes, when I’m struggling for a word in Italian and I’m too lazy to take out my dictionary or the situation doesn’t warrant such an interruption, I just “Italian”-ize an English word. Sometimes, it works beautifully. Like, for example, I once added an "o" to the word “jealous” and got “geloso”. It was exactly what I meant, so another time I added an "o" to "nervous" and was just as lucky. Er, successful.
Sometimes, the word you want is Italian. Like pizza or diva.
Sometimes, it's not that easy. Sometimes, it's like guido or bimbo. The former meaning, "I drive" and the latter meaning "child". It can make translating episodes of the Jersey Shore impossible and conversations interesting. Also, sometimes? Well, listen:
We were in L.’s new house in the hills outside of Ascoli with its very American open kitchen/living/dining area, and a rather international crowd having a lovely time together, drinking wine, cooking dinner. There was A. from France and her Italian boyfriend, a few Ascolani locals and L., V., and I from NY. Everyone there has been to the town we live in and know how quiet it usually is, so when they asked what was new here, V. and I were thrilled to actually have a bit of excitement to share.
On Friday afternoon, V. was standing outside chatting with someone when a car passed another and stopped dead in the middle of the street. Another car slammed on the brakes behind the first two. What had been the first car was now boxed in.
Then, the drivers of the two cars got out and pulled the people out of the middle car.
“Who these men are? What they wanted? Fight?”
We did our best.
We used bastardized phrases in two languages.
“Non c’e luce sopra.”
"Cars normal, no lights on top, clothes, um...."
I made the Italian sign for “arrested”, crossing my wrists in front of me. “You know…. they were…OK. The men doing the jumping and the pulling were, you know, um, how do you say? Polizia! Senza, uh, costumi. Um. Sotto coperto.”
Yes, they were police, without bathing suits. Under the blanket.
Turns out, the word I was looking for was incognito.