(When I was in my 20’s, my “go to” cursewords were all in Italian. I got away with murder because no one understood what I said. Then I married an Italian and had kids and my cursewords became their cursewords and my mother-in-law was NOT amused. So when Anne Bardsley, hilarious writer extraordinaire, sent me this piece, I knew I had to share it right away.. She has a great new book out – just read down to the end and you can find out more. – Lynn)
When my kids started using four-letter words, I decided to curb my colorful language. I’ve never been a potty mouth, but every so often, a curse word escaped. So I had the genius idea to use a few choice words in Italian. It’s such a beautiful language. Since God knows I don’t speak Italian, Heaven would still be in my reach. And so it began. My new go-to word was pastavazoul.
It was the perfect word for someone who stole my parking spot, the guy in the express line with thirty items, or when I stubbed my toe. I fell in love with the romantic way it rolled off my tongue! It was even better than its English cousin. Next I worked on my body language to perfect the insult. I’d seen it in the Godfather movie: fingers to the thumb, clasp, raise it in the air, shake the hand. Voila! The perfect hand sign for “Pastavazoul!”
One of my pet peeves is the lack of politeness while driving. If I let someone out in front of me, just a little “thank you” wave is all I expect in return. I find it rude not to acknowledge a good deed. That’s when I use my right hand in lobster claw clasp and shout, in my best Italian accent, “Pastavazoul.” I burrow my brow and purse my lips too. I tell them a thing or two about a thing or two.
My new approach was working great until my Italian friend, Italo, laughed when he heard me yell “Pastavazoul” to a man who almost hit my car. “Anne, it’s called Pasta Fazool. Why are you calling him lentil soup?”
“What? No! Pastavazoul is an Italian insult.” I puffed out my chest and shook my head at his ignorance. “I’m trying to trick God into thinking I’m not really cursing since I’m speaking Italian. My dad taught me pastavazoul when I was a kid. Didn’t you learn that in Italy?”
“No. And why would you think calling someone bean soup would be insulting?” he asked grinning at me.
“Hello! I’m telling them that they are being jerks. Why would I call them soup?” I thought he was incredibly ignorant not to know his own language. He grew up speaking it since birth. He laughed harder.
“Anne, you’re calling them lentil soup. You look like a crazed woman with your lobster-clawed right hand and that mean look on your face.”
“It’s for effect! It deepens the sentiment. They know I’m really angry when I use the lobster claw and look snarky.”
“I get that part,” he said. “You do look really angry and a tad demented.”
I was getting ready to “Pastavazoul!” him. Seriously, I said, “It’s a curse word. You should know that of all people. Just say it out loud and listen to how it rolls off your tongue. It’s just like saying, ‘You no good fool.’ The facial expression is the same. And believe me, they get the message.”
He was bent over in hysterics now, which really aggravated me. “What kind of Italian are you anyway? Italians know how to curse. I was just trying to keep my potty mouth clean so I didn’t go to hell. I thought if I used a different language, it wouldn’t count as cursing.”
“Well I think you’re pretty much Heaven bound with your watery insult,” he laughed.
“Listen, the kids are picking things up more and more,” I told him. “I really have to watch my language. They’re like little trash-talking parrots running around the house.”
“When the hell can we get ice cream?”
“Shit! I spilled my milk!”
“My damn school bag is too heavy.”
“Dad is a jackass.”
“This is the why I’m cleaning up my language.”
I made us lunch and before long, the kids arrived.
“Where in the hell have you been, Italo?” one asked him.
“Hey! Watch your language.” I yelled.
The younger one, yelled “Pastavazoul … I missed you, Italo!” as he shook his hand in the air.
I think we’re all going to hell, with or without a bowl of lentil soup.