Italians are meticulous about cleanliness…….inside their houses. Outside it can look like it’s run down or neglected. Outside they’re happy to put up with dog poop in the street, throwing litter, overflowing rubbish bins, etc. But inside the house, everything must be spotless.
The shame is that this trait does not extend to personal hygiene. OK, so that’s unfair as not all Italians are like this (and, of course, some (many) Britons suffer the same problem). However, ride on any bus/tram/metro carriage, particularly in summer, and the stench can be quite unbearable. During the summer months I regularly take 2 or three showers a day (and, on a rare occasion, four).
But last night was a tad embarrassing. There is a person, in our building, who seems to have a problem with their water supply. I think the person lives on the fifth floor but I have obviously never met them, as I would remember, believe me.
Unfortunately, when the person leaves the lift, they leave behind an odour that, to be frank, makes me want to heave. So much so that, as they normally use the right-hand lift, I now will happily wait for the left-hand lift, even if the right-hand lift is ready to go.
We were a bit worried as we wondered if the other people in the building thought it was us or, to be more precise, the dogs. I can assure you it is not. Sure, when it rains they can be a bit whiffy, but that’s a doggy smell. This smell is an unwashed-for-ages smell.
Yesterday, as we were off to visit FfI, a friend who had a rather serious accident about a week ago, I was in a bit of a rush. With the temperature at about 35 degrees or higher, going to get some trashy magazines for her followed by essentials from the supermarket (wine, vermouth – oh yes and washing powder), I ended up with about four heavy bags (they use thick glass in wine and vermouth bottles ).
By the time I got to the flats, I was hot. I have this unfortunate ‘problem’, inherited from my Grandfather, of sweating profusely in heat when it is coupled with the slightest form of exertion. It’s not that I’m not fit, although I could be fitter. It has been happening since I was in my twenties, if not before.
But the sweating comes on big time only when I stop doing the exertion. So it was yesterday evening. I got in through the lobby door, collected the post and a lady from the fourth floor came in just after me and as the left hand lift was there, opened it. As I was getting the post, I slowed down a little. I thought ‘OK, I can wait for that lift’ (the other was on the fifth floor – and I know what that means).
However, she held the lift door open, seeing that I had a lot of bags, and offered to share the lift. I accepted and walked into the lift. The next few minutes for the lift to reach our floor seemed to last half a lifetime. >As soon as the door closed I did my usual impression of Niagara Falls. Unfortunately, it’s highly visible and there is absolutely nothing I can do to stop it. I try, in my head at least, to squash into the corner of the lift and I don’t look at her for the shame of seeing the look in her eyes. The look of shock or horror. I was grateful to escape the lift.
Then, as I am unlocking the door, I wondered if she thought it was me who made the other lift stink? I hope not.
To be honest, the heat last night (and hurrah that it has finally arrived) was so hot that no matter what I do I have a permanent film of perspiration. It gets worse after a shower, even if the shower is cool, but at least I feel clean. However, this is the weather that I prefer. I can shower as often as possible and would sooner do that than be even a little cold.