It’s the kind of thing the older one says, with facility, howling with laughter. An alliterative, language-loving mixture of her two mother tongues. Something I could never hope to concoct, especially not on the spur of the moment. Not even on the spur of the best of moments. I’m just too brittle. To English-oriented. As much as I love Italian, after 15 years it still doesn’t pour smoothly from my lips, nor mix honey-like with the Queen’s English to produce anything close to that lovely, macaronic nonsense.
In those silly words, are hidden references to her favorite things. Fairy tales. Clarisse Bean’s dreadful teacher, Mrs. Wilberton, who famously and fatly cruises around the school on “trotters.” The tried and true wedding vow. Rosita “Bean Plant.” (We love fagioli.) The play on lawfully—”waffly” being an awfully insightful description of many marriages. And that fabulous last line, which makes even my old-married heart sing with hope and pride: wonder-wife. As if we are all wonder-spouses, despite ourselves, simply for walking into the waffly arrangement of matrimony with our eyes wide open.
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