I was new to the country and I needed a job. It was early June, so there was lots of work as a stripper. I found a place that was looking for someone. I was shy at first, being the youngest there and having the least experience. I was also a bit embarrassed because I didn’t speak the language very well. But I quickly realized that most strippers seem to manage with only rudimentary phrases and no one minds their thick accents. Thankfully, one of the older men took me under his wing and taught me all there is to know about stripping. “Piano, piano,” he said as he showed me how to slowly and delicately remove everything. I watched him carefully as his fingers moved nimbly and gracefully. I learned by example and in no time at all I was stripping as well as anyone.
Wait, what were YOU thinking? I’m talking about working in a vineyard for Christ’s sake! Everything I’ve said so far is true. Don’t worry, I plan on giving you all the dirty details and every emotion I felt during my first days among the vines on Mount Etna in Sicily. It went something like this:
I knew what needed to be done and I knew how to do it. We had to remove all the excess growth on each vine to focus the plant’s efforts on a few clusters of grapes and to thin the foliage to allow the sun to ripen them and the breeze to keep them dry. Then we tie up the canes to a tall stake, streamlining the vine. I knew all this in theory, but I was a Sommelier who had never worked in a vineyard. It was time to get some street cred, check on the troops on the front lines, get some face-time with the vines; time to man-up, buckle-down and do things the old fashioned way. Anyway, you get the point. Get up early, get back into shape and get a great tan doing it. I can do this, I said.
I can’t do this. It’s too early. I’m too fat. Whoa boy, chill out. You knew it would be a few days before you’d get the rhythm. You’ve just been wearing the white collar for too long. You’ve got front-of-house hands. Relax, put your head down and try to remember what it means to work hard for a change. It will be easier tomorrow.
It’s harder today. Why did you lie to me? Okay, so I should have told you the second day would be worse. You’ve already learned a lot: you brought a knife and wore gloves. See? You’re making progress. You’ll have this down in no time flat.
It’s getting hotter every day! Am I in the Hunger Games? Are the other strippers going to try and kill me soon? It’s gonna be okay. Maybe sing a song? It will help pass the time. How about this:
Stronger than yesterday;
Now it’s nothing but my way;
My loneliness ain’t killin’ me no more…
Britney is not helping me feel manlier. Well, just suck it up then.
My skin hurts. I’m starving all the time and sooo thirsty. Time to employ some modern technology. Long sleeve Dry Fit shirt? Check. Gatorade? Check. Okay sunshine, today’s your day. Go get ‘em. Better? Good. Keep it up.
So today, you’re going to learn something new. This section of vineyard needs new stakes because the vines have outgrown their existing ones. Just grab that miniature sledgehammer, good, and see that pile of stakes? Go get a bunch of them. You mean those pointy quarter-trees? They’re seven feet tall? And I thought this couldn’t get worse… Just think of it like this: you get a break after stripping each vine. Except then you have to build a railroad on your breaks. I wish I knew a railway building song…
We work on Saturdays? I thought that Italy was all about family and leisure time? This sucks. Don’t worry, you’re off tomorrow. Just don’t try and go anywhere or do anything. Everything is closed. I mean everything. Except the Church. Maybe you should go and thank God for the opportunity to live in this paradise. No? To each his own. Buona Domenica. See you Monday bright and early!