BASTA meaning ENOUGH…is a word Italians use in a variety of daily interactions.
BASTA… “I’ve had enough food, I’m content”.
BASTA… “I’m done shopping, and I am ready to pay for my purchases now”.
BASTA… “This discussion in over!”
The first time I heard the word used in context, was at my local butcher. The woman beside me was ordering, when she was satisfied with her choices her response to him was a friendly yet firm…. “BASTA”. My ears perked-up as it sounded like she called the butcher… “bastard”! Due to this initial misinterpretation, I’ve developed a fondness for the word, BASTA… it’s so expressive (like Italians themselves passionate & blunt, yet decidedly charming)
Picture this “BASTA” scenario if you will….It’s +39 degrees celsius (102F) at 4:00 in the morning, and I’m unable to sleep due not only because of the heat and my apartment being located on a busy street near Piazza Ferrucchi. Directly below my bedroom window, is a bakery where they sell fresh bread, deserts, pizza and panini (sandwiches). In addition this particular bakery runs an illegal, middle of the night, take-out window. Their hours are 12:30a.m. to 4:00 a.m. serving the local teen/twenty-something crowd, who seek a snack after all night clubbing. Young people in Italy are not excessive drinkers, they are however unrestrained in their talking. Even the quietest of voices carry upwards in these narrow streets lined by stone buildings.
As a business owner myself, I can appreciate that the proprietor of this establishment earns much-needed income in the early morning hours, in Italy’s struggling economy. What he fails to comprehend is… as one of the many residents without air conditioning, I have two choices; roast behind closed windows & shutters in the scorching summer heat, or endure the racket as a seemingly endless barrage of teens on vespas roar-up alongside the curb, park, greet friends enthusiastically, order gregariously, then sit on the curb “chatting” until such time as they run out of words.Afterwards, they reve-up their scooters, and drive off with a spirited salutation – “arriverderchi amici” (goodby friends) to their remaining companions scattered along the sidewalk.. This friendly farewell is charming at 1 in the afternoon, conversely it’s not as lyrical on sweltering sleepless nights.
In the wake of several nights insomnia, the unremitting heat wave, and adolescent voices permeating my head… I experience a behaviour malfunction…. for reasons I can’t comprehend, I bolt out of bed to have a “little chat” with the errant baker… unfortunately for me, I’m dressed in skimpy nightwear, a pair of well worn slippers, and a serious case of bed-head. I march down 3 flights of stairs, swing open the main-door from the stairwell to the street, and spring-forth unexpectedly onto the sidewalk. The startled faces of several teenagers stare back at me, the astute youngsters scatter like pigeons in San Marco Square.
I stomp my way, (not sure if you can actually stomp in slippers, but lets call it stomping to aide in visual clarity) the short distance from my front door to the buzzing swarm of teens waiting to order a late night/early morning snack. This unexpected arrival of a scantily clad woman, silences every voice as I forcefully weave through the flock making my way to the front of the line. I ignore the order window, instead thrusting open the employees only door, only to find myself in the middle of a cramped commercial kitchen. The proprietor is immersed in his routine work, his full attention is focused on the searing forno (oven) before him.
The only interaction he is accustomed to at this hour, are the faces in the mini-window ordering pizza, paying with exact change, then disappearing from view, replaced by yet another browned eyed, dark haired, ravenous, pre-pusent patron.
On a side note: over the past few weeks, I’ve gone over in my mind what I’d say if I ever found myself in a face to face discussion with him. Never once, in my wildest imagination, did this bizarre scenario play out: with me out of control at 4 in the morning, disheveled hair, clad only in pyjamas & slippers. Why is it that reality never quiet matches ones imagination?
The astonished baker is immobilized as he listens to my tirade about this being a residential neighbourhood with apartments in every direction… we the residents are unable to sleep because of his take-out window. In addition I’m using enthusiastic hand gestures pointing out each dwelling that is within ear shot of his loud early morning customers. For additional emphasis I throw in BASTA,BASTA, BASTA!!! (enough, enough, enough!!!) My hands are flailing about, and in the heat of the moment, I raise my left hand under my chin, and flick my fingers from my neck to the end of my chin….. I instantly freeze with the realization of what I’ve just done! This is beyond disrespectful, and totally out of line on my behalf. This inappropriate insult recoils me back to reality, and ends my rant….He on the other hand, apologizes to me promising to close-shop in dieci minuti. (ten minutes)
Did he just say dieci minuti? Where have I heard that overused phrase before??? (see my previous post dieci minuti)
I raise my hands in exasperation, frustration, embarrassment, and finally defeat… It’s clear that nothing will change, he’s simply trying to get me out of here so he can continue cooking. As I turn to leave, I’m conscious of a dozen or more pimpled faces clamouring at the open door, eagerly watching this exchange between their beloved baker, and the wild haired lunatic wearing only nightwear, and slippers.
To add additional insult to injury, the baker purses his lips in my direction, raises his eyebrows, squints as he looks me up and down, smiles a crooked smile, then WINKS. Oh my God, is he seriously hitting on me right HERE? Right NOW? After I just berated him? I let out a frustrated Aghhhhhhh!!!!
The throng of wide-eyed teenagers scurry out of my way as I exit through the open door.
My temper tantrum abated, I calmly walk home in slippers, Pj’s, and my undisciplined hair.
Climbing the staircase I devise a new plan…. I type three words into my computer search engine: “APARTMENTS FOR RENT”
next post: “THINK POSITIVE MOM!!”