Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Outstanding . . .

. . . in my field

Actually that should be out standing in my neighbor's field.

I expected a new employee to arrive very late today, so I laid in some supplies. I included two very fresh loaves of pane comune from a little panetteria in Bagnoli. Unfortunately, the plane was stranded in Virginia, and he will not arrive until tomorrow.

Since Italian bread goes stale very quickly, I decided to give one loaf to our neighbors.

Thus began my imprisonment.

Because Napoli is not the safest city in which to live, most of the villas in my neighborhood have very high walls topped with iron fences (with spikes) and electric gates.

My neighbors' Judas gate was open, so I assumed they were home. When the gate clicked shut behind me, that changed to I hope they're home."

They were not.

Now, I am locked in their driveway, which also leads to a field behind their house. The field leads to a sheer cliff on the edge of an old quarry, or to other high fences around other neighbors' yards.

Being an engineer and a planner, although I was stupid enough to lock myself in, I remained scientifically clever enough to create alternatives:

1) Wait for neighbor - Not good. I'm in my house slippers, and it's rather chilly.
2) Climb the fence - With two recent break-in attempts in the neighborhood, bad idea.
3) Look for help - Around the corner, it looks like a couple of my landlord's employees are working in the field.

Upside: They got in - with a tractor, no less. They must be able to get out.
Downside: There is no chance they speak English, and my Italiano sucks.

So, now it's "what the hell is "gate" in Italiano? Porta? No, that's door. Uscita? Close, but no. That's exit.

Ah . . . cancello. And aprire is "to open." And potere is "can you" or "are you able ." Now, what is the second person singular of potere?

But, there are two people there. Should I use second person plural?

Conjugate, dammit. Posso, puoi, può . . .

Forget it. Second person singular, it is.

Mi dispiace, ma puoi aprire il cancello, per favore.

(Roughly: I'm sorry, but is it possible for you to open the gate - please)

If I were in the water, sinking fast, and asking for someone to toss me a rope, I would have drowned before I composed the sentence.

But they opened the gate.

My neighbor is still rolling on the floor laughing.