Italians aren’t doing it anymore

May I ask a favor? Would any one interested enough to read a book or books of mine kindly review it/them? Thank you so much.

What the Italians don’t seem to do anymore is maintain the custom of couples being engaged for long, long periods of time before getting hitched, finally. I recall two women in my office at ARAMCO, one engaged going on 10 years, the other for eight. Salaries being so low, they lived with their parents while saving money for the future. I imagine their men were doing the same thing.

Liliana kept lists of her various layaway purchases, the method by which I acquired my splendid coat. She had half her living room furniture paid for by the time I met her. I don’t know what Berti was doing for his share of their life together, but I did know he worked for the Anagrafe, Italy’s God-blesses den of bureaucracy. There, behind a counter, Berti accepted applications from citizens trying to get permits to turn on their lights or turn them off, or sell an apartment, or, for all I know — move to another city. Actually, I heard that last bit from someone but cannot vouch for the information. Berti’s salary would have been dismal.

Lillian eventually did marry her Berti but within a year they were separated. Had they discovered something about each other not known before? Was married bliss not the bliss they had sought so long, after all? Was it all so dull, dull, in the end?

But — decades and decades later in 1989 when I returned with Renato to visit his family — I was bemused to learn that various members of the family were living IN SIN and appeared to have no plans ever to marry. And they were very casual about it, with an insouciance very much 21st century.

So interesting, I thought, so revolutionary for old Italy. Never in Sicily, though, you can bet on it.

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