The Best of Notes From A Walkman Junkie: Mina Cries
Hey all, Anne is on vacation this week, so this is a reprint of one of her favorite columns. Enjoy!
I happened to catch a clip of a classic Italian variety show circa 1960-ish while dining out recently. It was one featuring Mina Mazzini, a popular singer who was basically the Italian version of Barbra Streisand during that time. Variety shows were and still seem to be exceedingly popular in Italy, so I saw my fair share of them during my trips to Sicily with my ex-husband, Felice. The ubiquitous Mina Mazzini, who only need go by Mina as she has reached an iconic status that grants immediate first name recognition, appeared often in these variety shows. Consequently, I became very familiar with her now-kitschy persona. Felice had taken to using the phrase, ‘Mina cries’ when he wanted to persuade me to do something. For instance, say we were out at a restaurant and he wanted me to try a taste of an item he had ordered, he would say, “Anne, Mina cries if you do not eat this.” Felice used this line most frequently in association with food (Mina had put on a great deal of weight over the years and was often photographed now wearing a large tent dress, carrying groceries with quotes underneath like, “Mina eats herself to death.”) but would on occasion dole it out under other circumstances as needed. I can cite its specific employment on the now infamous Mt. Etna incident years ago. Mt. Etna is an active volcano on the eastern coast of Sicily, and Felice’s family had decided to take us there on a day trip one afternoon.
There were various trails for people to trek up Mt. Etna (the HIGHEST active volcano in Europe) if they so chose. It was decided that we would all walk up the steep trail together and enjoy the brilliant view. As grand as this sounded to me, I started to instantly retrieve some of my height-related endeavours of the past, which all inevitably involved me crying, crawling around, and generally ‘acting a fool’; I thought it best if I gave this particular hike a miss. When I relayed my crying, crawling, acting a fool concerns to Felice, he simply dismissed it and assured me that I was overreacting, even throwing in an “Anne, Mina cries if you don’t climb up Mt. Etna with us”, for good measure. I assured him that it was I, not Mina, who would be crying if forced to partake in this excursion, but in the end, against my better judgement, agreed and joined the procession up the mount. The journey upward was okay, mainly thanks to my staunch fixation on the path ahead of me; going down, however, was an entirely different story.
The moment I turned around to face the narrow, brutally steep path down the other side, feelings of imminent doom set in and things got ugly… and weird. Tears filled my eyes as I promptly planted myself on the ground, refusing to move and proclaiming irrational statements like, “Leave me, I could live here quite comfortably for years.” Completely mazed by my bizarre actions, Felice’s family carefully hedged their way around me and continued down Mt. Etna, AKA my new place of residence. I repeatedly expressed to Felice, while sobbing and firmly grasping the soil beneath me, that it was impossible for me to get down. After witnessing my display of unreasonable jack-assery with utter disbelief, he turned to me and questioned, “Are you pulling my foot?” (Felice was heavily prone to slightly botching common English sayings). I guaranteed him that no one was pulling anything, feet or otherwise and implored him to please leave me, as I clutched fist-fulls of dirt, insisting that I could just stay right where I was indefinitely. At this point, Felice was irrevocably miffed at me and quipped, “Go ahead, knock yourself up” (see aforementioned phrase boggling) and joined his family, who was now nearing the base of the mountain.
Aside from actually making a home for myself on Mt. Etna, which quite frankly was sounding like the more propitious solution, I was left with no other alternative than to somehow make my dissension. Trepidatiously, I began to scoot on my bottom, inch worm-style, all the way down Mt. Etna; a crowd, including Felice’s family, had now gathered below to observe the idiotic American girl’s buffoonery. With tear tracks down my face, covered in dirt… and shame, I eventually made it all the way down my volcano of discontent.
I shall leave you with a kicking tune from Black Moth Super Rainbow in the hopes that good music may wash away the traumatic revisiting of my Mt. Etna woes. Also, if you do not listen to this song, ‘Mina cries.’