Okay, I went to Rome, maybe the most important city ever in the history of civilization and so far I’ve written two blogs about run-ins with panhandlers. Mi perdoni l’Italia. Of course Rome has much more to offer than skillful beggars. The coliseum, the forum, the Vatican, majestic structures that are clear evidence of man’s intellect, boldness and faith.
This blog isn’t about any of that though. Rome is proliferated with scooters, smart cars and such. At first sight, to my American eyes, it looked like the city was a great big bumper car ride that someone had decided to build a city around. I’ve long since yearned for a scooter but friends nudged me away from the idea. LA being a sea of SUVs, they didn’t have to nudge very hard. A smart car would be safer if you don’t mind waiving your manhood and being shun by the community.
Here I was in Italy, where machismo was born and it’s perfectly okay for a man to ride a scooter or a smart car. I grew up next to an Italian neighborhood in Brooklyn. Nothing girlie about that hood or its inhabitants. Especially on Friday night if they’d been drinking.
It’s called smart for a reason but even the name can evoke jeers in the US where smart has somehow become synonymous with suspicious and elitist. Rome moves with grace and efficiency in no small part due to the small car sizes. I’m not saying we should all trade in our SUVs for smart cars. Just the people who have absolutely no need for SUVs should. Then again I completely understand feeling like you need an SUV just to drive and have a fighting chance amongst all the other SUVs. I still don’t have my scooter after all.
I just don’t know how success or manhood became dependent on car size and horse power. We need a champion UFC fighter to endorse smart cars. I’m not sure If I’m quite tough enough to turn the tide.