Subtlety and sarcasm seem to be seriously lacking in the Italian language. Even the sales approach is straight to the point. Luckily for Italian salespeople, I’m usually so caught off guard by their directness that I end up buying whatever it is they’re selling.
Case in point: Sephora Rome
Due to Alitalia’s baggage limits, I had to throw out most of my toiletries to get my suitcases under the weight limit. Since I have now been in Rome for a month, I was in desperate need of face wash. Unfortunately, while I was ecstatic to find Sephora in Rome, they don’t carry the same brand that I use back home.
“How about Dior?” the saleswoman asked.
“Uh…” Long pause while I’ll try to figure out how to say that Dior is ever so slightly more expensive than what I usually buy.
She showed me a line of French products that met all of my requirements, but I balked a little at the Parisian price tag.
Sensing my hesitation, she deadpanned: “But you need this. You have a blemish!”
Zing! Thank you, Captain Obvious. But since she was right, and you can’t really argue with that kind of logic, I told her I would take the overpriced products.
As we walked up to the counter, she told me “I have a gift for you. It is a very nice gift.”
It was a very nice gift- a full size bottle of another product from the same brand. She must have really wanted to help me out with that blemish. That type of gift giving would never happen in the US, so I forgave her for pointing out my flaws.
But when I got home, I realized that my fancy new French face wash had just about the least French name I had ever heard- José Eisenberg. Ah well.