You’re supposed to, because—although you might be a psychopathic introvert—there’s always the possibility that someone will want to talk to you about it. If you grew up with Anglo toilets and then some cruel god teleported you to Italy, you’d think you were in Hell. It somehow disappears in the bowl. You’re done. You never see it again. It’s a horrible trauma for an Anglo and it takes years of therapy to get over. I’ve been in Italy now for 25 years and, at times, I relapse! Does that convince you that Anglos are anal?” Someone at the table where we were drinking applauded.
“Okay, but now prove that Italian are oral.” That was easy. “You’ve seen how much Italians talk? And talk over each other. There are 12 people at the table, having dinner, and they’re all talking. (One’s not? Oh, that’s because they invited a foreigner…) You know what? They’re not just talking, the women are yammering about recipes and what they fed their kids and the men are discussing the intimate details of their lunch that day. And they’re having dinner!” My voice had risen. “How much more oral can you get?!” (Little did I know…) I also pointed to the opposite logic. “I may not have enough proof to say that Italians are oral. I can, however, demonstrate that they are not anal.” That got everyone’s attention. “Try telling a fart joke in Italian company. You know, in the States it’s the backbone of any self-respecting comedy routine. Tell a fart joke in Italy and, well, you’d wish you hadn’t. Farts just aren’t funny in Italy. It’s incredible. How can you take the funny out of a fart? Yet Italians succeed. It’s beyond me…” Of course, we were on the second aperitif. Now in retrospect, I would like to qualify my statement: While the amiable Anglo fart joke is a conversation killer in Italy, you will find the occasional Italian who laughs at the joke—and may even make one himself! But he’s not really anal. He’s just on the anal side of the oral spectrum. Likewise, I would argue that you’ll find Greek and Italian communities shuffled into Anglo culture who will talk about food while they’re eating. I would put them on the oral side of the anal spectrum. After all, I have no intention of pigeonholing anyone or limiting any individual’s rights to pursue happiness.