Italians, Kids, and This Nasty Little Habit Called Sweating

13 Mar

Subtitled: One Reason I Will Not Be Going Back to Oklahoma, Where I Never Came From In The First Place

Hey, before I start talking about sweat—which, yes, does merit its very own post, thankyouforasking—I want to tell you something. Come in real close. No closer, come here. Pssst… I’ve missed you!

It’s been a while since I’ve gone an entire month between posts. Here at Casa Ruelle, things have been a wee bit hectic, what with Italian bureaucratic hassles (don’t ever have children because then you have to sign them up for public school, unless of course you’re rich, but if you’re not, like me, then, just don’t) and with multiple jobs (yes, I work) and trying to maintain my very fragile and tenuous grasp on stable mental health while also eating, sleeping, and occasionally even having a day of peace and quiet…well, let’s just say that yours truly hasn’t had all the time she’s wanted to share her silly and totally nonsensical observations with y’all.

And when I say y’all, I mean Y’ALL. Because today is the day folks. Not only did I get to delete a whole crapload of spammy comments from my blog, I also got to go through the non-spammy comments from February and reply, and Y’ALL is how I’m feeling because one frisky little commenter asked me why I don’t, quote—go back to Oklahoma and get lost—end quote. Now, seriously, how fun is that? Usually I don’t feature my haters because, you know, don’t give attention and what not (once I was asked if I ate a lot of paintchips as a child—such an amateurish attempt to attack my overzealous egotisical bombasticness! Of course I did! I sprinkled them on my Cheerios!), but this one charmed me because not only was it written with no H (so cute! In Italian the H is silent, so, you know, just throw it out when it appears in foreign languages and you don’t pronounce it, right?) but I’ve actually only driven through Oklahoma and so wouldn’t really have any logical reason to “go back there,” although, come to think of it, I could probably very easily get lost there. Because, one wonders: is that the state with the panhandle? Or is it just shaped like a pan? Did y’all know that the state name is derived from the Choctaw words okla and humma, meaning “red people”? Serious! Wiki said it so it must be true! Oh, the good times never end around here. Big sloppy kisses to my NUMBER ONE fan! This one here’s special just for you. All Americans sing like this at dinner. Then we pass around our handguns for comparison about whose is biggest (size matters) before we go off and start wars for no reason.

Oh, but folks! Enough of the jibber jabber! Let’s talk SWEAT and I mean it!

So here’s the thing. Italians have a sort of very not comfortable relationship with sweating, especially when it occurs in children and it occurs away from the home and might also be followed by exposure to air, most especially cold air. (My hands are shaking just typing this, in fear of a lightning bolt coming down directly from the hand of God Himself to strike me down where I stand sit.)

I have heard parents say to their children “Don’t sweat!” and that is the honest-to-God truth.

I’ve been told by other adults to change my own clothes if I’ve sweated, and that I’ll “catch cold” and God only knows what else.

Recently my son had his birthday party with another kid in his class at a sort of kids’ play place where they have those inflatable bouncing houses and slides and the kids sort of run around for 3 hours like wildebeests (do they run?) and do what kids will do when this sort of nefarious activity happens: they sweat.


Like, to the level of becoming red-faced Oklahummas. (I live in Italy so I don’t have to be PC.)

So the mom of this child almost didn’t want to have the party there because, and I quote, “The other moms have told me they aren’t sure if they want to take their kids to birthday parties there anymore, because, well, you know… they get all sweaty.

The mind boggles.

So, I was at a birthday party at this kiddy play place the other day (this one for a friend of my twin 4-year old daughters though) and I have no idea why I didn’t spot the anti-sweat containment area until now. Well, it isn’t actually called that, silly me! But, it should be. Because it’s sort of like a hazmat decontamination zone. Come to think of it, it should have had all sort of fun signs like this posted:


But, alas, it didn’t.

Anyhoo, here’s the thing. It’s this:


So basically, if your child sweats, you can take him into this area and dry his or her hair (shirt, clothes, soul).

I don’t know, people. Maybe it’s just me. I enjoy these cultural paradoxes and differences. I mean, you know, it’s the whole tomato tomahta thing:

Yes, calling the whole thing off would have been an option. Years and years ago. But no! I’m the paintchip-eating-not-going-back-to-Oklaoma-freak who actually loves living in a place where hair dryers are provided so that my children don’t … well, what happens if they sweat and then don’t dry themselves off? You see? So much for me still to learn. Oh Italy, mwah!

And if you think it’s just me making this observation—well, think again. Rossella Boriosi’s got my back over at How can you not love her when her “about” bio simply says “Banned from the best mother’s forums”? This article in Italian translates as The Eleventh Commandment: Don’t Sweat.

See? I told you it’s not just me! Even people who aren’t from Oklaoma know that you’re not supposed to sweat. Or something. We even have this old saying, passed down from generation to generation:


You see? Deep down, folks, we’re all the same. Now, can’t we just sit around a campfire and sing kumbaya? (Not too close to the fire, though. Because, well—you know.)


22 Responses to “Italians, Kids, and This Nasty Little Habit Called Sweating”

  1. rossellaboriosi March 13, 2014 at 12:39 pm #

    ahahahaha, right! “Run slowly! Don’t sweat!” if you sweat you get pneumonia then you DIE! If you sweat you get a cold then you DIE!”
    American girl linving in Rome, try to translate this concept: maglia della salute. (I know it’s a tough job but…)

  2. Shelley, Un'americana a Roma March 13, 2014 at 1:06 pm #

    sì sì un classico!!! I call it the “health shirt” sei fantastica!!! anche io ho tre figli e sicuramente sarei banatissima dai forum…anime gemelle :-*

  3. Joan Schmelzle March 13, 2014 at 1:43 pm #

    Good grief! Can adults sweat in Italy? If I recall long ago when I had to travel in the summer time, I sure did! Ah well!

  4. joy March 13, 2014 at 2:24 pm #

    enjoyed that sweaty story – it’s true! and then there’s also the draught?!! Had such a tie of it when i was teaching 6 yr olds!! was constantly opening and closing the Windows in awe of parents!!! x

  5. Giorgio March 13, 2014 at 2:29 pm #

    At least here in Italy we don’t profess an unwavering belief in the existence of the mythological sugar rushes… 🙂

  6. JoAnn March 13, 2014 at 5:05 pm #

    Shelley, you are an absolute treasure! I always look forward to receiving your posts. They truly brighten my day! Sweat on!

  7. Paula March 13, 2014 at 10:12 pm #

    That’s so true! My daughter and I travelled through Italy in August ( yeah ridiculousI know) and I said after much personal sweating and observation that ” you can spot the Italians from the tourists because they don’t sweat”. We would be searching for some minuscule parcel of shade fanning ourselves stupid while old men in suits and young girls in cascading hair would appear as cool as cucumbers standing in the hot sun (37 Celsius). And we’re from Australia! I thought a great title for a travel journal on Italy would be ” Real Italians Don’t Sweat”.

  8. triciatierney March 13, 2014 at 11:15 pm #

    I can’t believe that you have haters.

  9. rossellaboriosi March 14, 2014 at 10:15 am #

    Do not joke about the killing draught. The killing draught knows you. She knows where you live and she’s going to get you as soon as you open the window. If you open the window when you sweat, the killing draught gets you and you DIE (and this doesn’t just happens “sometimes”: it happens always! Watch out)

  10. rob March 14, 2014 at 4:22 pm #

    And what about the parents stop the kids to go in the water when they are on the beach?
    E quelle incinta che si comportano da malati terminali? 😀

  11. Shelley Ruelle March 18, 2014 at 11:22 am #

    Sure, sweating I guess is ok, so long as you have a change of clothes on hand. I think, if I’m not mistaken, is that the danger comes about when it starts to dry on you. Or something. Still not 100% clear on all the inherent dangers.

  12. Shelley Ruelle March 18, 2014 at 11:23 am #

    HA HA that’s right! The famous and infamous and nefarious spiffero or brezza or, heaven forbid, corrente d’aria! Shall we talk about cervicale? No, let’s save that for another day. 😉

  13. Shelley Ruelle March 18, 2014 at 11:24 am #

    Oh Giorgio, don’t be offended, I’m only poking fun. I do it at American stuff too. Our cultural exports to Italy in culinary culture consist of fast food, so you know, I make no claims to superiority around here.

  14. Shelley Ruelle March 18, 2014 at 11:25 am #

    Aw, that’s sweet! Sweating on for sure!

  15. Shelley Ruelle March 18, 2014 at 11:25 am #

    Well, I don’t know about that, is it some biological adaptation? No, Italians do sweat, they just aren’t really supposed to do so intentionally. I think.

  16. Shelley Ruelle March 18, 2014 at 11:26 am #

    Happens to the best of us. 😉 Thanks for the support though. Tricia’s got my back, y’all! [fist bump]

  17. Shelley Ruelle March 18, 2014 at 11:26 am #

    I think Rossella needs to lead an e-course online about the dangers of unruly air and sweat when combined, so we can avoid it.

  18. Shelley Ruelle March 18, 2014 at 11:28 am #

    Beh, vabbè, lasciamo qualcosa per il futuro, eh? Guarda che io sono stata incinta 9 mesi sull’autobus e nessuno mi voleva dare un posto per sedermi. Quindi, boh. The thing about the water and the beach does merit an entire post. I’ve even been told not to take a bath after eating because my digestive system could seize up and I could die, or something. There are lots of beliefs here regarding digestion and danger and water when mixed all together. I’ve always disregarded them and I’m still alive, but that might just be coincidence. Wet hair, anyone?

  19. Shelley Ruelle March 18, 2014 at 11:29 am #

    I know, they are a little Medusa-hair-esque, aren’t they? I’m just shocked the kids haven’t discovered them as a sort of diversion tactic. I guess blowing warm air at each other as a fun pastime hasn’t quite caught on.

  20. Tina Giamotti March 22, 2014 at 2:02 pm #

    Gosh, you crack me up. Very funny stuff. I’m going to Italy in 4 days ( I go every year)…’mwah’ to Italy..I am in agreement….now I’m worried about sweating, which I do after walking a gazillion miles in a day and, uh hum, having just entered my 5th decade on the planet…eeeeew

  21. Shelley Ruelle March 29, 2014 at 2:42 pm #

    Ha ha that’s cute. Have a wonderful, wonderful trip Tina! Buon viaggio!!! (PS Rule only applies to Italians ;-))


  1. 51 Things I Learned in Italy | Un'americana a Roma - March 22, 2014

    […] God forbid you sweat and then sit in front of a fan to cool off. (But if your children sweat, there are drying units available for them. […]

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