Thursday, September 15, 2005
San Gennaro, sleep, and sausage
Carnies have taken over my neighborhood. What was once a quiet, quaint little area (lie) is now teeming with the buzz of power saws, the banging of hammers, and the unmistakable sounds of Italian Americans yelling at immigrants from Mexico and Mexico-type countries. Yes, it's that time of year again: The Annual San Gennaro Festival is coming to Little Italy.
According to the website, the festival celebrates the patron saint of Naples, Saint, um, Gennaro. Despite its religious themes, by the looks of both the website and the way the neighborhood is bracing itself, there is apparently plenty of room for revelry and partying. In keeping with the Little Italy motif, I presume this revelry/partying will involve loads of overeating bad Italian food, saying things like "Eh?", "Whaddya say?", and "C'mon!", drinking lots of cheap wine, and talking about all things important to Italian American culture, namely wearing lots of jewelry, sneering, "My son is such a bastard", Tony Soprano, and tits.
To be honest, I don't know what to expect with the San Gennaro Festival. I didn't live in Little Italy last year, and though I lived only a few blocks away from Little Italy from 2002-2004, I only ventured into the area one time (and that was at the behest of some Italian American friends visiting from Philly). So prior to moving in, I was probably more familiar with actual Italy than the tourist-catering imitation of it tucked into Chinatown.
But what I do about San Gennaro is that I should be very, very afraid. A few of you have written in and warned me about this, saying things like, "If you think the neighborhood is loud and overcrowded now, just wait!" and "Honestly dude, just take off that week and get out of the area." Whether or not this warnings are justified remains to be seen, but I'm certain I'm going to find out the hard way.
The festival officially starts tonight, so for the past few nights I've been gently rocked to sleep by the aforementioned hammering, sawing, and, of course, yelling. Last night was especially raucous; as the carnies, Mexicans, and Italian Americans made final preparations for the massive influx of people/tourists/morons, the noise continued until well past 2am. I thought (as I do work at a law firm and all) that making such noise after a certain hour was illegal. I considered briefly either opening my window to yell or perhaps even going down there to confront the perpetrators, but I didn't want to get into some Ital (pronounced eye-tal)-machismo battle, resulting in me having to look over my shoulder every time I returned home drunk at 4am on a weekend night. So I did what any reasonable, intelligent pacifist would do: a drank half a bottle of Nyquil and then threw up all over my bathroom.
Sleep eventually came, but it was only a short visit, as just before 7 I was roused from my sleep by more banging and clanging. Truth be told, I don't mind the banging and clanging so much. Rather, I can deal with it. All my life I've lived in cities (Philly, New York, a brief stint in London) or noisy areas (Boston College's dorms and surrounding apartments). As such I've developed an immunity to most loud noises when trying to sleep, having learned how to bury them beneath the buzz of my air conditioner and thoughts of boobies, bouncing boobies, all over the place.
[Gorgeous boobies that are all at once large but supple, soft yet firm, and above all, proud. Proud, resilient breasts.]
But one noise I have yet to relieve myself of is the power saw, that weapon of carpentry that sounds like a dentist drill on cocaine and red bulls. When the noise started this morning, it was only of banging. Relieved (somewhat), I turned over the other side of the bed and let my mind drift to happier thoughts (think: Elisha Cuthbert, shower, shaving cream and razor, pubic hair). But then the power saw fired up, cutting through the cacophony and sending a jolt through my body. It was going to be a long morning.
Eventually, I rose, got dressed, went to work, etc, and have been passing through the day like a zombie. Work has been what one who hasn't been sleeping much would expect it to be: a series of short answers and retreats to my office. When I'm not closing my eyes or thinking "God, I'm going to take four Xanax tonight at 6pm and sleep for 14 hours", I'm constantly checking the corner of my computer monitor for the time, like I have some sort of nervous tick.
And I have the great Saint Gennaro to thank for this. All the grief that I'm experiencing today, all the misery of the past few nights/day, and all the forthcoming "I can't believe there are so many fucking people here!"-ness, all because of the patron saint of Naples. Actually, that's not necessarily true. I'm sure Saint Gennaro, when he was just "Gennaro", roaming the streets of Naples and being a good - nay, great - Catholic, had no idea that centuries later a bunch of mo-mo's would use his life and example as a reason to set up fifteen sausage trucks and countless games of chance (i.e. break the balloon with the dart, make a free throw and win, etc) on a fifth of a mile strip in New York City.
But such is life. The only thing that I can do now is try to make the best of the situation. And if this means eating so much sausage that at night I don't "fall asleep" but rather "lapse into a meat-induced coma", well, then so be it. I've never been one to shy away from a challenge, so bring on the encased meats.