status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage
I didn’t have many birthday parties when I was a child, in fact I can only really recall one. And before you breathe a collective Aaaaaahhhhhh and get the violins out, let me reassure you that the lack of festivities was entirely my own doing.
As an only child growing up in a tiny hamlet where for a long time I formed 50% of the under thirties, I was always far more at ease in the company of adults. In fact it is only now, at the ripe old age of 33, that I finally feel comfortable with my peers.
An afternoon spent in the boisterous company of other children, children who had learnt to play, squabble and communicate alongside siblings, extended family and other neighbourhood youngsters, was never easy for me.
And if the auspicious nature of the day meant that I was reluctantly forced into the spotlight, well, things really couldn’t get more torturous. The joyous rendition of Happy Birthday that sent me scurrying under the table in floods of tears, was the last straw.
I did quite enjoy other children’s parties, though. Playing pass the parcel, musical chairs, blind man’s bluff, pin the tail on the donkey… all with a tummy packed tightly with egg sarnies, crisps, jelly, chocolate fingers and cake. Then came the party bag with yet more sweeties, balloons, another slice of cake and some sort of plastic toy. Before finally staggering off, slightly green around the gills from the excesses of the day, but pretty well satisfied.
Italian children’s parties bear very little resemblance to any of the above.
And I ask you, who needs swimming pool parties, ice-skating parties, bouncy castles, clowns or magicians, when the following simple steps can produce much the same effect:
1. Lay out some dry focaccia, a few crisps, a few butterless salami sandwiches, some crostata and some juice.
2. Chuck a few balloons into the group of children.
3. Sit round the edge of the room trying not to lose your mind whilst 20+ children run around screaming in typical Italian fashion for a couple of hours.
4. Clear up.
5. Go home.
In terms of labour-intensiveness and cost-effectiveness, it must surely win hands down.
This is Status Viatoris, who can highly recommend an afternoon spent trapped in a room with yelling children as a powerful and effective contraceptive, in Italy.