As with many languages, Italian nouns are either masculine or feminine which occasionally has caused me confusion. Perhaps the most alarming example was one summer shortly after we were married. In the middle of the night, Gustavo snapped on the light, grabbed a magazine, rolled it up, jumped up on the bed and started repeating, “I am going to kill her, I am going to kill her” as he stared off into space. I sat bolt upright. I was the only female in the room but he was not looking at me. He was focusing on various spots in space as though he were in some sort of trance. Still, it was disconcerting. “I am going to kill HER,” he said again. “Who is she?” I blurted out. “That damn mosquito who has been buzzing around my head for the past hour.” “Ah,” I answered, relieved. “And you are sure this mosquito is a she?” “Yes, LA ZANZARA, mosquitos are always feminine, bunch of blood-suckers!” I decided it was not a good moment for an argument about mosquito gender, so I pulled the sheets over my head and went back to sleep.
*Gaetano M., who drew the picture above, is my talented 12-year-old nephew.
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