The following story hinges on the understanding of a famous member of Italian society, the Cafone. Now, over the course of several weeks, I’ve managed to get a fairly good idea of who the Cafone is, and he can be summarized fairly easily. If you imagine the whitest guy you know and imagine him trying to be a pimp from the seventies, you’ve created the Cafone. But the Cafone doesn’t need your creation, so get lost.
To celebrate one of the most beloved Italian characters of all time, four graduates of the Collegio Ghislieri decided to hold a festival in homage to the Cafone. It was called, and shall forever be remembered as, Cafonalparty 2010.
The entire day was colored by nearly childish excitement on the part of every member of the college. The normally boisterous Italians were able to reach new heights of noise, laughter and general joy. After dinner, everyone went their separate ways, cognizant of the transformation that was about to take place in every room in the college as, one by one, people set aside their pride and good taste to don the traditional garb of the Cafone.
Our little group of foreigners, consisting of me, two English, an Anglo-American, a German, and a Swiss gathered in the Anglo-American Ashley’s room before to wait for the arrival of the shuttle to get to the party. After a while, we headed outside to wait on the front steps of the College. My British little sister Emily showcased her questionable intelligence by asking why everyone was wearing coats and then proceeding to shiver for the next half hour.
When the shuttle arrived (half an hour late) we, according to our ancient Anglo-Saxon traditions, lined up (queued up if you’re British). Unfortunately, we forgot that we were not in Anglo-Saxia, but Italy. The Italians lined up in their distinctive fashion which involves a lot of crowding and pushing to the front. Not surprisingly, we were the last to reach the door of the shuttle and by that time it was already full. A regretful Cafone at the door informed us that the Cafonalshuttle was already full of other Cafoni and that we would have to wait for our Cafonalturn to go the the Cafonalparty. Heads low in Cafonalshame, we headed back inside to sulk and make sure that Emily didn’t actually die from hypothermia.
We waited a bit inside and then returned to the steps for the next shuttle. We got to meet up a with a whole new group of Cafoni, and I have to say that these ones were more entertaining. For starters, there was Gaia la Romana who is a girl from the college who is almost incomprehensible because she speaks half in Roman dialect. She was dressed pretty heavily Cafone, but it was hard to tell because it was strangely akin to what she wears every day. There was also Amar, who wasn’t dressed up at all except for a pair of sunglasses. Most strikingly, there was Alarico, a really big friend of my who reminds me of my brother. He was wearing a mechanic’s jumpsuit, a beanie, a bandana, and sunglasses. I looked at him, started laughing and didn’t stop for quite some time. Throughout the evening, he was a constant source of entertainment for me.
When the next shuttle arrived, even later than the previous, we managed to make our way on board and we were off to the party. We drove for about half an hour until we finally reached the turnoff for the party, marked by a piece of cardboard stuck to a signpost that said simply ‘Cafonal’. The bus turned onto the narrow road that seemed to head off into a field. Before long, we were on a dirt road and seemed dangerously close to falling into a canal. We assumed we had arrived as the bus pulled into what looked to be some sort of poorly lit abandoned compound. Despite the fear we probably should have been feeling, spirits were high and we disembarked and headed toward the music.
I would have been about the fifth to enter the building, but after the first three entered, they came rushing back out looking extremely embarrassed. At this point, I noticed that the music coming from the building was not the normal house music of an Italian party, but fairly heavy rock music. Apparently a band had been practicing in this building and we’d given them a temporary audience. We retreated quickly, not wanting to encourage that particular genre of music and crossed the compound to where we could only assume the party would be.
We pushed our way into the building hoping the door wouldn’t fall off its rusting hinges and found ourselves in what appeared to be an old house. Despite its state of disrepair it was quite charming and it was full of amazing people. We quickly assimilated into the crowd waiting at the bar to grab some drinks. The ‘line’ was moving fairly slowly and when we finally made it to the front, we figured out why. The two bartenders, who resembled Eugene locals, were busy smoking a joint while they slowly and carefully made drinks. Despite the time and effort invested, the drinks were mediocre. Luckily, the Italians once again proved my theory about alcohol tolerance and were all drunkenly content.
Now reunited with many, many Italian friends, I made my way into the other room where the party was. My friend Caparezza, who had given me almost every piece of clothing I was wearing for the evening, was the DJ with the help of Sacco who was playing the part of MC. The two of them are an amazing team and I felt like I was in the best discoteca ever. The music was fantastic and everywhere I turned I ran into a friend. It was truly wonderful.
Before long, Stasi the clever Italian made a reappearance in my life. He showed up wearing a rabbit-fur coat. It was so soft that I couldn’t help but stroke it. After several seconds of stroking, he had the good sense to suggest a deal: I could stroke the coat as much as I’d like, but the stroking had to stop after that night. I was down. The coat stroking held a prominent place in the rest of my evening, right alongside laughing at Alarico every time I saw him.
After dancing for a while, I decided to head back to the bar. I had the good fortune to receive what I maintain to this day to be the worst cocktail of all time. I went around making people taste it until it was gone. Everyone was as disgusted as I was and I felt vindicated.
I returned to the writhing mass in the other room and proceeded to dance the night away with a hundred of my closest friends. I’d have to say that, all in all, the evening was a huge success and that the people here have a way of making me feel unreasonably welcome at all times. I can’t stress enough how eternally grateful I am to my fellow Ghisleriani for being generally amazing people, despite how ridiculous they all are.