Monday just before taking several paintings of mine to a local gallery for sale in December, I received an e-mail from a woman in Italy, confirming a sale of one of them, Goodbye…. She is excited to be able to get it, wired the money immediately, and asked me to mail it after Christmas when she’ll be back in Italy again after her Christmas trip to the States.
What’s remarkable about this is that just five years ago, it would have been pretty near impossible for this sale to have occurred. Joanne, my new collector in Italy, is literally a friend we’ve never met. Two or three years ago, my wife replied to an e-mail joke that was sent to her, and somehow managed to Reply To All (which is so embarrassing, if you’ve ever done that accidentally), and Joanne was one of several to have received my wife’s reply, since Joanne was on the sender’s TO: list.
Well, my wife is a very funny woman; a pro at quick retorts and smart-aleck replies, and she made Joanne laugh. Joanne wrote to tell her just that, and added a few funny quips of her own, to which my wife replied, and so it went, on and on to this day. Only we’ve developed a friendship with Joanne, who is roughly our age, an American who’s lived in Italy for years with her Italian companion Luigi, and they’ve known each other as long as Teresa and I have known each other. We’ve ICQ‘d with her live from Italy, we’ve emailed political musings back and forth, talked of God and religion, talked on the phone with her when she comes to the States, and even received a beautiful Italian handmade glass bowl as a wedding present in January 2003.
And Monday, she bought my painting!
It’s always a tremendous feeling, to this day, after 24 years of doing art for sale in one form or another, to have someone buy the stuff I do. But this one is just that much more special, since, like other paintings I have sold to personal friends: it’s going to hang in the home of a friend.
I love that!
Apparently she’s been talking it up among her relatives. This morning I received a quick little e-mail from one of her Italian cousins, Mauro, telling me in a sentence or two how much he/she (can’t tell by the name, but assume it’s he) likes the art on my website, in particular “Goodbye…”
Now wasn’t that sweet?
The slightly broken English told me it was probably an ESL situation, which warmed my heart even more.
I replied with an appreciative note, and then, “to make it easier for Mauro” (?) decided to copy all of my English text into the translate this box on Google’s Translation Service, chose English to Italian, and then copied and pasted whatever it gave me as a translation.
Yeah, I just trusted it was close to Italian, and that it said something close to what I meant.
Doing this reminded me of an old joke from the 60s (yes, I remember jokes from the 60s — probably because I didn’t “go though the 60s” like some of you out there with glazed eyes and slurred speech):
The Russians and Americans were having such difficulty in communication that the Leaders of each country were delighted when someone showed them a powerful new computer that could translate from Russian to English and back again. (Now you have to remember, any such computer in the 60s would naturally be huge, fill up a room or two, have rubber mats on the floor so that you and other computer users could walk around the machine without slipping, would be festooned with myriad blinking lights and whirring 1/2-inch tape reels, and probably have a steel cat-walk around its second story. So picture that, as I did when I was 10).
So the Americans want to give this thing a try. They type in an English phrase, and after some tremendous processing time, blinking of lights, and shaking of this monstrosity, there’s a loud DING! and out from a slot pops a strip of paper with what appears to be Russian text. The American hands it to the Russian who reads it and smiles with delight.
[To make a long story short] this goes back and forth, language to language, to everyone’s great pleasure, with everyone feeling like they are finally having a relatively quick conversation… until someone realizes they still are not sure what the other is reading, because they don’t speak the language. So an American decided to type in an American colloquial phrase: Out of sight, out of mind. DING! The strip of paper says something in Russian. The Russian diplomat looks at the translation with a confused look on his face. The American gestures that he should type in exactly what the paper says, so they can see how it translates back to English.
I have no idea what I said to Mauro. I never ran it back through from Italian to English.
I hope I didn’t inadvertently denigrate the family line, or call into question the origin of his grandmother’s salad dressing recipe.