Where Did I Get This Nose?

Clown hat with glasses and red noseThe five of us climbed a seemingly never-ending staircase that zigzagged up a retaining wall of dark stones. David met us at the top. It wasn’t the statue (we’d seen that earlier in town) rather a similar replica erected atop this meticulously landscaped hilltop park. We made our way to a railing and took in the sweeping view of the domes and red-tiled rooftops of Florence below. We strolled over to an expansive staircase where old men played cards. A bride posed for photos with her wedding party. We sat down. The late afternoon sun felt good and brought out such rich color in everything.

The kids wanted to hear a story from my teenaged years, so I started telling them about my worst date ever. Their Aunt Barbie set me up with one of her friends who I thought was a real fox. I took her to see the Doobie Brothers. Halfway through the concert she disappeared to buy cigarettes. After nearly an hour, she returned with a former boyfriend who was drunk, belligerent, and freshly ditched by his friends. My story was interrupted as I noticed Jill and Alex’s attention had been drawn away. “Dad, look.” Jill said, pointing to a man sitting on the steps below us.


“Look closer.” The man had his back toward us. His hair was dark and I could see a half-grown beard.

“It’s your twin.”

“He’s at least ten years younger than Daddy.”

“Thanks kids.”

“Seriously, Dad. It’s you.”

Intrigued, I studied the man. He had typical Italian looks, which boosted my ego. I’d concluded that Italians were the best looking people in the world. In spite of this I was troubled. The reason? – I’m German. At least that’s what I’d been told all my life. My father was born to second generation German immigrants, and my mother is at least half German.

Most Americans associate Germans with a certain look – fair skin and lighter hair and eyes – which each of my kids have – partly because Donna is fair.

So where did I get these looks? While my skin is fair, my hair is dark brown and my eyes are dark blue – so dark in fact that my best friend thought they were brown all through high school. The biggest culprit is my nose. It’s huge. In school my nose was always on time, but the rest of me was fifteen minutes late. I could wake up and smell the coffee – in Brazil. Seriously, you wouldn’t want to see the grindstone once I finished with it. Yes, the Lord giveth, and with me He just kept on giving.

Nobody ever thought I was German. Most thought I was Jewish, Middle Eastern, or my personal favorite – “something.” Growing up in an environment that was 95% white, I suffered from an identity crisis.

In Spain and France locals approached me speaking their language, assuming I was one of them. They looked surprised when I’d blurt out English. In Italy it happened even more. For the first time, I was beginning to like it.

NEXT: As Good As It Get’s


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