In Australia, it is common to hear someone say, 'You're a legend,' almost as a throw-away compliment. Legends, of course, are considered to have superstar status, just like Burt Bacharach, who recently passed away, and who will leave many memorable songs for us to remember him by.
But legends can also be small-town heroes, and whether a throw-away compliment or not, being told you're a legend, is pretty cool.
My Italian parents were legends, in their own right. They not only survived WW2, but then, left Italy behind to start up a boutique fashion business in the depths of Africa that resulted in some people calling them pazzo (mad), and even more unkind, cretini (idiots). Yet, their pioneering spirit shone through and they turned out to be legends, after all—they even came to be nicknamed "the beautiful people". They imported or created beautiful Italian fashion goods, and as needs must, started to infuse their creations with an African element that had customers calling them, legends, all over again.
This is an attitude and behaviour that we can all learn from as they certainly weren't cowed by public opinion—although there weren't social media platforms, in those days—but the gossip thrummed all the same and spread like the proverbial bushfire. How boring life would have been if they had taken the cretini comments to heart and not followed their dreams? A lesson for us all …
Then, over the hum of conversation, a strongly accented South African male voice broadcasts, “So, you’re the beautiful people!”
Eugenio and I both turn around to see what the fuss is about.
“You are the Piergiovannis, aren’t you?”
I gaze curiously at the stylishly dressed, young couple standing in front of us. They introduce themselves as the Commercial Attaché from the South African Embassy. “The Piergiovannis dress those who are beautiful, and therefore, you are the ‘beautiful people’.”
“You flatter us.” Eugenio lifts the lady’s hand to his lips in a traditional, brief kiss. “But since you wish to do so, we will graciously accept any compliments you want to hand out!”
“Oh, you’re charming!” the blond-haired woman flutters her eyelashes.
Oh, per l’amor del cielo—Oh, for heaven’s sake, I think to myself.
As Eugenio starts a conversation with the man, I’m left to chat with this same woman. Thankfully, we manage to find a common topic, that of the latest fashions in Europe. She’s certainly knowledgeable, and I think that my initial reaction might have been a bit uncalled for.