Sunless in Seattle

The Florentine in exile

Daniele Monti
September 20, 2007

All right, we hit the Seattle all-time high-temperature record last week with an unprecedented 97 degrees, but it was absolutely bearable—sunny, dry, and breezy. I must confess that I was actually enjoying it. However, every single person I talked to during that day was complaining fiercely and perhaps already planning a backyard rain dance later in the day.

 

In the nine years I have lived in Seattle, I have heard very few people complain about the typical weather—90 straight days (and nights) of uninterrupted drizzle—which leads me to believe that those who choose to live here actually LIKE this weather.

 

Being a Mediterranean, I find it entertaining to watch true Seattle-ites react to a hot, sunny day and the measures they take to protect themselves from the city’s evil heat wave. Old ladies on the streets clutch umbrellas in an effort to create a moveable shade; entire families rush into drugstores to buy as many fans as they can fit in their huge SUVs. Although there is no scientific evidence to back my theory, I truly believe that the amount of sunscreen used in Seattle last week was two or three times above the national average. Seeing children buttered in it from head to toe, I wondered which is more toxic. One scorching sunny day or the chemicals they had been marinated in?

 

Sadly, only 24 hours later it was all over—back to gray sky and thin rain—back to business as usual.

 

And speaking of skinI would like to comment on last month’s Financial Times article ‘Naked Ambition’, by Milan correspondent Adrian Michaels. Mr. Michaels was deeply bothered by the exaggerated use of scantily clad women in advertisements and on television shows in Italy.

It’s hard to argue with him on this. While I’m certainly not a puritan, I do often find it demeaning that almost 10 years into the twenty-first century, Italian TV and advertising minds can’t come up with anything better than strategically exposed cleavage to sell the latest cell phone. I find this model not only offensive for women, but primarily for Italian men, who are evidently incapable of comprehending non-sexually driven messages. As any ad exec will tell you, ‘sex sells’; however, it seems we are approaching a point where we are practically selling sex.

 

I had hoped we were beyond that, but it seems that my country still needs to evolve intellectually to achieve the level of maturity we should all be striving for. There is, however, a happy medium between Italy’s in-your-face sexually charged messages and the slightly Victorian attitudes here in the U.S. I remember an instance where my three-year-old daughter was ‘cordially invited’ to leave a public park because she was happily splashing around a wading pool with no bathing suit top.

 

Perhaps in the end it’s only a matter of picking the lesser evil: perceived sexuality on the flat chest of a three-year-old girl, or an executive who exploits the female form to sell electronics. It makes me wonder if there is much difference after all.

 

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