I happily remember summers in Vancouver when I would play outside with my friends, work up a sweat and then run in front of a fan to cool off and dry off. How nice would it be to get into my mom’s car with air conditioning blasting to cool you off! When I would visit my grandfather in the Philippines, I would run into a 30 degree and 90% humidity room and then go back to another room with the air conditioning blasting. I never got sick. Who in the world get’s sick from cooling off? Italians.
Italians have a serious problem with the colpo d’aria (a chill, blast of cold air). Everything is caused by the sinister and ruthless colpo d’aria.
- You have a headache? Colpo d’aria on your head.
- Your neck is sore? Colpo d’aria on your neck.
- You have a stomachache? Colpo d’aria on your stomach.
- You got a cold?
- a cough?
I have argued with my husband and complained with my expat friends about how this fear of cold air is all in their heads. I figured that since I never knew it was possible to get sick from a little breeze, I never got sick in the first place. How many times have you found yourself entering a mall on a hot day and feeling the blast of the air conditioning, the 20 degree change in temperature and LOVING IT? Exactly.
I didn’t dare challenge this colpo d’aria theory to my husband’s relatives. So, anytime I did have any kind of sickness, I would just bite my tongue and listen to their advice even if I knew that I caught a cold because everyone at work was sick.
One day, I was teaching Zumba during the winter and the mirrors started to fog up. I opened the window closest to me (as not to put my Italian zumba students at risk of catching the colpo d’aria) to defog the mirrors. I remember lifting my arms and feeling a cool breeze of winter air on my stomach. Then, the sudden urge to go to the bathroom. Oh. My. God. Colpo d’aria.
From that day on, I was a little more cautious about this colpo d’aria. I honestly notice the changes it can have on your body. I don’t know what to believe anymore. Maybe it’s in my head. Maybe it’s not. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older and am feeling the aches and the pains more than I used to. Or maybe, just maybe, I’m becoming Italian.