But what can he truly enjoy, if not the haunting notes of the fado?

A few years ago, my parents watched our dog, Charlie, while we were away. When we returned, my mother said, “We took him to work with us. He was so funny. He liked to run from window to window, like a little Italian.”

Like a little Italian?” I said.

“You know," she said, "like a little Italian who wants to see what’s outside."

What I love about this is not only the nonsensical stereotype that my mother (who is Italian, by the way) chose to invent. It’s also the detail--who wants to see what’s outside--added for clarity. I suppose there are other reasons a little Italian might run from window to window. Perhaps to see if Giuseppe has arrived yet, his donkey cart piled high with bushels of fresh manicotti.

Since then, I’ve enjoyed inventing my own baffling non-stereotypes. I’ve been as happy, you might say, as a Portuguese deaf-mute. You know. A Portuguese deaf-mute, who enjoys things.