Monday, February 21, 2011

The Purple Prostitute Phenomenon

Upon arrival in Rome, I was told by a fellow American that the color purple signified prostitute.

I took care to avoid all things purple. I abandoned my purple knit hat and secluded my new purple scarf to the bottom of my closet. No one was going to mistake me for a prostitute.

As the days wore on, any glimpse of purple caught my eye. I saw women with suede purple high-heeled boots, luscious dark purple scarves and hats, and even some with shameless purple dresses.


Then I had my first Italian class. My professor, a Tuscan woman looking good in her 50's, showed up to class clad all in purple. The next class was no different. She was decked from head to foot in all shades of purple imaginable. I was confused.

Did my professor have a side job turning tricks and refused to change before class? Or had I been misinformed?

One night I asked my Italian friend. After a few amusing minutes spent attempting to define a prostitute and their relation to the color purple, I could see a light bulb click on over his head.

"No, no, no," he laughed, looking bewildered. "This is not true."

"Oh good," I thought as I looked down in sudden horror. "Because this shirt would have made things really awkward."

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