Ciao a tutti! In my Lessons on How to Be Italian on Patreon, we have recently dived into a very typical Italian specialty all Italians master: the subtle art of ‘lo scrocco’.
What does ‘lo scrocco’ mean? According to the Garzanti dictionary, the verb ‘scroccare’ means ‘to obtain something at somebody else’s expenses’. Another definition from the Treccani dictionary goes: ‘getting to have something that usually implies a payment, without paying’. Examples are: ‘scroccare a meal’ or ‘scroccare a cigarette’. Another definition, my favorite because closer to how things actually go, is: ‘managing to obtain something for free having others pay for it or offer it’.
The real point of the art of ‘scroccare’ (otherwise it would not be an art) is having others spontaneously offer to buy you something or to offer you something for free, by subtly pushing them to do so using fine psychological tricks. The idea is: never ask anything openly and never have the other person think you do not want to pay for something (you don’t want to look like a jackass, do you?). You must actually act as if you wish to pay for your lunch and your friend’s; you must look very convincing while you walk, head up, to the cash desk and you must pretend to take offense if the other takes out his or her wallet as if they want to pay for the both of you. You must even start a little argument with your friend or acquaintance. Why do they not let you pay for Goodness sake? You must dive into your role using the Stanislavski’s system. You really are an outraged person. You hold your wallet in your hand as if you were Wagner’s Siegfried going to slay Fafnir with that nobody-can-prevent-me-from-paying-the-bill look.
But – here comes the stroke of genius – all of a sudden, when the other person is surrendering to you, you shake your head and humbly say: ‘va bene, ok, sorry, I did not mean to offend you. I’ll buy you a coffee next time’. It is very important that, if you are man, you place your hand on your friend’s shoulder looking very earnest. After all, who are you to take away the joy of offering away from your friend? If you are a woman you are supposed to blush a bit (if you cannot do it – mostly because you fear to burst out laughing – you just lower your eyes, that will do).
Those who really master the art of ‘scroccare’, manage to squint while their eyes start filling with (fake) tears. That’s the Art (and I hope you understand that I’m talking about ‘Art’ with a capital letter here) of ‘lo scrocco’.
For practical examples, go to my Patreon project 😉