The New York Times has this profile today of Francesco Totti, the star striker of AS Roma and Italy's national team. Totti is known for his malapropisms, both real and apocryphal:
Totti goes into a courtroom. When the judge asks him for his defense, he promptly reels off his teammates' names, "Pelizzoli, Panucci, Chivu, Candela, Mancini."
Then there's the one about Totti's not wanting to go out for dinner because he is reading the New Testament and wants to find out how the passion of Christ turns out.
If the United States has its dumb blondes, Italy now has Francesco Totti to poke fun at. From the moment the 27-year-old Totti opened his mouth and began speaking in colorful Roman dialect, he quickly substituted for the Carabinieri, Italy's military police, as the butt of national humor.
But Totti is getting the last laugh. A year ago, prompted by friends and family, he collected the jokes circulating at his expense and published them in a book that became an instant, and surprising, best seller, with more than a million copies sold.
Here's what he has done with the proceeds of his book:
A second book, "The New Jokes About Totti, Collected by Me," was published May 11 with a first run of 480,000 copies. Two weeks after its release, it was No. 3 on the best-seller list of the Turin daily La Stampa.
If Totti did not technically write the book, he did not keep the proceeds either; he is splitting them equally between a project for senior citizens sponsored by the city of Rome and a Unicef project in Congo to help street children.
"It was an enormous gift for us," said Rossella Del Conte of Unicef Italia, which netted about $305,000 from the sales and a lot of publicity.
Here's my favorite Tottiism, although I can't vouch for its veracity:
Interviewer: How do you feel about the phrase carpe diem?
Totti: I'm sorry, I don't speak English.