We were out to dinner with some friends, who made a detour to our humble abode in Padova during their grand tour of Europe, and Matt decides to try a more complicated Italian sentence involving the formal conditional and the infinitive, with an attached direct object--perhaps he wanted to impress them, I'm not sure. Anyway, we needed a little plate "piattino" for Dominic. He gets the waiter's attention, interrupts him from his very, very busy pace, and politely (and proudly) asks him, "Potrebbe portarlo un piattino, per favore?" (Basically, this means (or should have meant), "would it be possible for you (in the formal) to bring him a little plate?") Matt was then quite miffed when the waiter responded rather callously in English, "you want a plate?" Yes. That's what I said, didn't I? I guess he was just too busy to properly appreciate my use of the formal conditional with an infinitive attached to the direct object. Or is it really that obvious that we're not Italian? Maybe it's our pronunciation? Sigh.
A week later, in Italian class, Matt mentions this little anecdote to his teacher, telling him what he asked the waiter. The teacher, well, the teacher just howled with laughter. Apparently Matt had mixed up the direct object with the indirect object and had asked (using the conditional properly), "Would it be possible for you to bring him on a little plate?" Oops.
It should be "Potrebbe portargli (not portarlo) un piattino," if you're curious.