what we have learned so far is that in italy, aside from lunch time and dinner time, there is no time. we had an appointment for three o’clock for a meeting at our apartment with sonia, the fifty something aging italian starlet, cowboy boot, multilayered scarf wearing real estate broker, her son sidrik, who works for her and is beautiful in a botticelli angel kind of beautiful with pale, pale skin, wide blue eyes and masses of blonde curls. if he is not gay he damn well should be, sonia’s father-in-law, rafaelli and his not too bright daughter bernadetto and our new best friend the electrician, umberto, who you met in the previous blog.
when three o’clock had come and gone, as well as three thirty, howard called sonia. “yes, yes, no problem. we are our on our way”. and, an hour later, they all arrived together which was something of a miracle since the grandfather and bernadetto only live one flight above us. at any rate, as soon as the gang arrived, the apartment became a beehive of activity. the men were in the kitchen with hundreds of documents and contracts, all in italian, that they wanted howard to sign, while the women were in the living room loudly debating the pros and cons of the various manicurists they were each recommending to me. meanwhile, umberto was happily sitting in the corner, screwing and unscrewing various plugs. i am not sure what he was doing, but when he was done i know for certain that if the need ever arises that we should have to contact mars we will be the ones to do it.
at one point, when the whole gang retreated to the garden to argue over over plantings and placements over tables and chairs, sidrek pulled us aside. “i want to apologize for my grandfather”. “whatever for”? we asked. “well, he is very depressed and sad since the stomach cancer surgery last year”. “well that is very sad” we said, putting on appropriately sad faces. “well” sidrek said, “that is not the saddest part. his wife anna has divorced him”. “that is very sad” we agreed. “but that is not the saddest part” sidrek continued. at this point, i knew that if howard and i made eye contact, no matter how sad the next sentence was going to be, we were going to burst out laughing, so i willed us not to look at each other. he continued. “unfortunately, anna is crazy and so after she divorced rafaella she refused to move out of the apartment”. “oh, that is sad”. “no, no. it is even sadder. she refuses to speak to him”. we had to agree. this was the saddest story we had ever heard but apparently it got even sadder. it seems bernadetto is “not so right in the head”. it is her father’s burden. just as he was getting started on poor bernadetto, the group returned from the garden saving us from the grisly details. and i thought i was going to miss desperate housewives.
about ten minutes after they all finally left, bernadetto returned, with her father in tow. she had lost her cell phone and was sure it was some where in our apartment. she tore the place apart but couldn’t find it anywhere. she returned three more times in the next forty minutes, each time with her father, sad eyed from the cancer in the stomach, the crazy ex-wife and the daughter not so right in the head. hours later she returned to let us know that she found the cell phone in the back pocket of her jeans.
the rest of the day was filled finding a store that sold toilet paper, having an amazing lunch, walking out our front door to find that an entire flea market had materialized overnight on our doorstep and meeting the nicest people in the world. so far, i have bought a really cool wallet and eyed a pair of apple green high top tennies. i haven’t bought much yet because there are so many shopping days until departure although i must admit i have looked at a lot of beautiful baby clothes for my brand new, not quite, but almost, through the generosity of her parents dalyce and ralph, pretend grandaughter, magnolia.