Wednesday, May 14, 2008


In Venice, I walked into a restaurant and studied the menu board hanging above a small bar. I had only been standing there for a moment when I sensed a person next to me and, turning around, found the waiter. "I have a problem," he said, and I raised an eyebrow. "I only have tables here for two people. You could come back later?" Italy had seemed confused about the fact that I was alone, and it was finally taking action.

So I left. Tired, cold, and feeling suddenly visible from space, I walked into a restaurant a few doors down. They sat me immediately, and the waiter walked over a few minutes later, an old man with wild white hair. "You are waiting for someone? Should I bring bread while you wait?" I denied that I was waiting for someone but accepted the bread, and he knit his fuzzy eyebrows. "Your travel friends have all left you alone for the evening, hey? At your hotel, drinking wine? Venice, it tires some out." A little impatiently, I denied that too. I was alone in Venice, in Italy alone, just me everywhere.

He spread his hands and made a tragic face. "I hate to see a beautiful woman eat alone. Why you come to Italy without company?" I told him that I was there to think, and that seemed to confuse him completely. He thought hard and then leaned over, very close to the table, and said, "You come to Venice, most romantic city in the world, alone? To think?" I considered that for a bit. Venice, the most romantic city in the world? I thought about Venice's beautiful decay, how it is rotting richly from the inside and acting as though that is the only reasonable way for a city to be. Yes, that certainly slotted perfectly into where I was on romance, so I nodded, and he wrinkled his forehead and then walked away.

When he returned a few minutes later it was with a small bottle of Prosecco in hand. He looked very seriously at me and said, "You are a very stupid girl, and I think you know nothing. Here is some Prosecco from me. Maybe it will help you think."

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