Thursday, November 12, 2009

Physics demands that when we nudge our buttered bread off of the table it will land butter side down. I wonder if these are the same rules that drive all of our coin tosses, if the side that has the most anticipation layered on top is actually the one that always loses. If it's our hopes that weigh us down.

On an evening in Rome I came across a fountain, which is not that uncommon an occurrence--Rome is liberally laced with fountains. I was exhausted, having spent the day getting thoroughly lost on streets that, I could swear, appeared on the map on the opposite side of town. I flung myself down next to the fountain, thoroughly discouraged, and halfheartedly tossed in a coin. And that was when I discovered I wasn't alone.

Lounging against a wall and smoking a cigarette was a girl who scoffed at me in an accent I couldn't place. How could I expect my wish to come true if I tossed it in such a desultory fashion? She demonstrated how it ought to be done, throwing a coin over her shoulder and winking at me when it hit the water with a satisfying plop. We passed a few minutes tossing coins into the fountain in the silliest ways we could think of--on one foot, between our legs, over the other person's shoulder. And wouldn't you know, when I left to plod along in search of dinner, my shoulders felt so much straighter.

I don't think any of those wishes have come true yet in fact but they have a little in spirit, and in either case I'm pretty sure that those coins, at least, landed butter side up.

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