You know how sometimes people say the strangest things…you listen giving them the benefit of the doubt until they mow you over like a lawn mower and you just have to stop, drop and belly laugh with WTF hanging off your lips…but nothing comes out cause you are foaming at the mouth with laughter. Well here ya go, a true story.
It was 8 PM ‘late dinner hour’ at THE CLIPPER in Padova, Italy and pizza was on the menu for this brisk January evening. Man if only I could jump off this page and share what a REAL ITALIAN pizza smells like I would so wreak havoc on you all! Italians are known for their long drawn out dinners that ‘ l a s t f o r h o u r s ‘ until someone (me) finally yawns and looks at their watch and claims ‘it’s 1 AM”. I am always so surprised how the restaurants just keep the TICK TOCK pace going and continues serving food, drinks, more food, more drinks, dessert, shots, more shots, more drinks until us foreigners realize at any moment our giant round overstuffed meatball stomachs are about to C O M B U S T! There is enough conversation said in one night to fill 3 American dinners…and it’s always such a chore trying to decipher where the current roll of conversation has gone. I always seem to get lost in translation between bureaucracy, politics and history but can always follow a juicy drooling story of someone’s affair with life.
While standing by the register sorting out the bill (waiters must be magicians because I can never figure out how they keep track on a mini note pad of who ate what) all 6 of us were fumbling with our wallets trying to decipher our tabs. Commonly in Italy, everyone usually pays equally no matter the bill and the “OSPITE” or guest rarely pays. I am fortunate and humbled by this Italian act of kindness every time.
As we were heading for the door, I heard my new friend Silvia gasp, making this distored face of eww and disgust and with lifted eyebrows she stares at Giorgio and says with her knowledgeable English words “Go on and tell her, don’t be reserved” then drops her gaze onto me and begins hysterically “Adam’s Family” laughing. That’s when Giorgio says to me in his broken Veneto English “You seen’a my tenni shoes, how old’a they are, I make sew together?” And I nod my head “Si” and then he begins to explain “I use dis (and he opens his mouth and motions invisible dental floss cleaning) to sew my very old’a shoes”. Well I am thinking to myself, ‘Ah, dental floss, smart move’ because my own mom will tell you that dental floss is a very hardy waxed thread and will hold nearly anything together well, especially buttons on a coat and great for a travel sewing kit. And I reply to him in my consistently improving Italian “Bravo, sei Intelligente! Mia Mama usa questo” Great, very intelligent! My mom uses this.
That’s when Silvia snaps her head back around like the 1973 film classic The Exorcist and barrels back into the conversation with “OHHHHhhhhhhhh, noooooooo, you must tell her the whole story” and that’s when her recurring facial expression of pure revulsion slaps me across the face like an ice cold pizza! “What, I thought, could this be about?” Giorgio then turns his body towards me at a 45 degree angle and shows off his ‘nicely sewn’ together shoes. After that glance, he proceeds to look me straight into the eyes and with a sly grin as dark and wide as the Grand Canal in Venice, he blurts out “You see I like’a recycle, I can not’a throw way the good string’a after I use on my teeth’a, so I use to sew my shoes!” At first my food was nearly regurgitate up like a bird feeding it’s young. But then once I got a grip on the hilarity of the situation (imagining him flossing in the mirror, wondering what to do with this excess used floss and then his manly ‘light bulb’ goes on, ding!) and took a second glance at Silvia’s puckered face gawking at my puckered face and we BOTH EXPLODED INTO LAUGHTER! I cracked into the biggest belly laugh of the year until sopping tears of my distaste coupled with hard core nauseated laughter brought me to my knees and that’s when he said with his very Italian smirk…
“But my stinky shoe always’a have a nice mint smell!”
Mint Floss, get it? BaH HaHaHahahahahahahaAhhhhhhhhhhhaaaaaa
FYI: Admittedly, he did wash the floss before he sewed his shoes, but he waited until we calmed down to add this little bit, and lots more I won’t go into detail, lol! Giorgio also had a sense of humor. Care to guess which guy in the photo it was?
SPECIAL NOTE: Giorgio decided to write his version of the mint shoes, from HIS point of view! Here is the ITALIAN VERSION…truthful and comical!
“Girava fiero per il paese con le sue scarpe orgoglioso di averle sistemate, contento di averle recuperate. Le sue scarpe: le sue più belle, mai avute prima.
Si sentiva un eroe per non averle gettate chissà dove.. magari in una qualsiasi discarica, come quando un artista finisce in una fossa comune .. accaduto a Mozart..e a Vivaldi. E chissà quanti altri.
No! Doveva fare qualcosa per aggrapparsi ancora una volta a questa effimera esistenza. Le scarpe lo rappresentavano; le scarpe erano per lui ciò che per un soldato è l’onore.. erano parte di esso, non poteva permettere che tutto ciò accadesse.. Doveva dare alle sue scarpe una seconda possibilità, una seconda longeva e nuova vita.. Ma al suo seguito, aveva sempre una miriade di cani e gatti.. lo chiamavano l’uomo che parla ai cani e ai gatti .. Sembrava tutto così semplice e incomprensibile.. Ma poi capimmo il perché di tutto quel seguito, costituito da animali affamati: il filo interdentale che aveva usato per sistemare le sue meravigliose scarpe, beh : era usato e sapeva di carne…”
Storia metropolitana di un bassista fantasioso.