Thursday, September 20, 2007


Exercise 23

Tiber Market
August 20, 2007
After dinner, we walk down to the Tiber. Speckles of light line the river. I smell barbeque. I see steak and fries. Is this really Italy? I realize the level of class as I see those gaudy gigantic beer barrels doubling as table tops. You know, plastered with that Italian brand. I’m happy we ate elsewhere. We walk further until the rows of trinket vendors flank our right side. Do I have that? No. Do I need that? Pause. I don’t think so. My friends flock to a corner stall. They sell those bohemian-esque shoulder bags. The zig-zagged and striped patchwork of color are only enticing enough for me to muster a glance. I find the food much more interesting. A bright stall painted in complementary colors caters to fruit lovers. What is that jagged hunk of pinky red flesh? How clever! They’ve carved the Colosseum out of watermelon, the crowning piece of their fruit stand. Their advertising works. I want to take a spoon and continue carving until the structure slides down ‘brick-by-brick’ into my stomach. We head back the way we came. This time I look at the river instead of the stalls. A putt-putt course of algae floats atop the water. I hope Rome’s fountains aren’t connected to that.

Smells of steak and fries
Riverside vendors delight
Colored orbs of light

Lazio versus Torino
August 25, 2007
I enter the white triangle-topped stadium. Stepping into the seating area, a tapestry of black circles in a sea of bronze comes into view. It focuses into a mass of Italians with their black hair and tanned skin. All these people stand together, shoulder to shoulder. From my seat, I watch an enormous light blue flag flap in the air and warp the wind into an echo of slowly gargled water.
Dots on the grass green field move so quickly. They chase the ball with motivation. I have never been to a professional ‘football’ game before. I do not know all of the rules. The crowd of supporters is what grabs my attention. Every Italian here knows the chants. I wish I knew more Italian. They sing in unison. How do they know when to sing each song? Cult stereotypes fill my mind. My eyes flick up and down with the arms of fans saluting the teams. This heat has the worst timing ever. Beads, no, marble-sized balls of sweat slide along my cheeks. My shirt feels damp. All the people here care about the game. All the people in America care about the food. I’ve only seen one food vendor in the stadium. The customer count was three. By halftime, a smoky haze has formed within the stands. My poor lungs. I hear a familiar chant. I hum the tune with the crowd. Am I becoming Italian? It’s a valiant start.

Sea of sweaty fans
Chant in unison for teams
Sport induces pride

Returning A Gold Top
September 14, 2007
8:47 AM, I arrive too early. Someone has moved the plastic clock diagram in the doorway to read 9:30AM. Forty-four minutes later, I return. The paper white models wear the fabulously ‘in’ styles for the upcoming fall months. I remember the last time. Summer dresses marked with sale tags. Now there are no such displays. Peering along the walls of clothing I fan my fingers through the fabric and slide shirts aside. Nothing I want. Everything here looks like something I could find at Target. I feel the bulge in my purse. It reminds me of my real purpose. Quickly and assertively I make it over to the purchase counter. A wailing baby accompanied by an embarrassed mother step speedily away after her purchase. My turn next. I pull out a crumpled paper bag with their orange logo and hand it to the cashier. Crinkle crinkle. A skeptical gaze into the opening signals my hand as it gropes around for a waxy paper receipt.
Of course she knew I wanted to return it. Why did I buy the thing in the first place? She pulls out the gold sparkly top with frills. I must have been mad. A few clicks of the keyboard and scribbles on the receipt and she hands me the makeshift store-credit card.
I innocently say “I want cash.” Relief fills me. I already saw the selection. I don’t want to buy anything. She points around the store with her hands and mumbles something about “in store.”
My poker face stays blank, this time I voice “I need cash.” She counters with “Come si dice..? come si dice…?” I pretend not to follow. My glazed-over and confused expression holds. Maybe I should play poker for money. I repeat “I need cash” staring her right in the eye.
She lifts her pointer finger in the universal “one moment please” sign and picks up the phone. Seconds later she concedes and opens the money drawer. I don’t think she spoke to anyone on the phone. Blue and red crisp Euro bills make contact with my palm. My grandest victory in Italy thus far.

Enter with purpose,
No translation transaction
I strut home, I win

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