Scene in Europe,
Famished in Firenze
Florence bustled in the early evening light as true Italians took to the streets in their finery, partaking in their nocturnal parade of pride and prowess. It was still early for aperitivo’s but the hunt was already on for the best place in town to sit, see and be seen. Sophie and Marty had found the terrace at Harry’s Bar, along the banks of the River Arno, the night before and today had downed two cocktails before the bells of the Santa Marie del Fiore had announced sunset. Marty was wearing the new tracksuit Sophie had found for him in Paris while she herself was in her usual colourful leggings, cerise today, and a lightweight North Face jacket beneath which she’d tucked her fanny pack. It was their third day in Florence and their 30th day in Europe and the sights and sounds of this whole new world were taking its tole on the pair of them, not to mention the demands of each others constant company.
“I mean, it’s all just darling, who could say otherwise, but it’s so old, Marty,” said Sophie, attempting to whisper through her gravelly voice, a tone below what her husband’s hearing aid could pick it up.
“What’s that, Soph?” Marty shouted, attracting attention from the terrace of coffee connoisseurs who preferred contemplating the gentle gyration of the Arno than overhearing foreign critiques on their celebrated city.
“Old, I said, Marty,” she replied with a raising of the eyes, wondering if any of his responses ever required her to not raise her eyes, and asking herself why he always had that damn hearing aid on so low? He never hears anything I say, she noted. “I just mean, well… I just wonder, don’t they ever wanna to build something new on this continent.”
“Well, I guess they could ship everything off to a retirement village, Soph, but I’m not sure it’d travel that well.”
“Oh now Marty, look at us, we manage to move around, relatively intact,” she said with a quick look down at his feet which were now outside his sneakers. She could actually see his bunions throbbing while she unconsciously rubbed her new hip that had been a little too active in recent weeks.
“Soph, honestly, I don’t know what you mean,” her husband told her between bites of his custard filled pastry that flaked down the napkin he’d tucked into the neck of his t-shirt as if he were back at the Lobster Lounge, although it did cover the gelato stain he’d gotten earlier from downing an ice-cream the size of his head in the Piazza della Signoria, “you wanted to see it all, Alice,” he reminded her, “while we still had the ability to remember it, or have you forgotten that already?”
“Well, it just feels a little dusty, is all. I’m entitled to my opinion,” she said, with that attitude of poor-unheard-little-lost-girl that he knew only too well had never ever suited her well stocked closets of opinions, “and I remember everything, Marty, believe me,” she continued as she looked him up and down, “I remember it all… sometimes too much.”
“Oh come now, Sophie, I mean really, you’ve always entitled yourself to an opinion, has anyone ever told you otherwise? Really Soph, as if? But what about that Duomo, the Santa Maria what’s her name, you can’t tell me you weren’t impressed by that massive erection?”
“Dusty Marty, dusty, and I can tell you, straight faced with just a hint of Botox, I’ve seen more erections in my time with a lot less dust,” she said with a shake of her head, annoyed she’d followed him down the erectile slope.
“So what about that Palace we just saw, the Pity something or other? They filmed Hannibal there, and you loved that.”
“Dusty,” she remarked as she took a look at her fingers as if to check for a residue before she pulled a small vile, filled with lubiprostone pills, out of her fanny-pack and knocked two back with the rest of her Mojito.
“Are you sure it’s not your glasses? Maybe that’s the only thing that’s dusty, Soph. I mean, I saw you take them off to look at the tush of that David.”
“Oy, don’t be vulgar Marty, I have a new hip, I don’t go that low anymore. Besides, a woman can still look, no? It’s nice to see what an ass is supposed to look like… now and again, besides the one we have to travel with,” she said, knowing that his would pass right over his empty head, currently covered with an Orioles baseball cap, “and would it hurt you to look at mine now and again? Maybe then I wouldn’t be looking at a giant stone one, Marty.”
“Soph, don’t be looking in the mirror then, your tush ain’t that big,” he said, with a chuckle that told him that he still had it; that charm, that wit that had first drew her to him.
“Oy… he made a little joke. Bring me a drink,” she laughed with her hands and fingers washing through the air as if to fan herself from the shock of his response, “who knew all this time I was shleping about with a funny man? So what’s next then, Marty, or should I call you Jackie Mason?”
“Alrighty, well… according to the last few emails about the German itinerary, Jane said she has a couple of good bits of theatre lined up for us in Berlin, so we should cross that off the list while we’re here.”
“Oh good, so we can finally get some tips on how to build a theatre back home, eh? Who does she think we are at all, I wonder?”
“Oy, enough of that sorta talk, Sophie. Besides, I hear there’s a Dante trail in town, maybe we follow that tomorrow for a few hours?”
“Marty, for goodness sake, I’ve been following you for the past 65 years, now you want me to follow another old fool into the gates of hell. Let me tell you, heat burns, Marty, and when it doesn’t burn… it fades.”
“Damn it Soph! Alrighty then, well let’s just walk along that Vecchio Bridge over there and then we’ll go wash up before dinner. I’ve got a real treat for us, Alice, you’re gonna love it, I just know it.”
“Pizza again, Marty, really,” she asked him as she placed a hand over his bulging belly, “you sure that tummy of yours can take it?”
“Well, looks who’s talking. How those pills treating you? At least I’m able to let it out now and again. Would it hurt you to push once in a while on that toilet seat, Soph?”
His wife gave him a look that needed no words and her husband’s swallow was suddenly almost as difficult to pass as her holiday poop.
“No pizza tonight, Soph, we’re in Florence. Tonight we are dining on cow. Pure red blooded cow, a Florentine favourite, according to those in the know.”
“Ay-yay-yay, now you’re talking. I am practically carnivorous. I could eat a human right now. If it was good enough for Hannibal then let’s do it. You know how much I like cow, Marty. You sweet old man,” she said as she slipped her foot out of her sandal and gently grazed it over his stockinged foot and smiled at him before turning her attention to the last of the sunlight that slowly wound its way along the banks of the Arno. He was a sweetie, she thought to herself. He might not have been one in a million, but he was her one just the same. Mazel tov!
“Yes Soph. I know how much you like cow,” he said, taking a sip of his chianti and sucking in the air over it through his teeth while he put his hand on top of hers on the table before he turning away and, just a whisper under his breath and out of earshot, continued “and they say it takes one to know one.”