I had some doubts about coming on this trip. I am a victim of the Protestant Ethic, a day’s work well done, compounded by Jewish Guilt—or I feel terrible. So as I have no new achievement under my belt, written books not counting for anything in my mind unless published, and being only a few chapters into the new one, I felt I was not entitled to take a vacation. From what? my Jiminy Cricket would say.
Still, I was happy to be asked to this formidable wedding, details about which it would exhaust me to list, since I have already writ about it as a loving courtesy to my hosts. But once invited, I passed a hat on Madison Avenue, and had no choice but to buy it, it was so simply splendid, so splendidly simple, and yet coolly elaborately chic. They wanted a lot more, but I was able to talk them down to $200, promising they would be part of the article I intended to write about the wedding. Then I got cold feet, just like brides do, and started to cancel, but my darling friend Pam said “Buy you got the hat.”
So I made slow haste to come, calling ahead to Delta airlines to make sure I would be able to take the hat on board in its spacious box, and the agent on the phone held while I measured, and it just made the 18” diameter. And then I called Sky Magazine, the Delta in-flight thing to try and get an actual assignment to write about the journey of the hat, figuring it would be much to their advantage since probably the people who know there is a direct flight from JFK to Pisa are fewer than legion. But they called me back and said it wasn’t funny enough, as for that kind of feature, on their back page, they prefer using comedians. Oh, well.
Still I came, and wore the hat to the church part of the wedding, where the bride arrived gorgeously arrayed in white crocheted lace in the black sidecar of a motorcycle driven by her father, and the groom wore Emiliano Zegna gray silk, and I was one of three women out of hundreds who wore a hat. The others were another New Yorker and Georgia, three times Miss Montecatini, but her beauty queen career ended there. Still, she looked cute in her hat.
I, on the other hand, looked very much the matron in a really nice hat. But what the hell. I left the hat in the car for the beach part of the celebration(groaning boards, infinite champagne, suckling pig) giant grapes and prosciutto sliced by two brothers who had taken three years to cure it(I hope of everything.)
Then today, finding that once again I have brought my currency curse on myself—that is to say, the minute I travel the dollar sinks, so even as the euro is in the toilet, my very coming makes it expensive again, and the PIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain) are in better shape than they would have been had I not made the voyage, so decided to go home before it gets even worse.
Still, I did have to make one last swing to the open market for some sunglasses—the woman in the really good store was amazingly rude, very un-Italian, I could have been in Paris—so I saved 170 euros which by tomorrow will probably be worth twice what the dollar is if I stay.
So I went to the open market. And guess what was there. My hat. 7 euros. I was tempted to buy it simply to shove it down the throat of the owner of Mandara on Madison(DON’T EVER GO THERE, or if you do, say I sent you and spit on her.)
Oh well. Read somewhere today(could it have been the New Yorker? Probably not, too direct)the Zen saying Live as though you were dead. So walking back to the hotel I passed a beautiful mirrored and fairy-tale decorated carousel, like the one in Bordeaux that Happy had his first and last merry-go-round ride on on what was to be his final holiday, before he had his heart attack in Paris, where his jeweled collar, the one he wore on Oprah but she didn’t show the book, the bitch, hangs in La Cimitiere Pere LaChaise next to hippy bracelets on the headstone of Jim Morrison, since they both died in the same way, in the same place, although Morrison wasn’t at the Plaza Athenee. Anyway, I took a picture of the carousel, and remembered Happy, and our trip with Betsy. A little girl about 18 months, Maria-Luisa, just perfecting her stagger, came and rode a miniature auto, and I took her picture because she was almost as beautiful, eye-wise, as the boys last night looking up at the World Cup.
Then because I know what it is to have been cheated but not by an Italian, I forced myself to have a gelati, three flavors, chocolate, bacio, and something toasted with berries in it. Raging, even as I enjoyed, I ate it all up. Soon I will be in a bed that is JUST THE RIGHT SIZE.