Thursday, October 18, 2007

A Texan in Italy - 17 Curious Days - Day 2 Part 6

Over the next several days I will be telling you about my recent challenging, weird and wonderful 17 days in Italy. However, in the peculiar world of blogging that means the first story is on the bottom! So, if you want to begin at the first, go to the bottom. This is Day 2 - Part 6.

Day 2 - September 4, 2007; Part 6

I fetched my brown eyed girl and we headed back to the bar, no more than 3 or 4 blocks away. Once inside we picked a table and sat down, weary as two well diggers working double shifts with one arm. The same girl I believed to be a hostess served as the only waitress and she brought us a menu. She had a small diamond piercing midway up one of her nostrils, popular with 20 something females in Italy. She had a lovely face set off by a ready smile. Her English was barely intelligible and labored, filled with long pauses and silent hand gestures while she tried to think of possible words to use.

The music was loud in the bar so we yelled out the things that neither of us understood increasing the absurdity factor. We might not understand one another, but we were certainly going to talk loud enough to prove it. We ordered food from the menu by pointing. We had a small clue that we were ordering sandwiches based on the waitress pointing to a sandwich on a plate across the room and then pointing back to the menu.

Over the course of the next 2 hours I continued to order various things, including tea, coffee, pizza and sandwiches. It was my trade with the lovely girl and her boss for letting us sit there so long. She continued to try out her English on training wheels, accompanying it each time with her smile, good natured shoulder shrugs and long “ummmms”. Between food and drink orders I would run back to the apartment and pound on the front door hoping for a response that never came. I would then run back thru the cold to the bar to deliver my bad news. I finally laid my head down on the table. I don’t think the bar’s owner or our friendly waitress really understood our predicament. We had tried to explain, but the divide of language left us to remain a mystery in their bar. The bar owner was cleaning the bar and clearly approaching the time he would ask us to leave at 6:30 am. It was 6:15 am when he told us, by hand motions, we had to leave. No one else was in the bar. My sleepless marathon had reached 43 hours.

We walked out into a morning that was dark. Sunrise would come each day to Riccione around 7:30 am. However, a calming surprise awaited us. The storm had passed. It was cool, but not cold. Just as the cold rainy storm had come quickly, it also vanished quickly. The temperature outside was tolerable, the wind and rain had moved on to the weather cemetery, its miserable fleeting task accomplished. Later we learned the storm had been as bad as our experience told us it had been. Below is a reprint of text that appeared in various publications carrying the story of the track meet as written by track and field writer Ken Stone.

“But that night and the next morning, hurricane-force winds attacked -- uprooting trees and forcing a delay in cross country races. The weather turned gentle after that.”

BEG and I had lived out this nightmare in the midst of a near hurricane. No wonder the locals were a little testy with us! All this Texan has to say is “Bunch of cry-babies.” And as Forrest Gump famously said, “That’s about all I have to say about that.”

We were headed back to the apartment at 6:30 am in the gentle weather described in the news account. When we arrived I decided on a new tactic. I went to the side of the apartment and stood below a second floor balcony. At the top of my voice I yelled out one of my teammates names. It went like this “Bill. Bill Collins. Are you in there? Bill. Bill Collins.” It was yelled loudly. I stared up at the balcony, my concentration focused on the sliding door. I had no idea what to expect. Perhaps another angry janitor with a mop? Within seconds none other than the requested Bill Collins emerged from behind the sliding door. He would tell me later that he had opened the door for fresh air no more than a few seconds before I yelled. He looked at me as though he were puzzled, as if I might be merely the ghost of Seven. We were saved. The apartment did indeed contain my teammates, and best of all we were discovered, urchins riding the streets in the midst of a near hurricane, saved. Finally.

Bill hustled downstairs and wanted to know how we got there so soon. He believed we would have to wait for the next day’s flight to Paris and would arrive in Riccione the next morning. BEG poured out the story in a tumble of disjointed sentences, followed by eventual paragraphs of information about Amsterdam and freezing nights and closed bus stations and bastards in Houston and on and on. She told him about the lost luggage. I listened. I even smiled. I could tell that BEG now had stories to tell for a lifetime. Not good stories, but stories all the same. Bill listened with amazement. We were soon standing inside his apartment. Waiting there were his wife Stephanie and a fellow Houston Elite teammate that was competing for Australia, a fellow named Bob Cozens. Bob stared at me and said in simple Aussie fashion, “Where ya been mate, ya look like bloody hell.” Beg started the story all over with Bill interjecting the parts he had just learned. Cozens broke in with "So that was you a-bangin on the door all bloody night eh? You kept me awake all the night you little bugger, I thought it was drunks having a party in the storm!" I stared like a zombie, dropping into a trance induced by finally seeing that my work might be over and that after 43.5 hours I might actually be able to sleep.

At the conclusion of the harrowing tales dispensed by BEG in a tumble of words resembling a confused cliff notes account, we were taken upstairs. We wanted a bed. We were sharing an upstairs apartment with another teammate Charles Allie and his wife Jackie. They were still asleep in their bedroom when we entered the apartment using the key Bill had saved for us. Bill showed us our bedroom. There were two single beds. Fine. Anything. He said, “Get a little rest, but remember you have to go the stadium and declare for your races sometime this morning.”
I barely responded. After he closed the door we dropped every stitch of clothing we were wearing (43.5 consecutive hours worth) and fell into the beds. Our rest would be short-lived, and the clothes would be worn again, but day 2 was mercifully over and we were horizontal.
Day 3 was peering at us over the horizon, its crooked fingers of fate pulling the sun gleefully up behind. The sun broke through the window at the head of my bed. I fell asleep with total disregard for the time of day.
(Photo 1 - Seven standing in the door of the infamous beige apartment building and its glass door )
(Photo 2 - My roommate/teammate, M55-59 400 meter World Record holder Charles Allie)


kathi said...

Now I'm worried you're going to over sleep and miss your check-in.
Love a guy who sleeps in the nude. Yeah, I read the whole post and this is the thing I focus on, lol. I'm a sick pup.
Oh, and finally a decent pic of you!! Thank you for that. You know (if you read my blog) that I have this THING for shaved heads. I have huge, HUGE, crushes on Michael Chiklis and Jason Hawes from TAPS.
A guy that sleeps raw, shaves his head and let's see....I'm forgetting something....oh yeah, MARRIED. LOL, if it wasn't for your travel sense, you'd be nearly perfect.

Fish said...

superb, I snan't comment on them all but I'm intrigued and enthralled, I imagine this must be what it was like to be a Dickens fan waiting for the latest instalment in the Observer...

Seven said...

Sigh. The story of my life. Almost OK, but just not quite... :)
It is only my opinion of course, but I think folks that sleep in clothes (pajamas) are in need of extensive counseling. Is there anything worse than a wad of clothes up around your neck or twisted around your waist, or riding up your legs? And there is an entire commercial market for selling you such totally illogical things! Go figure. Truth be told I work at home and often simply don't wear clothes at all, going many a 24 hour period without even a stitch if I have no meetings to attend. Please understand I am doing this while wearing a shaved head...:p

Fish on Wheels,
As I have told you I consider you the very best writer on the blogging net. Based on that fact your compliment means a great deal to me. And despite my silliness in your comment box, I do wish you a quick and total recovery. Best wishes.

kathi said...

How evil can one man possibly be? I really need to start getting out.
Still I have a very imaginative mind...and I sincerly hope you have leather furniture.

Seven said...

Italian leather couches in the main room. Sometimes I stick to it which isn't too great. My backyard and pool are private with an 8' fence so summer is very casual around here if you know what I mean. BEG is more natural even than me. I don't think she has worn a swimsuit in ten years. As far as how evil? In my individual case.....hmmmm.......I report, you decide. Hint: It might be a good idea to bring me up to your prayer group. Maybe I can join up with Mr. and Mrs. Roberts up at the university in Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweeping down the plains. They seem to be having a lot of fun!

Seven said...

Just as a footnote, I understand that Mr. Roberts doesn't allow Mrs. Roberts to go out with her young boyfriends until the boys have finished their homework. There have to be SOME rules you know.

kathi said...

I don't know about any Roberts in Oklahoma, so who are they and how are they having a lot of fun? Acutally, I'm a tad afraid to ask, lol. And I'm not in a prayer group, just me...but I'm a powerball of faith. ;)

Honestly, the more I learn about BEG, the more I love her.

Lynilu said...

I'm just relieved. And, yes, I know that is a foolish emotion to have at this time, because it ain't over till it's over.