It’s not about surviving the storm it’s about dancing in the rain. We’re all going to get splashed at some point.
Frank sang in the background.
“And then I go and spoil it all by saying something stupid like I love you”
She sat alone in the most romantic city in the world and yet her heart still felt full. The scientists had gone back to work. They left their phone number and a few Venetian phrases to help her on her travels.
“Come ti Chiami?” –“What’s your name?”
“Ti bevi un ombra?”-“Wanna drink something?”
“Ti ga una barca?” –“Do you have a boat?”
Apparently the only questions she needed in Venice. She paid up and continued to wander down the wide shopping street. It felt like she was swimming through a sea of conversations. The crowded streets of New York and London were filled with traffic noises, people shuffling by and concentrating on keeping their heads down. All she could hear now was a plethora of “ciaos” and “amores”. Fruit vendors yelling, old ladies bantering and young mothers calling back their wild children. She absorbed it all and walked without rushing as she had no destination. Time for another coffee. She turned into a bar on the corner just before a big bridge. Ponte de Guglie.
There were two steel trollies outside filled to the brim with rubbish bags. A man and woman dressed in fluorescent yellow overalls propped up the bar.
“Café Corretto Sambuca” he nodded
“Anch’io Giorgio” She gestured with her finger.
Why not. “Anch’io!” She smiled. The rubbish lady smiled at her and winked at the bartender. “Brava”
They shot their coffee within seconds and both went back to their rubbish carts outside. The lady hiked hers up the bridge and through the tourists. He took a right and dumped his load into a boat waiting in the canal. She’d never thought about what happens to the rubbish. How many people remember that somebody has to clean up Disney Land. She sipped her coffee a bit slower and adjusted to the sweet burn of the anise. Which was surprisingly delicious. The grumpy bartender hid his smile while he polished the glasses. The sun reflected off the marble bridge and tourists bumbled down it awkwardly with their noisy wheeled cases.
She followed the street along the canal and finally arrived at some tables and chairs. A waiter came up and offered her a menu.
Gam Gam. She apologized as she wasn’t hungry but decided to appease him by having a glance anyway. It was a kosher restaurant and she realized she was at the entrance to the Ghetto. Another word which originates from Venetian.
The most famous word that comes from Venetian is “Ciao”. They used to call down to their slaves out of the window, slave or Schiavo became Ciao. Some say the word Ghetto comes from “gettare” which means to “throw away” whereas others believe it comes from “Borghetto” which means little town.
She passed through the sotoportego and into the Ghetto passing the synagogue on her left. She noticed that these were the tallest houses she’d seen so far. In this part of the city, the only way they could build was up as the Jews were given this limited space. Some guys dressed all in black with Kippurs and ringlets passed her laughing about some story. Entering the open square she felt an imaginary palm of a hand pound her chest as she saw all of the murals of the Jewish people being carried away. She took some moments for the dead and then took the iron bridge to the left out of the Ghetto and on to Fondamenta Ormesini. The street was littered with cute bars and tables and chairs lined the canal. She opted for the one with a big empty boat outside.
A young couple sat on the boat rolling cigarettes and drinking wine. Drunk with a new love.
She perched at the bar like a professional and ordered a prosecco and a couple of crostini. She ordered Baccala and one with mozzarella and anchovies. The two men next to her were eating boiled eggs with anchovies on top and ploughing through their own bottle of prosecco. The one was tanned and full of tattoos. He had an overly sized earing that had created a gaping hole in his ear and had a thick rope hanging over his shoulder. The other guy was stocky with a shaved head and black rimmed glasses. She discreetly tried to listen to their conversation to see how much she could follow. The hand gestures helped and these guys were throwing their hands everywhere. Tattoos clapped his hands together and rocked them back and forward as if he were violently praying. Whereas glasses held his thumb and fingers together as if he were picking fruit and shook it back at Tattoos in response to his violent praying. She understood the word “barca”. At this point Glasses swung round in a rowing motion and annihilated her glass of prosecco, all over the bar and her top.
He clasped his hands around his mouth with wide eyes.
“Sorry!!Sorry…ma dio bon…scusa!” He frantically mopped up the bar and then thought about trying to pat down her top but then realized it may be a bit too soon to touch her chest. She went a shade darker than red. It may have been closer to purple. In all of this commotion, the bartender had already replaced her prosecco and was laughing with the other fellow about the awkwardness of the situation.
He grabbed her by her shoulders. “Sorry. My English not so good.”
She decided to try to ease his nerves and reached for her notebook. Clearing her throat she gave her best shot.
“Ti ga una barca?” She shrugged with raised eyebrows. He turned to his friend perplexed.
“Yes, yes….It outside” He looked at her quizzingly as if she were the police or the oracle.
Next try. “Come ti chiami?” He looked even more confused and put his hand on his chest “Federico” His other hand on his friend's chest “Marco”.
Ok, she was getting somewhere. She looked down at her book and gulped.
“Ti bevi un ombra?” Raising her one eyebrow even higher.
Federico broke out laughing and smacked Marco on the back
“Grande” He couldn’t hold back his smile. He grabbed his glass and they turned into her. All three of them clinked glasses and carried on laughing about the drops.