Ever had one of those days when you realize that the Universe is having a bit of fun at your expense and taking the opportunity to make sure you don’t get overly confident? That was my Friday. I’d recently returned to Genova, Italy, where I spend a good deal of my time and was working through my usual jetlag, awkwardness getting back into the language and in particular, the Italian driving sensibilities. Italians can be best described as private anarchists and public communists, which manifests itself into a set of driving norms that leave me seriously contemplating the use of a paintball gun while driving to better express my appreciation for those around me.
My Friday morning consisted of a series of, “I cannot believe I just did that,” exercises which I’m positive is the Universe’s way of hinting that maybe, just maybe, there is something to that whole blond thing. I made myself coffee three times, losing my cup every time. Still not sure where the other two cups ended up as my cleaning lady inevitably finds them all and discretely puts them in the dishwasher. I’ve seen her sideways glances and slight head shakes which I’m fairly certain mean she thinks I’m insane, and probably not too bright given my Italian fluency, or lack thereof.
Later in the day I thought things were finally turning around for me, when I made the unfortunate decision to drive myself and a colleague to a meeting. It was a freezing cold day, with lots of wind and rain, so being a true southern Californian I was fully decked out in heavy coat and mittens… and there’s where the trouble began.
Now that I’ve finally mastered the art of the round-about I get frustrated when others foil my attempts to navigate them smoothly. On Friday I was maneuvering my way around a particularly busy one onto the Sopraelevata, (a Genovese version of a raised highway on which one’s max speed is whopping 60km/hr or 37mph) when this woman damn near pushes me into another car on my right by swinging wildly into my lane from the inner most lane in a hurried attempt to make it onto the on-ramp, forcing me to slam on my breaks so as to avoid any collisions.
I was already gunning for bear at my own idiocy that day, so this became the perfect opportunity to vent my frustrations! I jetted onto the Sopraelevata behind her, my colleague and I yelling loudly, fists shaking with heavy scowling and considerable head shaking. The crazy woman in that awful tiny red car had the audacity to shake her bloody finger at us in her rearview mirror! Oh no she didn’t! Now I’m really raging to give her a serious talking to, when all of a sudden my engine revs up wildly slowing me down to a ridiculous 30km/hr or so. My colleague is still ranting, but getting a weird look on his face as he tries to figure out what the hell it is that I’m trying to accomplish. The car continues to slow, with RPM jumping wildly. I’m flailing about, face turning 18 shades of red, trying to figure out what the in the hell is going on. The crazy woman in that puny Punto smoothly pulls away from us and now the cars behind me are honking angrily as I finally realize that in my eagerness to give her the what for, I nicked the manual gear shift on the steering wheel with my mittens, but couldn’t feel it because those things are so damn thick!
I did the only thing anyone could in my position. I fixed my gears, pulled over into the slow lane, head hung feeling more blond than at any other point in my entire life. My colleague’s shoulder started the telltale shake of a man desperately trying to not laugh. I gave him my best scowl, which he didn’t at all buy into and the two of us laughed until our stomachs hurt.
The point of this story? The best way to end a day like that is with a bottle of 1995 Bollinger Champagne. It is incredibly good all on its own or with some pasta. It presents with the nice little bubbles that tempt your tongue, rather than the big ole ones that make you hiccup relentlessly after the first sip. Slide a few glasses into the freezer, put the champagne on ice, take a long hot shower, and my evening was able to repair one hell of an Italian blond day.