Okay, I'm not really sure why this story popped into my head today. Maybe because I'm hungry. Maybe because the very first posts on this blog were about my trip to Italy. Maybe because sometimes I remember some horrible things I've done and am filled with self loathing.
This post includes all three.
There was a story I left off my original Italian travel postings.
Mainly because I was afraid they'd find me.
You remember the mall parking lot scene from Back to the Future where Doc tells Marty with disbelief, "Oh my God, they found me. They actually found me!"
Doc was talking about Libyan terrorists or something.
I'm talking about a waiter. In Rome. A Roman waiter. Perhaps they are as savage as gladiators. Or the mafia. They never forget.
Anyway, maybe enough time has gone by to tell the story.
The story is called: The First and Last Time I did a Dine and Dash in Rome Because that Waiter was a Ginormous Ass and Totally Deserved it!
It was one of our last nights in Rome and I had read a good review of a restaurant. I don't really remember where, the north part of the city, in one the hills overlooking the Colosseum. After much trodding up and down cobblestone streets we found the restaurant.
It was dusk. It was chilly. We looked at the menu. It was a little more expensive than most of the restaurants we had gone to, but I figured it would be good. I looked in through the windows and it was a lovely Osteria style restaurant and about half full. With locals. Which is a good sign.
The outside of the restaurant had a front terrace with a low wall, so you had to walk through the patio area to the front door. There was a host at the front door and we said in our best bad Italian, "Good evening!" Blah blah blah. And implied we wanted a table for two.
The host nods and disappears into the restaurant. Eventually he comes back with two menus. We think we are going inside. It is warm and lovely and candles and wine and people laughing and eating.
He puts us on one of the patio table outside, the furthest from the restaurant, in the corner, in the dark.
I am not exaggerating.
We are both sitting there going, "What just happened?"
I say to Matt, "Umm...what is going on?"
Matt says, "I don't know."
I narrow my eyes. "Yes, you do. They are assholes. They don't like us."
"Because we're Americans."
Now, I obviously can't PROVE this, but it's one of those things that you can't necessarily describe but you know it when it happens to you. It's like sexual harassment for women. A look. An intonation. A turn of the head. Just a manner of speaking. It is sometimes incredible subtle, but it's there. You can smell it like a fart, hanging in the air, staining everything.
Matt is giving him the benefit of the doubt. "You think so?"
"I know so." Now I'm pissed. "He doesn't even KNOW us! That dick!"
After a very long time, even by Italian standards, a waiter takes our order.
Other people come and are seated inside. We are left alone on a dark patio for the entire dinner.
I drink a few glasses of wine and am slightly tipsy. I'm waiting for the check. And waiting. And waiting.
Matt gets up and walks to the sidewalk to light his cigarette. He smokes and stares into the restaurant. After a moment he speaks. "You know, we could just run off right now."
He said the right thing to the wrong person.
"Yeah, ha! Let's do it!"
He may have thought I was joking, but I'm fueled by a dangerous combination of vino and righteous indignation. I practically knock the chair to the ground and leap over the wall to the sidewalk. "Hahaha! Assholes!" I run past Matt up the hill and I'm twenty feet down the road before he realizes what his batass crazy wife just did.
He flings his cigarette into the street and starts running after me. I'm laughing like a loon.
Then a problem happens. Have you ever tried to sprint a mile, uphill, on wet cobblestones, after eating an entire plate of pesto gnocchi and three glasses of wine? No? Well, I don't recommend it.
A hot stabbing pain enters my chest. Perhaps I'm having a heart attack. Perhaps the Roman waiter has shot me with a Taser. Perhaps the Lord himself has reached down to smite me.
I feel like my chest and stomach are going to explode. "Uuunngghh!" I bend over and press my fingers into my side, but I'm still scared enough to look back because I hear someone running after me.
It's Matt. He's wheezing and laughing. "Hurry!" I scream. "Let's go this way."
I ignore the pain and go down a side street.
It turns out to be a dead end. We ran up the one road that has no outlet. We are like those idiot people you see on episodes of Cops.
"Oh my God, we have to go back!"
"They'll see us!" I really feel like puking now.
Long story short, we walk back and look at the restaurant. They still haven't come out to bring our check. We walk quickly past and to another side street that takes us down the hill into a main thoroughfare. I still want to run and keep looking behind me. I take of my jacket and Matt says, "Yeah, that was interesting."
"He deserved it. Jerk."
"I bet he really loves Americans now."
We both start laughing.
A while later Matt says, "You know, we only made one mistake."
"Running up the hill?"
"No, we should have ordered the EXPENSIVE bottle of wine."