The Old Man And I

Do you need a laugh? Maybe a little creep-out?

I had a nervous uncomfortbale laugh and then immediately washed my hand five times.

This evening I stayed again at the hotel instead of going out, which meant I was dining alone.

My Waiter (I really should get his name), gave me the option of sitting in a back corner tonight, thank you! As it is getting close to the end of my trip I decided I might as well go all out and try 3 of the 5 courses available on almost every Italian menu. How does anyone stay thin? I ordered an Appetizer, First Course and Dessert with a coffee.

I managed through the Appetizer and the First Course when two older gentlemen entered the dinning room and sat at the table beside mine. They were sharing a news paper and seemed to be discussing it’s contents.

My Dessert arrived and as I finished up reading an email, noticed out of the corner of my eye one of the old men getting up from his seat and making his way towards me.

He arrived at my table and asked “Are you Italian”, in what seemed like Italian. I shook my head no. That pleased him and he continued by listing off a bunch of languages I might possibly speak, “French, English etc.”. I stopped him and responded “English and some French.”

Ahhhh, and he reached down for my hand, picked my left hand off the table. His the palm of his old hand was fleshy, soft and warm, the top of his hand was veined, hairy and rough. He raised our hands together and kissed the back of my hand and I pulled my hand back.

He pointed to my waiting dessert and asked in French, “Is it good?”

“I Haven’t tried yet,” and I took my spoon and a small bite and gave him the thumbs up. He was pleased and asked me to point out which dessert it was on his Italian language menu.

Before he left my table he took my hand a second time, held it slighly longer than the first, kissed it again, looked into my eyes to said Ciao.  

I looked away. Uncomfortable.

I am slightly frazzled, but I have this and I focused on my dessert and my coffee.

The wait staff dropped off a dish of complimentary biscuits on my table. I ignore the biscuits, how do they do this? Pre-appetizer rolls, sliced dried baguette, three course meal AND Biscuits! 

The old man noticed and again got up from his table. He asked if I minded if he had my biscuits. He didn’t try to take my hand, I didn’t look at him and I gestured “Go ahead”.

I am completely involved in my email, but I noticed movement to my left and I took a little sideways peak over. He was sitting, staring at me, jiggling his legs giving me the impression was waiting for an opening, a reason to pop back over to my table. I went back to my email and focused, focused on not looking up. I felt trapped. I desperately wanted to leave the room but I feared he’d follow me, so it became a little game of whom can out-sit whom!

He managed to stand up. He waited. I did not look up but I could sense the movement as he made his way back to my table. I cringed. He leaned in much closer than before and in his broken French he asked me, “Do you want to have breakfast with me tomorrow.”

I wished desperately for my invisibility cloak.

I shook my head no and said, “That will not work for me.”

He is not detterred and repeats in earnest his question, “Will yo have beakfast with me tomorrow.”

I shook my head no, more vigorously than before.

He is an old man, he’s been told no many times, he isn’t going to give up and he tried a new route, “Give me your hotel room number and I will call you.”

MY HOTEL ROOM NUMBER AND HE WILL CALL ME! I wanted to die.

This time I left out the shaking of my head and the verbal no’s and I pulled out my arm gesture that I’ve picked up while being in Italy. The arm gesture that gets in your face and is the ultimate go the F*ck away. I had tried the nice Canadian approach and it clearly did not work.

I pulled my right arm up from my lap and I shook it firmly from side to side in front of his bent over nose.

He knows I am not Italian and doesn’t believe my agressive arm gesture and he simply said, “What time are you planning to have breakfast.”

I ignored him. I was out of material and he shrugged and left the dinning room.

I am ready to come home thanks.

The Waiter And I

It’s day 8, the city away from the tourist core is alive with city culture, groups of friends and food which reminds me of home. Finding a little restaurant on a side street that is playing 90’s hits and churning out dinners to write home about. I love that part of Milano, but I miss my people, I miss my home, I miss my coffee shop and I miss my dojang.

Tonight I stayed in the hotel to dine and broke down and ordered the Burger off the dining room menu, comfort food. The hotel dining room was quiet with a few fellow guests and for the first time in 8 days I found myself dinning Milano time – fashionably late, after 8pm.

The waiter has been here all week. Maybe he sleeps in the hotel? I can’t escape him. He servers me breakfast, I see him flitting around at lunch and he is always there in the evening. They know my last name and my room number. I enter the room, they nod, circle my name on their list of hotel guests and I find myself a seat.

I won’t lie, that’s a nice feeling. They know who I am or at least HE knows who I am.

He’s been watching me and I take blame for accidentally initiating it the first night I arrived.

Not hungry after my flight I decided to do some grocery shopping and picked up fruit, granola, yogurt and other easy snacks for my room. It wasn’t until I was settled into my room when I realized ‘how was I exactly planning on eating the yogurt?’

I showed up in his dining room well after closing time asking for a spoon. He looked at my quizzically, walked over to his sidebar, opened the drawer and pulled out a serving spoon.

“This?” he asked in uncomfortable, broken English.

I gave a little laugh wondering why he would choose to pull out a serving spoon of all spoons, why would anyone want a serving spoon? He was confused. I was confused. He looked at me then back at the spoon in his hand, ‘I’d asked for a spoon, what was the problem?’

Desperately wanting to eat my yogurt and feeling panicked I reached out, “Yes, perfect” and I took the serving spoon and immediately thanked him in Spanish, “gracias”.

Right there I made my impression. Who was this bizarre North American entering his dining room at 10:30 in the evening, asking for a spoon, laughing, accepting a serving spoon and thanking him in Spanish!

And so it began. Standing at the elevator bank, mindlessly playing on my phone, waiting, I’d get the feeling of being watched and instinctively I’d look to my right. There he’d be, far off in his dining room, sporting a most serious face, his dark rimmed eyes boring into me.

I’d shiver, was I in trouble for borrowing the serving spoon?

I’d imagine him thinking, “What is that girl doing with the spoon? Something sinister?” Followed by him requesting the cleaning staff check my room while I was out.

The elevator doors would open and I’d dash into safety.

Yes he was my server tonight and as expected he was watching me, not out of the corner of his eye, he was looking at me squarely. I felt uncomfortable. I didn’t know what to do with his seriousness. It was freaking me out. If you know me at all, I prepared myself to do what I most often do when I feel uncomfortable….I prepared myself to crack a lame joke in hopes that I’d get an eye-roll, an annoyed smirk and then he’d leave me alone. From experience it works and it was a good plan.

What I wasn’t prepared for is to be one upped by an seemingly super serious Italian waiter.

“Can you put it on my room please,” I asked after I finished my meal and then for good measure added my last name as he was walking away from me.

He stopped, turned slightly, a hint of a smile on his face and he said in his broken uncomfortable English that made it difficult to understand, “You are the boss then!” And his hint of a smile went to a full-on smile, I could see his teeth.

He just cracked a joke!! A lame joke!! Maybe he’d been preparing it all week and he finally had his chance!! I should be so proud, but unprepared to be outdone I replied in the most serious businesslike voice that I can muster, “No, not the boss.”

Immediately I saw my mistake as his face went from beaming to ultimate disappointment as he quietly acknowledged that I didn’t think he was funny. Not wanting to disappoint the waiter who had lent me one of his many serving spoons and who had spent the last 8 days glaring at me, I smiled broadly and quickly recovered, “Oh but I pretend to be the boss.”

This pleased him and off he disappeared behind his counter, giant smile on his face.

The Italian man had made a joke!

I am good to come home now.

P.S. Over the next few days when I catch him glaring at me with his serious face and piercing eyes, I am going to imagine him thinking up his next lame English joke. So pleased 🙂

On Selecting Flooring and Future Husbands…

Two weeks after the Condo flood, it’s time to start thinking about choosing a suitable flooring to cover my cement floors.

I didn’t think looking for flooring would be so stressful and funny. So far I have visited 7 Stores in 3 days.

Typically this is how the conversation starts off:

“Welcome, can I help you?”

“I am looking for flooring for my condo and I am looking at engineered or laminate.”

And with that the sales person shows me their samples and off I go looking for something I like.

There have been two worthy encounters to blog about with two separate sales people at two different stores that had me laughing.

Why?

Both had nothing to do with flooring and everything to do with … My future?!

Here’s for the first and funniest of the two:

“So you look like you are from Europe, what country are you from?” Inquired the middle aged sales man.

I laughed, “I am Canadian, my ancestry is from a little all over.”

That wasn’t satisfactory, “What countries?” He pried again.

“Well mainly Ireland, Scotland and Switzerland.”

He nodded and looked at me expectantly. Should I be saying something more? After a minute of awkward silence he broke down and asked, “Where do you think I am from!”

Sooo that was what this was about, him and his needs! Ah ha! I know how to handle this one I thought to myself.

“Well I am going to guess Italy?”

“That’s correct,” as he puffed up his chest as big as it would go while doing his best to stand a little taller to match my height, “I am from the North.”

“Good to know?!” I said quizzically. I wasn’t so sure what I was suppose to do with this information.

He carried on with his banter about Europe and more specifically Germany. “Have you ever been to Germany.”

“Actually yes, surprisingly, and I loved it so much I’d consider moving to Munich.”

“Really, well that should be simple”, he paused and continued with his grand plan for my future, “You need to go back to Germany, find a German man, tell him you want to move to Germany and he’ll for sure agree to marry you!”

Ummm really?! It’s THAT simple?! Has this guy been hacking my email recently because that WAS my plan!! LOL.