Tuesday, January 26, 2016



Alexander the Great floor mosaic
The best kind of laughter is infectious and free. Winding our way around the Piazza del Campidoglio, the cab driver, my friends, and I laughed over the clogged cars trying to squeeze into tight gaps until there was a veritable tangle of motorbikes and smart cars. Our cab driver rolled down the window on my side to cheerily greet another cab driver who was close enough to flout my sense of comfortable boundaries. It was like a carousel ride accompanied by a ridiculous song on the radio.

The lyrics were a lifeless repetition of, “I’ve seen you around. I find you very attractive. Will you go to bed with me?”

I thought of the poem, “The Automotive Kiss,” by Filippo Tomasso Marinetti, which is an early form of the hot girl + cool car fantasy as we know it today in all its pin up calendar and centerfold glory. I didn’t want to kiss the driver in the next car, but we were close enough to make it happen. Our taxi inched ahead and I said goodbye to the other driver, issuing a “Ciao,” well-rehearsed after watching Italian films. I wish I had a pair of Prada sunglasses to reach the pinnacle of Italian panache when I say, “Ciao,” but I think the amusement in that moment was all the panache anyone could ask for.

For the next song, our cab driver rocked out to Pink’s “So What,” even though he adorably only knew the “Nanananananana” lyrics. I thought, “This guy has the right idea. Sing along even if you don’t know the lyrics.”

Kelley and I ended our day in a quintessential Italian restaurant. The evening was reminiscent of Lady and the Tramp sharing a spaghetti dinner. I ordered the black truffle gnocchi and she ordered some type of “American” pasta. American, we surmised, is code for “with bacon.” We raised our glasses and ate off each others’ plates and it was bella and deliziosa. 

Earlier today, we were walking around the ancient ruins of Pompeii. I wish I could say I’m an expert on all things Pompeii-related, but I still know very little, even after our guided tour. I know that the ancient Romans had a plumbing and drainage system, and that the people of Pompeii had just as many brothels as bakeries. Wealthier citizens could afford mosaic tile floors, marble steps, and colorful paint jobs, traces of which have survived to this day. After taking us to a brothel with some very sexually suggestive murals on the walls, our tour guide joked about the priority of our picture taking and apologized that the rest of our tour wasn’t erotic. I jokingly told him, “Maybe everything’s erotic and you’re just not looking hard enough.” Then he took us to the human remains of some people who died in the year 79 AD when Mount Vesuvius erupted, and I saw his point. You’d have to be some kind of pervert to find human remains erotic. I try to take some things seriously, but it’s hard to visit Pompeii with no comic relief after watching The Trip to Italy with Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon. I love my travel companions but I have to wonder how great it would be to travel with those guys.

I am satisfyingly full of wine and ready for bed now. Until next time. Ciao.  

The Automotive Kiss (10th Letter to Rose of Belgrade) 

Believe me, the only kiss worthy of our futurist generation is the automotive kiss. Yes, kissing while speeding. You, defiant driver, with your left hand on the steering wheel, will lean out of the right side of the car. And I? . . . In another car sitting next to my young driver, who naturally will fall madly in love with you, I will lean out of the left side, looking for your lips. In flight! Piston of desire. The oil of fortune circulates in the gear of thought. The tension of our wills shapes the road whose touching or threatening undulations can, at any moment, merge into a crashing mortal kiss . . . To be avoided, of course! Especially since my driver will feel his own hands trembling from the vibrations of the steering wheel. Jealousy, his and mine. The road ferocious. With all the spice of danger, it is nonetheless necessary to accelerate the motor and to concentrate all our thousand souls in our tendered lips. Finally, finally, let the spark dart and dart again from the four pulpy folds charged with infinity. . .
A spark which has turned into fire, the unending fire of a terrifying kiss. Would you like it? With what sort of car? At what speed? I am at your disposal and I await orders.

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