Yesterday's entry (below) jogged an awesome memory of Rome.
In the summer of 2005 I spent three weeks bouncing around Europe. One of my stops was Rome and naturally I was there for what was said to be the hottest couple of days in about a decade. I thought I'd die.
I spent one entire day walking all the landmarks of Rome and I spent the next day at the Vatican - which included taking the stairs (not the elevator) to the top of the dome. Again, I thought I'd die.
By the time I got to the Rome airport I was spent. And eager for my next stop - a relaxing four days in Mykonos to refuel for the last long haul of my vacation. I was soon to discover that relaxing and Mykonos are words that don't go well together.
Once I got through security I made my way to the gate and found a seat and plopped down. Just glad to be off my feet. I had slept a full eight hours the night before but it just wasn't enough - I was simply exhausted.
I found myself sitting next to an Italian woman in her 80's. She was reading a book. We exchanged friendly smiles a couple of times as she didn't speak English nor I Italian. At one point she reached into her bag and produced a little box of chocolates and offered one to me. I politely declined.
After a bit there came an announcement that our flight would be delayed at least an hour. This produced a certain amount of restlessness in the gate. I don't think there is a more impatient place in the world than an airport - it's comical really.
There was a group of a dozen or so pre-teen boys traveling with a few male chaperones. The boys decided that the vacant gate next to us would make a perfect soccer pitch and used a tennis ball to kick around.
Their level of excitement really annoyed many of the already annoyed waiting for our delayed flight. And to make matters worse, every fourth or fifth kick of the ball would end up lobbed into our gate and hitting someone. The old Italian lady was visibly upset by this behavior - she kept shaking her head. I would nod in agreement and soon we became a couple of non-approving biddies together.
I needed to get away from these loud kids so I decided to go look for something to eat. I got a panini down the hall and could still hear the boys at play. I spared a thought for my new friend as I ate figuring that her anxiety level was only increasing.
When I returned to the gate my seat had been taken (I was slightly surprised she didn't save it for me) and I sat directly across from the old lady. She looked up from her book and again we smiled and nodded toward one another though now she looked to be at wits end owing to the intrusive noise.
A few minutes later the tennis ball rolled under the seats and came to rest against the old lady's bag. A boy was coming to retrieve it - she and I locked eyes and I could see that certain spark of a hatched a plan.
The old Italian lady leaned down and with her index finger and thumb she picked up the ball like it was covered in goo and then dropped it into her bag. She then took her boney index finger and placed in over her pursed lips as to give me the international sign of, shhh.
One, then two, then several boys came over to look for it - even asking people if they had seen their ball. It never came out of her bag and soon the boys abandoned their search thus putting a swift end to the match as not a soul had ratted the old lady out.
I smiled at the old Italian lady and then I placed my index finger to the tip of my thumb and gave her the international sign of, well done.