An Italian Hero

Heroes are interesting.  You don’t get to call yourself one; it has to be bestowed by others based on an act you do that they deemed is worthy.  Many times the “hero” doesn’t think he did anything special.  But it doesn’t matter if someone else thinks it is an heroic act.  This is a story of how I became an Italian hero.

My wife and I were in Florence and were looking for a late lunch.  The only place open was a tourist spot but we didn’t care. We were hungry.   We sat down and a waiter came by.  I think his name was Aldo.  He was in his early 40’s I’d guess and had a blank stare on his face.  After all, he was serving another middle aged American tourist couple so there was nothing to get excited about.  In fact, if I had committed a crime and the police were looking for me and interviewed this guy, it would go something like this.

Police:  Can you described the guy?

Waiter:  He looked middle age to me.

P:  How tall was he?

W:  He was about middle aged height.

P:  How much did he weigh?

W:  I’d say he was about middle aged weight.

P:  Thanks for your help.  This will go along way in tracking him down.

At any rate, we ordered our food and started chatting as the waiter disappeared into the kitchen.  Just then, a young attractive American women sat down at the next table.  As if summoned by radar, our waiter immediately appeared and started greeting/flirting with her.  We knew that from now on, we would not be getting the same level of service.  It was OK.   Who needs the constant “Is your meal prepared properly”, Do you want more wine”, “Can I get you anything else” or “I see your jacket is on fire as you reached over the candle, can I extinguish that for you?”.  Very much overrated.

We ate our meal and was amused by his carrying on with the young lass.  We finally finished our meal and were ready to go back to the hotel.  I don’t know about you, but it doesn’t really matter who pays for things when your a couple; it all comes out of the same pot.  So I asked my wife he she didn’t mind using her credit card since I wanted to give mine a rest.  I frantically waived to get the waiter attention and finally shouted “Il conto per favore”.  (The bill please).  Apparently I interrupted him at an inopportune time but he reluctant went inside and retrieve the bill and handed it to me.  I nodded to my wife, who reached into her purse, pulled out her credit card and gave it to me.  I in turn handed the card and the bill back to the waiter.

A moment of transition was about to occur.

The first thing I noticed was his eyes.  Since I met him, they were devoid of any emotion.  Suddenly, as if a light switch was turned on, they lit up and appeared to be dancing excitedly.  A slight grin came over his face.  He looked me straight in the eye and said “Che fortunato”  (How fortunate, how lucky you are etc.).

Apparently, all it takes to be a hero in Italy is to get a women to pay for your meal.  Hero may be a strong word, but I think I was one to that waiter that day.  The look of admiration on his face said it all.  As I passed the credit card slip to my wife and she signed it, I thought I saw him wink at me as acknowledgement I had just “closed the deal”.

It felt good to be a hero to someone even if you know you weren’t.  But it doesn’t matter what I think; all that was important was that Aldo thought I was.


%d bloggers like this: