Holy schlamoly! My baby girl is getting married! Where did the time go?
It seems like only
yesterday, uh, last week, last month a short while ago that I had been asked the same question –
extremely young lovers exit their run-down quaint hotel onto a cobblestoned street. Greeted by fragrant herbs and fresh-baked pizza wafting on a mild Roman breeze, they take a moment to marvel at the sun slipping behind the distant hills. The flaming neon streak that separates the sky from the earth calls to the crescent moon rising in the east, “Follow me. This is the way home.”
With rumbling stomachs, the couple laughs at the thought of the sun and moon talking to each other. As nighttime descends, they stroll past ancient ruins on their way to dinner.
They meander the city’s broad avenues and wind down narrow passageways. Only once they have paid tribute, a coin each, to a time-honored legend which promises a return to the Eternal City,
do they find their destination…
With dinner ordered, they
gaze into one another’s eyes take in the romantic surroundings: red-and-white-check table cloths, bulbous balls of cheese hanging from well dusted rafters accompanied by hocks of prosciutto and lengthy chains of soppresata and pepperoni. The flame of a candle shoved into a basket bound chianti bottle (remember, it’s 1980) offers a moment of focus for the young man as he dabs a fine film of sweat from his temples with a white cloth napkin.
The primi piatti is served.
Before the first mouthful, a lilting voice breaks the silence, “Mi scusi.”
POP goes a cork.
SPLASH – Champagne swirls into fluted glasses, its twinkling bubbles making up for the invisible stars from earlier that evening.
The couple’s simultaneous “Grazie” brings a smile to the waiter’s face. He nods with a “Prego” and returns to the kitchen.
You can imagine the rest- except that I did not say yes. Instead, I stammered, “I, I, I, do love you, but, ahh, ask me again in three months.”
I know. You must be shaking your head and saying, “How could you?” But I hadn’t seen it coming. I was shocked. It seemed that Trevi Fountain lore actually had something to it. Ron should have thrown three coins in the fountain to ensure marriage. Although, maybe he went back without me knowing because I did say yes a few days later and in 1981 we were married.
Fast forwarding to 2006 – we revisited Rome for our 25th wedding anniversary, thus fulfilling the prophecy of the single coin toss. Of course, I insisted upon going to the restaurant where Ron proposed. Women are sentimental. We remember things in great detail. Men do not. The entire time, Ron is convinced
we are on a fool’s errand wild goose chase we will never find it, but then, he gets lost in a paper bag.
I guide him through the alley flanking the left side of the Spanish steps.
At the end, we turn left onto the via Margutta – an extremely long block. The Osteria is still there, mid-way on the left hand side. I am sure it’s the same place, even though inside it has changed. Sporting a modern decor, Roy Lichtenstein type prints adorn the walls. Ron insists it’s not the place. He’s so adamant that I almost begin to believe him. We take a table anyway and I sit with my back to the wall. After ordering, we sip a Montepulciano and talk about that night.
Suddenly, he laughs. “Oh, this is definitely the place.”
I pick up my glass, give it a swirl. “So
wtf what changed your mind?”
“Just turn around…”
And there, hanging above me, the universe confirmed my excellent sense of direction
Well, now that my daughter is engaged, we’ll be dress shopping soon. Once that’s done, I’ll have to tell you about finding the dress for my wedding – an Italian connection of another kind. For now though, why don’t you join me in toasting the happy couple.