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Thursday, 21 December
Last Remembrances

Okay, so it turns out I have a few more things to say about our recent trip to Italy. It's just a bunch of random crap, really, that I never got around to fitting in anywhere else.

THE FLIGHTS

. . . were fairly horrible. As they usually are, of course, even though British Airways still makes with the free booze and gives you wine with dinner. I really do like that when they served dinner--some mysterious roast-y kind of thing, which could have been worse--they asked me if I wanted white or red wine. This despite me still having a full beer in front of me. "Red, please!" I squealed. Just for good measure, I also grabbed another beer. Who knows when I would see them again?

Alas, the meal and/or the flight disagreed with the wife terribly, and she got horribly sick right when we were coming into Heathrow. As in, circling Heathrow, waiting for landing clearance; the wife hunched over her knees, wracked with nausea. I felt helpless and awful, and passed her one of those pitiful barf bags, not sure if I should hover over her consolingly or turn away and let her vomit in peace. The guy on the aisle looked pretty jumpy too. But she hung on. She even signaled frantically to the strapped-in stewardess: Can I go heave in the bathroom? She got a prim "Nope!" response. She clenched her teeth. Finally, we landed, taxied for a small eternity, and then when the signal came, she made a heroic dash to the WC and audibly brought up the unidentifiably roast-y matter from her stomach.

My girl is strong. She don't vomit in her seat! By God, she'll get to that bathroom or die trying. And the guy on the aisle seat's body language was pure "Man, that's awesome that chick didn't puke in her seat." You wouldn't think that body language could say that, but his totally did.

On the way back from Italy, things grew more baffling and horrid. My thesis is, on BA flights from the States, the airline strives to American-ize their meals. Hence the puzzling-yet-edible roast-y thing. But on BA flights from England, well . . . I suspect that the menu is a bit more Brit-oriented. Otherwise, I have no explanation for what happened on that flight when the "meals" were handed out.

"We have a selection of sandwiches," the steward announced (if "selection" is really a word when the number of choices is "two"): "We have chicken and ham, or cheese."

What?

Chicken and ham? Versus . . . lonely cheese? I was immediately nervous, and while I like chicken, and while I like ham, I was not really interested in a pas de deux of these meats. I decided to get the decidedly unthreatening cheese.

As it turns out, the whole "chicken/ham vs. cheese" thing turned out to be a cruel joke, a trick question no matter what. To paraphrase Wargames, the only winning strategy was not to play. They were not "chicken and ham" sandwiches; there were two half-sandwiches in one wrapper; one chicken, and one ham. This is what the wife went for. Similarly, the "cheese" option contained two half-sandwiches, one with some sort of clotted pus shot through with orange matter. I read the ingredients label and discovered that this alarming snot was infested with "carrot chutney." And the other half of the "cheese" sandwich is unknown to me, since the phrase "carrot chutney" combined with the leukemic substance purporting to be cheese had made me forget about the concept of eating for the next ten hours. The wife, I noticed, had similarly given up on both the chicken and the ham options, as one was polluted with horrifyingly elastic onion slices, and the other seemed to pulse with malign intent. We both guiltily wadded up the things a little bit--maybe they'll think we actually bit into them if we make them smaller!--and crammed them back into their bags, uneaten and mutilated.

THE MUSIC

I have already commented on many of the mind-wrecking songs we were forced to endure, over and over, thanks to the familiar banality and sheer repetitiveness of MTV Italia (as with any iteration of MTV): Madonna, Pink, the goddamn Red Hot Chili Peppers (whose "Hey-O" uncomfortably set up echoes in my mind where I'd try and shoehorn the lyrics to "Day-O" into the flabby melody of their terrible song).

But I forgot to mention the incredibly awful and incredibly ubiquitous Evanescence, whose single "Call Me When You're Sober" got almost nonstop airplay in Italy. This is such a weird band. Featuring the worst excesses of goth, nu metal and vaguely Teutonic chord progressions, and fronted by one Amy Lee, a woman who sings with the force and grandeur of a stuck car horn, Evanescence is yet again an answer to a question nobody ever wanted to ask: What if Fred Durst and Bette Midler died, came back to life, and joined Sisters of Mercy?

THE FALL

There really isn't much to this last story, really. One of the funny features of our trip was our ability to find out-of-place Irish bars all over the place. We found one in Rome--it was five blocks from our hotel--and we found one in Florence. (We didn't find one in Arezzo, and that was just fine.)

Going to an "Irish" bar on the continent really only guarantees two things: one, they will have Guinness on tap; and two, there will be TV screens with soccer playing. That's cool. I like Guinness. I don't give a shit about soccer, but I really like Guinness.

In Florence, when we discovered the Irish bar, we walked in enthusiastically. Too enthusiastically. The wife was in the lead, and as she opened the front door, she failed to notice the extra step up. She opened the door to the place, and warm air hit us; many people were seated right inside, glued to the football match; she tripped. She fell down on her face spectacularly, her arms thrown out in front of her. It was a complete disaster of an entrance, worthy of Buster Keaton.

The football fans glanced over at this sprawling American woman with little interest. The wife climbed to her feet and gave a Mary Katherine Gallagher "ta-dah!" gesture. The football fans turned back to watch the soccer players dick around some more with the ball, resolutely not scoring.

I do love my wife so very much. But I have never laughed so hard in my life.

Roam | Skot | 21 Dec, 2006 |

Note: Comments are closed on old entries.

Comments

Aw, hellz yes. This is what truly romantic travel writing is all about! Vomit, shitty food, and making a brilliantly un-self conscious ass of oneself. Youse two belong tugeddah.

And your Punnett Square analysis of the barftacular Evanescence is genius. I mean, *supastah*

Comment number: 010058   Posted by: Auntie Maim on December 22, 2006 07:45 AM from IP: 137.99.84.206

Holy crap, I think I've been to that bar in Florence! They put shamrocks into the beer and everything.

Comment number: 010061   Posted by: Kara on December 22, 2006 07:56 AM from IP: 72.51.3.146

Skot, really...isn't your entire blog "just a bunch of random crap, really, that I never got around to fitting in anywhere else"?

And what does it say about me that I continue to come back and read your tripe? You're blog is like the sweet delicious heroin. I feel so dirty.

Damn you.

Merry Christmas!

Comment number: 010064   Posted by: You can call me, 'Sir' on December 22, 2006 09:11 AM from IP: 66.56.131.226

Skot, really...isn't your entire blog "just a bunch of random crap, really, that I never got around to fitting in anywhere else"?

And what does it say about me that I continue to come back and read your tripe? You're blog is like the sweet delicious heroin. I feel so dirty.

Damn you.

Merry Christmas!

Comment number: 010065   Posted by: You can call me, 'Sir' on December 22, 2006 09:11 AM from IP: 66.56.131.226

Been a lurker now for over a year. Apologies for not saying hullo sooner. But damnit, if your assessment of Evanescence wasn't spot on. I'm afraid I'll need to go in search of glass cleaner for the monitor after the spit take I did.

Coca-cola. Out the nose.

Ah, classic.

Merry Chri'mus to you and yer kin (as we say here in the dirrrrty south).

Comment number: 010068   Posted by: myra on December 22, 2006 09:37 AM from IP: 66.149.143.202

Been a lurker now for over a year. Apologies for not saying hullo sooner. But damnit, if your assessment of Evanescence wasn't spot on. I'm afraid I'll need to go in search of glass cleaner for the monitor after the spit take I did.

Coca-cola. Out the nose.

Ah, classic.

Merry Chri'mus to you and yer kin (as we say here in the dirrrrty south).

Comment number: 010069   Posted by: myra on December 22, 2006 09:38 AM from IP: 66.149.143.202

I seem to be in the same boat as myra, as I have read this for a year or so but never commented...and I had to now because your assessment of Evanescence is hilarious and brilliant! But I do have a question, when you write "Teutonic chord progressions" do you mean I-IV-V-I? That may seem like a stupid, trivial question but I've never heard the phrase before and I'm interested...

Comment number: 010070   Posted by: Lisa on December 22, 2006 10:04 AM from IP: 24.218.16.45

I had heard about the flight in from your lovely missus, but she failed to mention her spectacular entrance into the Irish bar in Florence. I can picture it so perfectly in my head, including your laughing.

Merry Chrisnukkah and Happy Festivus!

Hope to maybe see you & the wife tomorrow?

Comment number: 010076   Posted by: Suzanne on December 22, 2006 01:02 PM from IP: 66.235.57.95

Nice to have you back. Looks like I have some catching up to do....

Comment number: 010117   Posted by: Diesel on December 23, 2006 11:17 AM from IP: 69.45.184.253

Merry Christmas!

Comment number: 010160   Posted by: Diesel on December 25, 2006 11:08 AM from IP: 69.45.184.253

Apparently Dublin is being over-run with fake Irish pubs. Which are forcing real Irish pubs out of business. But I suppose there's Guinness either way.

Comment number: 010161   Posted by: rantomation on December 25, 2006 11:31 AM from IP: 68.211.65.88

I have a British colleague at work who eats sandwiches made of cheese and Branston pickle, which looks like chutney to me, chopped up vegetables bound in a dark sludge. So I bet your cheese sandwich was the same sort of thing. Yuck.

Oh, and Merry Christmas. I am glad you're back, it gives me something to do at work.

Comment number: 010210   Posted by: spygeek on December 27, 2006 12:10 PM from IP: 192.28.2.52

Irish bars... oh yeah.

the wife and i were in Japan last year, for two weeks. after five days of guessing at what we were ordering (even McDonald's and KFC were full of unfamiliar stuff), we threw in the towel, and found an Irish pub (3, actually) in Kyoto. ahh... familiar surroundings, and some nice comfy fish, chips and Guinness. sometimes, consistency is a good thing.

Comment number: 010407   Posted by: cleek on January 2, 2007 07:23 AM from IP: 66.162.205.50

Irish bars in continental Europe! Yes! My husband and I make a point of hitting the Irish bar wherever we find ourselves (and there always is one: I believe there's probably an Irish bar in Gdansk). We just returned from Barcelona, where we watched the footy in a very pleasant Irish bar featurning watery Guinness and a table of English lager louts who screamed and swore at everyone, reminding us why we'd left London in the first place. Result.

Comment number: 010549   Posted by: Robin on January 6, 2007 07:47 AM from IP: 86.143.170.177

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