So I got a job working in Germany for the summer and my sister sent me a message on Facebook saying, ‘Germany, eh?’ and I replied, ‘Yep’. Her response to this was, ‘Care to elaborate or should I just make up my own story?’. I told her to make up her own story. And this is it….
you were walking down a side street, the one where the pomegranate vendor is that you see every morning to buy your daily dose from for your morning Champagne and Pomegranate drink. Only THIS morning she wasn’t there… only a man in a long overcoat, fedora and dark Wayfarer Ray Bans that were bought in the 60s, not the new, inferior ones that are now produced by Luxxotica. You look around, thinking maybe you had the wrong street, when he approaches you with a rolled up piece of paper. Hesitant, you take the paper and read the inscription… vendi tutti e presentari al 224 Riechmannstraßße, Stuttgart. non fate domande. tutto si spiegherà momento dell’arrivo.
You wonder if your somewhat functional Italian is reading this correctly. This can’t be right. It must have been meant for someone else. You turn to tell the man in the Wayfarers that he must have the wrong person…. but he has vanished. The street is narrow and long and winding, but you can see clear to the end. You would surely be able to see him making his way down this street you think to yourself. How could he have disappeared so quickly? Did he pop into one of these cute little colourful doorways. Did he slip into a side garden? You walk around, fruitlessly searching for the man, but there is no trace of him. You read the paper again. Perhaps you misinterpreted the message. This can’t have been meant for you. You only know a few people in Napoli. Who could have sent such a message?
And furthermore, you were beginning to sweat. Where was the damn pomegranate lady??! You had grown accustomed to your daily tincture. Were you really expected to drink your morning Champagne sans pomegranate like a damned peasant?! Slightly annoyed and sufficiently perplexed, you decide to return home to try to calm your nerves and figure this mess out.
You arrive at your one room flat with a colourful vista of burnt umber rooftops and the Neopolitan sea, that cost more than you were planning to spend, but was so irresistible, you just had to have it. Besides, it was large enough that you could easily share the rent with someone if they were willing to stay in the Aviario- though it no-longer housed any birds and was bright and cheery. The cucina was small and functional and had been re-fitted with the more “modern” cupboards that were considered highly decadent during the second phase of the fascist regime. The owner at the time was whispered to be a close personal friend to Il Duce himself, and was a great fan of the new talking films that were being made in Hollywood, though actively discouraged from being seen in Italy at the time. So enamored with these films, he sought to remodel his house in the style of the great houses of Hollywood. Though decidedly smaller, his house was somewhat successfully modernized with a carefully placed 10 Pound note in the right hands. After WWI, inflation was at an all-time high as the Italian lire was spiraling out of control, though Mussolini had managed somewhat to stave the free fall with the introduction of the highly controversial Quota 90. Anyone who was affluent enough to travel, privately stashed foreign currencies to hedge against the declining lire.
You mixed yourself a Champagne and Mandarino on the wooden counter top, that had now grown old and battered with several decades of chopping and splicing, though you loved the well-worn look. An ultimately inferior concoction, you swig the mixture down in the hopes of stabilizing your increasingly shaking hands. It is well past the hour that you usually have your morning pick-me-up after all, and you aren’t one to pass judgement when your nerves are at stake. Feeling adequately calmed, you pull the crumpled paper from your pocket and pull a well-worn Collins Italian-English dictionary from the libreria that once served as the great library, but now holds the television, CD player and an enormous stack of CD’s and DVD’s from the previous tenant who left on precarious terms. The padrona di casa didn’t elaborate, and you were happy to have a vast, if rather out-dated set of films to watch, mostly Rom-Coms from the 90’s with the odd horror flick thrown in for good measure.
vendi tutti e presentari al 224 Riechmannstraßße, Stuttgart. They couldn’t possibly mean for you to sell everything? Not that you had many posessions, a small opiary that you found at the market that one morning after a particularly raucous evening and bought on impulse, coupled with giddyness still left-over from your 4 am whisky-bend. It seemed a good idea at the time- both the 4 am whisky and the opiary. A complete set of vintage Mahjong pieces that you found in Bali, and have travelled with you ever since. An aluminium orange squeeze press; yes it was large and cumbersome, but you were in that vodka and orange phase and the thought of orange juice from the carton disgusted you.
How much could you possibly get for these items?
Why on earth were you being summoned to Germany of all places? It was cold, impersonal and admittedly the polar opposite to the Mediterranean sensibilities you had grown to love. The idea of eating Weißßewurst and schnitzel didn’t really appeal to you after almost a year of the most delectable dishes know to man-kind, another gift the Romans gave the world. You could however wrap your head around the idea of a daily visit to a German Bierhaus. The Reinheitsgebot of 1487 had not only ensured that German beer was pure, but was the tastiest variety west of the Brunswick-Lüneburg line.
Yep…. This is my family.