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John Palcewski's Journal

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Va Bene
forioscribe





Nonno and his adult daughter and two cute, all-dressed-up little girls occupy the next table at the outdoor café La Piazzetta. Mommie is young. Her large breasts have not yet fallen down to her navel. She’s bright and energetic and all her focus is on the girls. Where else? Nonno’s hair is gray and his face is covered by wrinkles and a white moustache and beard. He leans back in his chair, clasps his hands over his substantial paunch. He has allowed himself to go completely to hell. He does not care what others think of him because he’s done his duty. He has reproduced. Which is his biological destiny. See? His daughter and granddaughters are proof for all to see.

The smallest of the girls is obstinate, and picky. She loudly refuses the banana mommie has just peeled for her. “No! No! NO!” she shouts. But the child finally condescends to sip from the water bottle mommie proffers. The little tyrant pulls a doll close to her chest. Which doll by the way is chocolate-skinned, an African. Which seems odd, since the group is wholly Caucasian.

In a grand gesture Nonno orders gelato all around. The waiter nods. Va bene.

I would like to document this precious tableau vivant. But I can’t take pictures because I’m too close. They’d hear the noise of my camera and then would likely haul my sorry ass to the Carabinieri headquarters up the street for violating their privacy. In Italy it’s against the law to photograph people—even in public places—without their permission. It is even against the law for TV surveillance cameras to be trained on customers who use ATM machines. In Italy privacy rules. As does silence.

For this particular family group life is good. Perfect in the cool shade of the big canvass umbrella. They’re all so smug and comfy and content because the shit has not yet hit the fan for any of them.

But just you wait, grandpa. Sooner or later all those bright smiles will be wiped from your faces. Trouble of some kind will come. It’s inevitable.

The one-legged guy playing the accordion? After putting a couple Euros into his box, I asked him if I could take his picture. He, like the waiter, nodded, and said, Va bene.