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I got to thinking about all of the regrets of my life – all of those moments I’d like to have back for one reason or another. There was the time I insulted my sister’s personal training abilities and made her cry, that once when I should have poked Bob in the eye (although there were quite a few times like that), the first pitch of the championship game of the ’03 CDO tournament, the thing I said to the reporter about why I chose to pitch to Callista Balko (ooooh – Wikipedia evidently knows Callista! Awesome!), the winter when I drank 3 gallons of eggnog and gained 20 lbs, the couple of months I dated PJ, the few months with Dirtbag, the 3 days in Venice…ah, Venice.
If I had access to a time machine, I’d travel back to the summer of 2004. I’d just given up softball, and my mom and I were all a-frenzied about our first overseas trip. Every ten minutes or so for about 2 weeks, I’d ask my mom, “Are you excited?”
I asked her while we shopped for stuff to take with us.
I asked her while we packed the stuff.
I asked her while we got dressed that morning.
I asked her at the airport.
I asked on the plane to London.
And in the airport in London.
and on the plane to Rome
and in the cab in Rome
and in the hotel
and every day in Rome until I accidentally left her on the subway, which was quite enough excitement for one trip… but that’s another story.
All throughout high school, I’d tried to talk my mom into a trip to Italy. I was all about the Colosseum and Pompeii – oh how romantic they seemed. The history. The art. The culture. Obviously if I went to Italy, I would become sophisticated and attractive.
I know. That’s just the truth about how 19-year-old Katie thought.
After quitting softball, I was pretty sure that I was the most hideous creature alive. I could bench 105 lbs, but I didn’t know how to put on eye shadow 🙂 Going to Italy was going to be this wonderful transition from athlete Katie to girl Katie – not to mention, it was going to get me out of the states for the Women’s Junior College World Series, which the team I’d abandoned just a couple of months before was certainly going to win.
We started out our trip in Rome, which was fast and crowded, and not at all like Gladiator. Still, my mom and I befriended a British couple who were really fun. Also, there were at least 3 nice young men who asked me to have gelato with them or said, “Ciao, Bella!” as they passed by me. There’s nothing like an Italian man to put pimples and ungirly charms into perspective.
Next stop was Florence, which was our favorite city – mostly because very little excitement happened there.
Finally, we were on to Venice. I was SO excited. More than any other part of the trip, I’d been looking forward to Venice. I couldn’t imagine anything cooler than streets of water, glass-blowing, and gondola rides.
After actually experiencing Venice, though, I’d have to say that it isn’t as awesome as you’d think it is. Granted, I might think it’s more awesome if I ever gain access to a time machine – but really, Venice is stinky, touristy, pricey, crowded, constricting, etc… The only cool thing we did in Venice was feeding the birds outside of St. Mark’s. Other than that, Venice sucked.
The men in Venice were constantly “accidentally” bumping into me, which at first seemed like I ought to protect my valuables… but really it was a different sort of “valuable” they were after, and after the first day of walking around I wished I was a bit more hideous. I gave up on showering while we were there, which didn’t help at all with the men, but did make me feel rather depressed because I started to smell an awful lot like seaweed. In addition to the bunches of men who were making me feel crappy at least two or three times a day, there was one particular man who exposed his parts to us and groped me. My mom somehow didn’t notice the man’s rather conspicuoussly exposed parts. Perhaps she’s been a nurse for too long and parts don’t traumatize her like they do me.
Sidenote: I don’t want to be greedy with my use of the time machine, but if there’s any way it would work out I would totally go back and find the man with the exposed parts and hire a mafia member to rough him up a bit, but if I could only do one thing, I’d let him be because there’s a bigger fish I’d like to fry – The Gondolier.
He wasn’t even an awesome gondolier. We were rather cheap travelers. Otherwise, we’d have found a gondolier on the Grand Canal and just payed the extra 20 or so Euros. This guy was hanging out way back away from the touristy areas, which is why we chose him. We just wanted a quiet ride so that we could go back to the states and say that we’d ridden on a gondola. Instead, I ended up getting uninvited gondolier tongue in my mouth.
I don’t exactly know how it happened, but I blame my mom. All throughout our ride, Gross Gondolier kept talking about how I couldn’t leave Italy without a kiss from an Italian man. At that point in my life, I’d only kissed one boy, and it hadn’t exactly been all that the movies make it out to be. So I smiled awkwardly without saying anything – which I thought was a pretty clear sign that I wasn’t interested in any kissing. When he brought it up 4 or five more times, I started saying things like, “That’s alright. I’m good,” because it seemed like a relatively polite way of rejecting him. But when our ride was over, our Gross Gondolier clearly hadn’t taken the hint. He called his gondolier buddy to come over because we evidently needed someone to take a picture of my Italian man kiss.
I tried to say no. I swear I did, but my mom was smiling sheepishly at me like she thought I really wanted the kiss. She probably thought I was just embarrassed to kiss him in front of her, and at that point it started seeming easier to give him a quick peck.
It was just a peck, right?
Right – or at least it would have been except that his buddy who was taking the picture didn’t know how to work a camera. Of course I believe that. So the peck happened and was wasted.
“Oh. Sorry,” the buddy said with his stupid Italian jerk accent. “No flash. Again.”
I gave Gondolier the unhappy camper look, so he gave me a break and had a peck with my mom, which there was a picture of. Then there was a redo of his kiss with me – during which, I experienced Italian jerk tongue.
Oh the thing I would do if I had access to a time machine! I’d find that goldolier and throw him into the stinky Venice canal. AND I would refuse to pay him. Because in real life I’m much too much of a chicken for any such business. I got uninvited tongue in my mouth, and he got 60 Euros. What a deal! I’ve never regretted anything more than not shoving that suave, Italian dungwad into the water. I also regret not carrying a carton of eggs with me that day so that after he emerged out of the green canal, I could pelt him. I had just quit playing softball, remember, so I could probably have given him some pretty serious bruises. You know what else I regret? I regret not having an ax with me to chop up his stupid boat. Yeah. If I’d had an ax, I would have finished pelting him with eggs then chopped that gondola into toothpick-sized splinters. You know what else I regret? I regret not hiring that mafia guy (remember the one I’d hire to rough up the exposed parts man?) to walk around the edge of the canal menacingly so that the gondolier man wouldn’t be able to get out of the stinky water. There he would be, swimming around in stink, with egg yolk in his hair and three swelling welts on his face from where I’d hit him with eggs, and he wouldn’t be able to get out of the water. And you know how I said that I wouldn’t pay him? Scratch that. I’d take his 60 Euros, secure them to a rock with a rubber band, dangle it in front of him, then drop it into the canal just out of his reach.
Was it worth it gondolier man! Was it?
Here’s your 60 Euros!
I hate you, gondolier man!
That’s exactly what I’d do with access to a time machine. What would you do?