Wednesday, 3 April 2013
Why I Quit Writing--Part Two
I hope that what follows doesn't disappoint you too much. There are no words of wisdom, no real insights, there is no glorious epiphany....
The story, however, is completely true...
Meanwhile, I huffed and puffed and tsked with with irritation, annoying my family who felt that our night out was being hijacked not by a obnoxious loud mouthed American bloke, but by an obnoxious, complaining, intolerant (and loud mouthed) American woman--me.
We had dinner. The kids went back to our hotel. My husband and I returned to Campo Santa Margharita.
The chunky guy in the CBGB T-shirt was still there and so were the young Belgians. Within seconds, my ears became fixed (and fixated) on his even-louder intonations. I think by then he was bragging about his job (science lecturer at a state college). I bristled with irritation and so did my husband--not with Mr. CBGB, but with me!
The night wore on. The obnoxious Yank--all right, Yanks--got drunker. The Belgians did too. The men were slumped over in their chairs, the young woman looked wobbly and disoriented.
Although I had one ear tuned to the chunky Yank, my husband and I chatted away. Our conversation turned to something we didn't discuss much in those days--my writing. Jim mentioned a conversation he'd had with someone who'd said it was a "total shame" that I wasn't writing any more.
This was a well-intentioned, totally positive thing to say, right? Of course it was. There was no reason why such a comment should have made me so uncomfortable or aroused such intense and instantaneous hostility.
But it did.
And, seconds after Jim uttered the words "a total shame", the Yank at the other table began making disparaging, offensive, sexually explicit and LOUD comments about the young Belgian woman who'd just stumbled into the caffe. The words were extremely nasty, and I can only describe what happened next as an out-of-body experience.
Rage hurled me out of my chair, sent me weaving through the crowded seating area until I got to the Yank's table.
I don't remember what anyone did, or how anyone looked. I remember nothing except for the words I shouted and how difficult it was keep my balance.
But anger trumped alcohol and I told the Yank that I was SICK to DEATH of having to listen to his ABUSIVE and INSULTING and OBSCENE language about some poor WOMAN, who wasn't even able to DEFEND herself, so why didn't he do everyone in Venice a FAVOUR (only I was saying it in an American accent so I spelled it FAVOR) and just SHUT UP!
When I got back to our table, my husband's eyebrows were raised considerably. He may have said--he was certainly thinking--something along the lines of, "Well, I've seen you do some crazy shit over the years, Jane, but this..."
I ordered another spritz. Jim asked for "Il Conto." My fellow American went quiet. The Belgians staggered off into the night.
But "this" wasn't over.
Just as we were paying the cheque, the Yank came over to OUR table. Seemed he could do the whole "apoplectic with rage" thing, too.
He stood firm, scowled at me and said, "You picked the wrong town, man."
I pulled a face and said, "Huh?"
He said, "You heard me--you picked the wrong town."
"What are you talking about?"
"I know people in this town, man."
"You know people?"
"Like, the mafia or something?"
He nodded. Glared.
"So you're, like, threatening me with the Venetian mob?" I sounded more and more like Joe Pesci with every word I spoke. "The one you hear so much about? The one in all the gangster movies?"
He glared some more. I scoffed.
"Maybe if we were in Palermo, I'd be scared," I said. "Maybe if we were in Napoli."
"Yeah, well you just watch your back," he said, before shuffling away...
That's it, people.
One crazy night is what made me want to write again. Some weird Venetian alchemy that I can't explain. A totally bizarre story that just had to be written down and told, over and over again.
At breakfast the next day, Jim jokingly warned the kids about "the price on Mum's head".
Afterwards I popped out to a little stationery shop and bought a lined notebook and shiny silver pen...
I started to write and haven't looked over my shoulder since.
Except when I'm in Venice, of course!