[This post originally appeared in Dullicious, where I blogged as Barbie-dull for several years.]
Italy, Bologna, Hotel Holiday near via dell’Indipendenza. It’s well after midnight. I’m at the window. I light a cigarette and as I place the lighter back in the pack, both escape my clumsy hands –dumb me!– and fall noisily in the corner of the inner courtyard, a few stories below.
This is a roof, really. And it seems there are only windows around it; only one is lit. Alerted by the noise, somebody downstairs looks out their window; I see an arm pushing a shutter wide open.
I have more cigarettes in my backpack. But no spare lighter. I’d prefer to act now. I hope the people in the room downstairs will open their door when I knock. It’s almost 1 am.
“Buona sera, ” I announce when a man opens the door enough to show his face and let the TV sound flow out of the room. “Sono nella camera al terzo piano e le mie sigarette sono cadutte dalla finestra.”
I’m in the room on the third floor and I dropped my cigarettes through the window. He raises his eyebrows and remains quiet.
“E possibile che vado fuori dalla vostra finestra?” I ask while my hand is pointing at myself first and then in the general direction of beyond those walls.
Is it possible for me to go outside through your window? The man remains silent as he nods.
“Grazie!” I thank him as he opens the door to let me in. As I pass him I notice he’s wearing boxer shorts and that’s it.
The room is smaller than mine. There is a woman on the bed. I smile apologetically at her. She looks very perplexed as I cross the room. Below the waist she’s wearing panties, and above, she’s wearing… an open book…
I dash to the window that is already open, sit on the window sill, pivot outside, walk a few steps, pick up my pack of cigarettes and soon I pivot again inside the room. I make sure they see the cigarettes as I re-enter their room.
Not much has changed in the minute it took me. The man is now on the bed, lying next to the woman who hasn’t moved at all. The door is closed.
“Grazie milla, e scusa.” Thanks a lot, and sorry.
One last embarassed smile and I’m out of here.
As I was reliving the event in my own room, I thought of Mister Poggi. He was my Italian teacher at school some fifteen years ago. And I imagined writing him a letter to describe how his lessons had just been useful to me.