June 22, 2011

Naples, Italy. October, 1984

I am famous in the central Naples post office. Or at least I was for a short while back in the autumn of 1984. Apprehensive before my first months-long solo stay in Italy, I’d asked friends to write to me along the way in care of various postas. My friend Simon, as is occasionally his wont, took the occasion to create a scene. When I arrived in Naples, booked into my pensione in the Mergellina neighborhood and set out to explore, I had no idea what might await me. I’d been told that drivers don’t obey red lights (true) and not much else. I stopped at a street fair for a porchetta sandwich and promptly chipped a tooth on the crusty pork goodness. Then, when I arrived at the post office and asked for any held mail for Richard Leonard (the name on my passport), the counterman’s eyes lit up and he started announcing, “LAY-oh-nard! LAY-oh-nard!” About a dozen and a half postal workers gathered around and I was ceremoniously presented with Simon’s 8x12, plastic-encased mailing as the crowd broke into applause. They explained that the card had arrived a week earlier, they had never seen anything like it and they were eager to see who would show up to claim it. Grazie mille, Simone.

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