Monday, June 09, 2003

"Bear with me on this..." - Ed S., whenever he was telling a long-winded story..

Thursday - Off to Sorrento!!!!

Rock on- gold dust woman
Take your silver spoon
And dig your grave

Heartless challenge
Pick your path and i'll pray

Wake up in the morning
See your sunrise- loves- to go down
Lousy lovers- pick their prey
But they never cry out loud

Did she make you cry
Make you break down
Shatter your illusions of love
Is it over now- do you know how
Pick up the pieces and go home.

Thursday Morning started out fairly well. Classes went smoothly, and though I had intended to do some things - like add more minutes to the cell phone - I never got to them. The plan was to meet at 3:30, and get cabs over to Termini, Rome's main train station, with the intention of catching the 4:45 EuroStar to Naples. From there, we'd have to take a local train to Sorrento. The EuroStar is a two hour ride, sometimes a bit faster, but the local was an hourlong excursion to go thirty-five miles.

We made it to Termini with about thirty-five minutes to spare, and proceeded to get into two lines - one for the four people with EuroRail passes, one for the seven who needed tickets. After some English-Italian confusion, Chip ordered the tickets for the seven of us, and we all chipped in for our fare. All that remained was for the cashier to print up our tickets. Problem was, the printer wouldn't work. As the clock ticked, we began to get rather nervous. Three-fifty. Four o'clock. Four-ten. Four-twenty. The train was leaving in ten minutes, and we were no nearer to getting on. I told Bob to check what track it was on so we wouldn't lose time when the tickets came. He said it wasn't on the board. Could we be lucky, and the train late? Four-twenty-five. Finally, we get the tickets, with minutes to spare. We make a mad dash for the departure area and......the train has been delayed. To five-fifteen. We had made it.

The rest of the trip to Sorrento was rather uneventful, although it was a long train ride from Napoli to Sorrento on a local train (but at least we didn't have to ride with gypsies, like John and Heather would the next night).

After we were settled in, we went in search of dinner. Having eleven people somewhat limits your choices, but we managed to find what we thought was a decent restaurant, and the waiter seemed very pleasant. It was a ruse, as we found out. When il conto (the check) came, it had a fifteen percent servicio charge, as was stated on the menu. But our waiter, who had spent much of the evening laughing, joking and talking to us about how much he loved America, must have thought we were idiots, as he told us, 'oh no, that's not a service charge (tip), that's VAT.' VAT? On food? There's no VAT (Value Added Tax) on food in Italy. Apparently, he thought he'd slip it by us and get a bigger tip. As the commercial said, sorry Charlie. We left him an extra three Euro.

Afterward, we went drinking at the Merry Monk, right by our hotel. Mistake. Big mistake. HUGE mistake. I stayed fairly sober, and everyone else pretty much got plowed, save for Elise. R and Alice walked Elise back to the hotel when she got tired, but only Alice returned. R had decided to go elsewhere. J, her pseudo-boyfriend, declined to follow her. We closed the Merry Monk around two, and headed back to the hotel.

It was about four-thirty a.m. when I heard the knock on the door. Initially quiet, it grew louder and more persistent. I originally ignored it, thinking it was one of the drunk contingent who'd come back with me. But finally, annoyed, I opened the door. It was Elise, and the story she told me was a fantastic one - R had come back, incredibly drunk, to the room she was sharing with J. An argument had ensued, the hotel manager called, and J had booted R out of the room. R was now downstairs, in tears, hysterical, and the hotel manager was asking her to leave. Could I please do something.

So, nice guy that I am, I did. I went downstairs, and talked to the hotel manager. He informed me that he could give R a room for the night - normally eighty Euro, but for the night he'd make it thirty. I told him to give me the room, and paid him. I dragged R to the room and sat her down on the bed. She was hyperventilating, babbling, and crying. She didn't want me to leave; I told her I'd left the room open (in Europe, only one hotel key is given for each room, and the doors are self-locking. It was dark in the room, and I didn't want to turn on a light to find the key). Finally, I went up to the room, and filled in Elise, and now Alice, on the situation. Alice volunteered to spend the night with R. We went back down, only to find that R was just about to walk out of the room. We shoved her back in. She insisted she was leaving. We told her there was no bus, no train and no cab, so her only way back to Rome was to walk. She said fine, she'd do that. I blocked the door, trying to keep her inside. She claimed that I was falsly imprisoning her (leave it up to a law student to bring up torts). I told her that American laws don't apply in Italy.

Finally, exasperated, I gave up, and let her out. She stormed through the lobby, and the hotel manager, now very worried, chased after her, out into the street. I told him to let her go (she's very petite, and no match for anyone in her drunken state). He raced back in, and told me about a bus, direct to Rome that left at six. It was five-forty. Without my contacts or glasses, wearing the shorts and t-shirt I wore to bed (and running shoes), I ran out of the hotel after her. As I neared the piazza where the bus picked up passengers, a good half-mile plus later (she walked fast, I thought), I finally caught her. I told her about the bus. I walked her to the stop. We met an American couple who agreed to make sure she got on the bus. I gave her a hug and said goodbye. I half jogged, half walked back to the hotel. It was five fifty-five. I walked upstairs, told Elise and Alice all was well, and crawled into bed.

At six-fifteen, the phone rang.

"She back. The woman no leave. She come back, and now she sleep in the room."
"She no go. She back, and now she sleep."
"Great. Thanks. Buen Notte."

Once again, I crawled out of bed. I went downstairs to make sure she didn't make a scene when she crawled back in. I wasn't going to ask about the couple from Texas.

As I was talking to the manager, telling him R was crazy, she came up to the desk. She wanted to talk to J. The manager was having none of it. He and I walked her back to the room I'd rented for her. He told her to go to sleep, and me to go to my room. She insisted that I stay with her. They argued for a few moments, and eventually, I persuaded him to let me stay with her. He closed the door behind me.

R was babbling, and crying again. I closed the windows, closed the drapes, and turned off all the lights. We both lay down on the bed, where she kept talking, and talking, and I just laid there, eyes closed, hoping she'd fall asleep. Then, after twenty minutes, her voice weakened, then stopped. A few moments later, I heard only her breathing. I started to feel nauseous.

I waited about twenty more minutes, to be sure she was sleeping deeply, and then I crawled out of bed and went back to my room. On the way back, I asked for some tea, which the manager had offered earlier, but the offer had been withdrawn. I got to my room, and spent the next half hour in the bathroom. Finally, at seven-forty, I climbed into bed. At nine, I was awakened by the noise and activity around me. I'd managed to get two hours sleep.

Later that day, R paid me back for the room, and went to another hotel.

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