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SALT V

Monday, July 8, 2024
Avast there! Did you read
the previous installment
?
Go read it now!
Later, I was in Italy with some friends, all of whom knew about the salt shaker and the iodine and my itchy scalp and all the rest. We spent three nights in Rome and four in Florence. Recall now that the salt shaker
pictured in SALT I
was purchased in Venice.
Rome had no salt shaker to offer me. There was not, to my disappointment, a Coliseum-shaped salt shaker in the Coliseum gift shop. The Vatican Museum had none in the shape of the Pope's head. Neither was there a salt shaker anywhere in Trastevere. All of Rome, it seems, must be suffering unknowingly from hyperthyroidism.
Ditto for Florence.
On our last day in Florence, we decided to take a day trip by train to Venice. Once there, I went into the first gift shop that I saw. My friends walked along without me.
And I found it! There it was on a bottom shelf in all its colorful Venetian glory. And for only €15! I paid and caught up with my friends.
***
We spent an idyllic day strolling through the streets, looking at art and old buildings. At around 5:30pm, we decided to hire a gondola for a sunset boat ride. The gondolier said he could take us out for an hour and drop us off at Piazza San Marco. Our train back to Florence would leave at 7:05pm and the train station was some distance from the piazza, but no one did the math.
The gondola ride was relaxing beyond belief. The lapping of the water, the chatter of tourists on the street, the absence of noisy cars. Five friends in a boat at dusk. What more could a person need?
When we disembarked, we learned that we were now a 45 minute walk from the train station from which our train would leave in 25 minutes. This math we were capable of. We had negative 20 minutes to spare.
"We have to run," said Estelle. "Let's go."
And so we ran, winding our way through Venice's winding, twisting alleys, dodging and weaving through crowds of tourists. Venice is the calmest, most peaceful city I have visited. There are no cars honking, no trucks, no harried businessmen. The tourists who overwhelm the city have nowhere to be. (Well, except for us.) They stroll. They amble. They putz.
In New York, if one is late for a train and running along the sidewalk, one will likely be passed by dozens of others who seem to be walking casually. In New York, five young adults of various ethnic backgrounds running through the street is unremarkable. In Venice, we were a spectacle.
At one point I was bringing up the rear when we entered a wide plaza. As we passed one group of startled (American) tourists, I heard one woman say to her friend, "Watch your purse! Watch your purse!"
As if we had time to steal anyone's purse! We had a train to catch!
I wonder if her reaction would have been better or worse if we had put the white guy in front.
Sweating and out of breath, we made it onto the train. It left as soon as we sat down. My new salt shaker was still intact.
***
I don't know exactly what that story has to do with the salt shaker, but I think it's a good one. I think of it often when I'm shaking my salt shaker.
Deeper connections and hidden meanings are left as an exercise to the reader, but I'll start you off with this one: be stupid. Don't order a salt shaker from Amazon or Etsy. Go into stores that don't sell salt shakers and ones with 2 milliliter salt shakers and ask dumb questions of souvenir shop employees and don't do any math before getting into a gondola.
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