My New Grand-Mama Mia!

, , , , , | Hopeless | April 1, 2018

(It is the late 90s, and I am 12 years old. I get to go on a ten-day trip to Italy with my family and five other families. It is planned through a travel agency, so we are already signed up to see and do certain things. The day arrives when we reach Venice by bus, and I am not feeling well at all. It turns out, I’ve gotten food poisoning from the rest stop we ate breakfast at this morning. I am the only one who ate a particular bad food item, and therefore am the only one who is sick. My parents are pretty upset, because getting on a gondola is out of the question for me, and it’s something we’ve all been looking forward to. I am already nauseated enough on dry land. They are discussing which one of them will stay with me while the rest of our group goes on the gondolas, or if they could possibly switch off at some point, when our tour guide comes over with an older Italian lady.)

Tour Guide: “Good news! You can both go on the gondola ride. My friend here will stay with your daughter.”

Mom: “Oh! Thank you, but we don’t want to impose. I can stay with [My Name].”

Tour Guide: “No, no, no! You must experience the gondola! [My Name] can stay here with [Lady]. She owns a restaurant near where we will dock later.”

(After talking it out for a few minutes, and after our tour guide assures them again she’s known the lady for a long time, my parents agree to meet me at the restaurant after the gondola ride. So, the tour guide walks the lady and I back to her little restaurant on the water. I am so sick to my stomach that I nearly throw up again before we reach it. The tour guide leaves, and the lady ushers me inside the restaurant. Inside, the lady says something in rapid Italian. I know only a few words, and am so nauseated all I can do is stare at her and try to not throw up on her shoes. The lady clucks her tongue at me and guides me to a little back room with an attached bathroom. She tells everyone we pass something about me in Italian. I assume she is informing everyone of my plight, but who knows. I also think random people keep calling me bebe, which I assume means “baby.” I’m sure I look pretty miserable. I spend the afternoon alternating between running to the bathroom and huddling on a tiny couch in that room. The lady checks on me every so often, bringing me some kind of broth and water to drink. By the time my parents come back with the tour guide, I feel better enough to make it to our hotel. They are very grateful to the lady for looking after me, and we even go to eat at her restaurant before we leave Venice, when I am able to eat again. Back home from our trip, a friend is asking me for details about everything we saw in Italy.)

Friend: “Oh! Did you go on one of those little boat things in Venice? Did the driver sing that song they always sing in the movies?”

Me: “Uh… No. My mom and dad got to go, but I was sick.”

Friend: “Aw, really? You didn’t get to go at all?”

Me: “No, but I became very well-acquainted with a Venetian bathroom. I also think I have an Italian grandma, now.”

(Thank you again, kind Italian lady, for watching a sick kid who couldn’t understand a word you were saying!)

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