Sunday, July 4, 2004

Milano, Milano

Given the serious damage Milan in a sales season can do to one's wealth I have probably gotten off light. Around 90 euro has netted me two jazz CDs (Brad Mehldau, Cassandra Wilson), some linen pants in a kind of denim blue with a thin brown double pin stripe and a white business shirt with a pattern of fine blue stripes.

I have also risked life and limb, getting used to being zipped around Milan on the back of S's scooter. We could, apparently, have taken a car had he not left his wallet at the metal detector at Stansted airport last week.

His parents have been absolutely lovely to me. Though I might rupture something from the sheer volume and variety of light summer foods and cold pasta that have been pressed upon me.

Basically, it's been a day and a half of taking it easy and ambling around in the heat. We were turned away from the Cathedral interior on the grounds we were wearing shorts and I was happy enough to skip any cultural dimension after the overload in Florence.

Our cultural high point was sipping white martinis on the pavement seating of a bar in a not terribly fashionable lane (eating free prosciutto, melon, artichoke heart salad, white cheese and tomato) talking about common friends and uncertain futures as the orange trams rattled by.

If S lands a job here while he takes a year out to apply to Columbia for a PhD, I will have to come back often. Especially now S has mentioned those fatal words in suit shopping: "outlet store".

Tomorrow I am going back to Firenze to finish off a few sights and to pick up that brown oily-calfskin leather jacket, even though it will blow a 150 euro hole in my budget, I just want it in ways verging on the idolatrous. Still, at the price it would be wasteful not to buy it.

I expect the train trip will advance me a further three hours through what will be my fourth reading of Jonathon Franzen's "The Corrections" - I don't think a book has ever given me so much pleasure on re-reading. I devour the words.

Thinking of that, in a room of a Fireze museum where the American women did indeed come and go, talking of Michelangelo, I heard the following conversation regarding a fresco:

"Mommy, why is the devil eating that man?"

"The pictures are about the seven sins, darling. That man is being punished for gluttony."

"What's gluttony?"

"Well, honey, it used to be a sin to eat too much ..."

Used to be. Glad to know that the statute of limitations applying to the word of the Eternal has run on that one - at least as regards first world consumerism.

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