Monday, February 26, 2007

We interrupt the grocery shopping posts...

Today I was going to let you in on a few other idiosyncracies of Italian grocery shopping, but I wanted to share something that just happened instead...

I was at the corner store this morning getting a few groceries (I promise, this isn't about grocery shopping), and I asked the man behind the deli counter for some cheese. If you've read my "Village People" post, this man is Sonia's husband, Sonia being the lady who was telling me about her colicky granddaughter.

So as he was wrapping up the cheese, I asked about his granddaughters (he's got two--a 3-year-old and a 2-month-old). A grin spread across his face, and he said, "Do you want to see something great?" I was sure he'd show me a photo of his granddaughters. "Sure," I said. He came around the counter holding a small piece of paper to his chest so I couldn't see it. "You know those Chinese people?"

I raised an eyebrow. (Actually, I can't really do this, although I've always wished I could. In my mind, though, I raised my eyebrow). "Um, Chinese people?" I answered.

"You know, the ones on the bikes with that contraption thing in the back that holds sacks of rice?"

I'm guessing he meant a rickshaw-like contraption. "Sure," I said.

He held the paper out where I could see it and grinned. There was a sketch drawn in blue pen of a bicycle with an extention in the back that looked like a cart. He lowered his voice, like this was all top secret. "I'm going to build this," he said. "But not for carrying's for carrying my granddaughters!"

I oohed and ahhed over the sketch and the idea, and then he said, "Here, I'll show you." He waved me back into the storage room and pointed to the rafters where two used children's bicycles hung. "I got these second-hand," he said. "I'll use the wheels for the cart." And then he told me how he'd paint the cart red, put in a soft cushion covered in fake fur (not sure where this idea came from) and he'd have seat belts. And when the girls are old enough, he'd take them to Lipiza (a few kilometers away in Slovenia, with miles of tree-lined paths).

"And then," he raised his arms with a flourish, "Andrò in giro con le mie due stelline," which means he'll take a spin with his two little stars.

I've chatted with this man many times over the past few years, and he's always been friendly. But I've always thought of him as the "Deli Man," and nothing more. From now on, I'll see him as the rickshaw-building Nonno pedaling around Lipiza carting his two little stars behind him...

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