March 24, 2012
“Do you speak English?” a man asks. We’re waiting in line at a fishmonger’s shop in Militello Val di Catania, Sicily.
“Yes!” I get happy when I can speak my native language.
“I am Mario. I grew up here, but lived and worked in Brooklyn for so many years.”
I stare at his gorgeous pearly teeth. They make him look so American, setting him apart from all the other old-timers.
“Look!” Mario suddenly yanks at his sweater, pulling it down to expose a scar that divides his chest into east and west.
“Bypass surgery. My doctor told me to get away from the stress of American life. So here I am. I feel wonderful!” He throws up his hands in victory.
Do you see why Sicily has hooked me? This is normal behavior, the way that complete strangers interact with you in a fishmonger’s shop in a town you’ve never set foot in before.
People are connected. They are where they are, not in some virtual world, not plugged into ipods or emailing and texting while they wait for their fish. They’re talking and laughing with each other.
Un bacione (a big kiss) to you, Mario. XXXXX
And to you. XXXXXX
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