Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Italian Invasion...Chapter Six (Final & Last Chapter)






























Being a member of the “management” at Ramada Reef Resort, my office was situated amongst an enclave of over-inflated egos upstairs on the second floor. To the left of my niche, across a narrow common area, Carol, the secretary of the General Manager reigned in all her glory. This “supreme being”, flitting back and forth from her monarchical throne, rapaciously held the destiny of the resort and all those who served it in her claw-like hands, or so she believed. Often, taking a break from her despotic duties, Carol would lean against the door frame of my office, or pull up a chair in front of my desk to share her wealth of gossip. Then, now, before and in between, I’ve always tried to shun gossip and those who marvel in the unnecessary, unbecoming, vulgar hobby. I’ve never been so naïve to think that I’m immune from flippant, loquacious tongues. Why should I be so unique not to be the subject of such inane wind-bagging? Carol’s gossip train obviously included me when I was out of earshot. Reticently, I half-listened to her mindless prattle, frequently politely excusing myself by saying I needed to visit the chefs or Fritz, the Food and Beverage Manager whether on pretense or otherwise. Anything to escape her clutches.

Carol was a slave to fashion, although I was never sure who her “Master of Fashion” was. Being of very slim frame, her legs resembled those of a predatory stork and when clad in various garishly striped, coloured or fishnet panti-hose they were quite frightening when one was confronted with them! Instead of disguising her legs, the stockings unflatteringly enhanced their unattractiveness
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Gradually, I began spending more time in Fritz’s office. It soon became apparent my natural progression would be to move in with him. His office was large enough to accommodate both of us. He and I worked together in harmony with me being the “Functions & Conference Manager”. It was agreed that my idea of sharing his office with him was a good idea. Shortly afterwards, I became his unofficial “Assistant Food & Beverage Manager” along with my other role. Finally I’d escaped the suffocating atmosphere of the offices upstairs. My new “home-away-from-home” was located on the lower level, not far along from the main kitchen of the resort. It was a logical move as my main dealings were with Fritz and the chefs. Plus, it was much more fun “down there” away from those who took themselves far too seriously “upstairs”. Fritz and I became the renegades, “comrades in arms”. Our office was full of good cheer and frolicsome fun, minus vitriolic hearsay. It became the meeting place of those of like minds and seemed constantly filled with laughter and high spirits.

One morning the resort was on virtual lock-down as the staff all went into survival mode for fire drill. My role in the drill was to play a guest trapped in one of the accommodation rooms. The room attendants had to search the rooms to ensure no “guest” was vulnerable and then to escort the “guest” to safety. I ensconced myself in the bath tub, figuring that would be a secure spot in case of fire. The door of the room opened and I heard my would-be rescuer fumbling around. After only a few seconds searching, my “saviour” departed, not looking in the bathroom where I remained hidden. Alas, I “perished” in the “fire”!
After the drill was over, my name was put up on the notice board as one who had “perished in the resort fire”. Passing a housekeeper in the hallway, she stopped in stunned silence, looking at me with her mouth agape.

“Oh!” She said in total seriousness and surprise. “I read that you had died in the fire!” I burst out laughing, and then she realized what she had said. People never cease to amaze!

I knew that the clock was ticking on my relationship, my affair with Andrea. There were times when we were together that he would talk about “our future”, but I always nonchalantly tossed the subject aside, changing the direction of the conversation. I knew inside that we had no future together. Andrea was much younger than I and I knew what we had was only a dalliance, even though a “dalliance” that had lasted almost eighteen months. Many times he talked about my visiting his homeland, spending time in the Emilia-Romagna region, meeting his Nonna, his mother, sister, his friends and his father in Bagnacavallo. He wanted to take me to Venice. It all sounded fairy-tale romantic, but I realized that was all it was, a fairy-tale.

Andrea returned once more and we picked up our relationship where we’d left it a couple of months earlier. He was as beautiful to me as he’d always been. At night we’d sit out under the stars, stroll along the beach guided by an incandescent full moon. We’d grasp at the reflection of the luminaries, glimmering like diamonds upon the water. Kicking at the fluorescent phosphorescence at the ocean’s edge, we’d fall into each other’s arms, indifferent to the earth and those on it.

Gradually I felt a shift in beings. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I felt a breaking-away from the life we’d been sharing. Was it my fault? Or was it his fault? Perhaps, it was a bit of both. Life took on a superficial, inert atmosphere. The curtain, ready to be drawn on the final chapter in the lives we’d shared, trembled in the wings.

Bringing it to a head one Saturday evening about three months after his return to me, Andrea paled and fidgeted when I broached the futility of our relationship. I was plunging the knife not only into his body, but also my own. Silently and motionless, he watched me as I spoke, agony clear in his eyes. Beneath his solemn stillness, I detected a small sign of relief or did I imagine it to allay my guilt? We sat talking, sometimes quietly crying, until the sun made its first quivering appearance on the horizon. As soon as it turned into a molten globe blasting across the sky, too powerful to look directly at, we ran down to the beach and plunged our exhausted bodies and souls into the sea.

A couple of weeks later, Andrea and I said our final farewells at Cairns airport, both knowing and understanding we would never see each other again. It was bitter-sweet for us both as we held hands across the table, waiting for his flight to be announced, ignoring the coffee at our elbows as it grew colder and colder.

A few months, perhaps a year later, late one night I received a telephone call from Andrea. Forever gallant and mischievous in his manner, he asked if I missed him.

“No, not at all!” I replied in half-truth.

“I suppose you’ve got yourself a new boyfriend,” he continued cheekily.

“Hundreds!” I laughingly retorted.

It was the last time we talked. But, I do often think of him, remembering the passion, the laughter and the good times we’d shared, wondering where his life path has led him. I wonder if he ever thinks of me. I wish him well. I am glad I “had an Italian love affair”.
The End

18 comments:

  1. I'm not quite sure what made you end it here Lee. Perhaps you thought that he would not ever stay in Australia and you could not go to live in Italy. I think, in your place I probably would have gone to Italy with him to check it out, if you thought he was serious.
    Still water under the bridge now, and I'm sure you enjoyed it while it lasted.
    regards
    jmb

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  2. Well, as I said, jmb...there was a gap of quite a few years between us...commonsense prevailed. :)

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  3. Oh, Lee, you've got me laughing and crying at the same time. Laughing at your wonderful description of Carole and crying at the end of the Andrea affair. Unlike jmb, I can see exactly why you knew you had to end it there and it was generous of you to do so. At least you have those lovely memories. Beautiful photos, btw.

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    1. @Welsh Yes, lovely memories.... Andrew

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  4. Hi Welsh...it was difficult, of course, the ending of our affair, but we had eighteen wonderful months and the future was wide open and beckoning for further exploration, by both of us...on separate paths.

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  5. "Gradually, I felt a shift in beings. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I felt a breaking-away from the life we’d been sharing. Was it my fault? Or was it his fault? Perhaps, it was a bit of both. Life took on a superficial, inert atmosphere."

    That is very well put!

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  6. Thanks, gled. :)

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  7. Hi Lee,

    Sweet, but bitter sweet the romance, sigh.

    Hey do you have a picture of him?

    Janice~

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  8. Hi Lee ~~ A lovely story of a happy
    18 month romance leaving you with great memories, and maybe for Andrea
    as well. Thanks for sharing.
    Thank you for your comments. The girls and I had a lovely day on Thursday and all enjoyed it.
    Take care, my friend, Love, Merle.

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    1. @Merle ..Yes ... even for me ... Andrea

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  9. Life just gets in the way! I understand completely.

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  10. Nice to have happy memories of a past love, I wonder what he is doing now. And yes, what a wonderful sunset.

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  11. Of course he thinks of you just as you do him. A wonderful love affair and interlude to remember.
    I laughed so hard at the description of Carol and in my minds eye I could see a stick figure with garnish legs and a big ole wagging tongue. heehee hee hee.
    Your way with words are always an inspriation to us all. Your talent or should I say talents have us all in AWE.
    Thanks and be sure to read my blog today as it is you I thought about when it was sent to me and I could see you and Remy and Shama as I read it.
    Thanks for entertaining the masses.
    love and prayers

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  12. *sigh*.. no more pasta huh?..bummer.

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  13. Hmmmm, even though this is a somewhat sad post - it is just what I needed to cheer me up today!!!! Life does go on.....

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  14. Hi Janice, Merle, american woman, ellee, Deslily, Lady Di and Rebecca...looks like you all had a group ticket! ;)

    You are most generous in your comments and I thank you for that. :)

    I'm glad you came along with me on my path of nostalgia and that you enjoyed my memories of that time as much as I do.

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  15. Hi Lee, I know exactly what you mean by the gossip mongers in a workplace. I can't stand that sort of carry on. There's enough negativity in the world without adding to it.

    Ahhh, the bitter-sweet ending of a love affair, but it's lovely to look back on and know, in your heart, that you had a wonderful time, but you did the right thing, reluctantly, to end it at a good time. There's nothing worse than a love affair that goes stale. Much better to have a few tears of regret than years of acrimony.

    Great story, Lee, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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  16. I'm glad you enjoyed it, Robyn. And as you say, it's good when you know the time is ripe...the end is right for the picking, so to say. :)

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