The day we somehow bumbled our way to Siracusa we went to the historic island of Ortigia and added a new cast member to our daily drama. The sky was looking as angry Hedwig when he first saw his inch. So, bringing to life our motto, “what could possibly go wrong” we immediately arranged to be taken out to sea in a very small boat by a very dubious character. Picture someone less attractive than Nick Nolte in his mug shot and who seemed less trustworthy than, well Nick Nolte in his mug shot.
When approached by the boat operator to take a ride B&B expressed our doubts as to the advisability of setting out in the water under the present weather conditions. But the one man foolish enough to still be out on the water assured the two tourists foolish enough to be considering it, that the storm would blow over. Brunette has significant experience with a dubious character running a boat (her husband) and underestimating the weather and all of that ending poorly. But, as Samuel Johnson famously said of second marriages, we were experiencing “the triumph of hope over experience”.
For purposes of this story let’s refer to the rower/guide/raconteur as Niccolo. Niccolo promised to return the sister duo back to land for an abbreviated fee if weather conditions proved to be too inhospitable. He also clearly gauged that he could potentially distract B&B by employing one of Blonde’s lifelong dreams. The dream of telling tourists completely made up BS, presenting it as facts and going unchallenged. Blonde had not considered the extra impact of speaking like Father Guido Sarducci.
Niccolo had barely tipped, lurched and banged the crappy craft out of the dock before launching into an impassioned tale of a baby of fortune, then misfortune and then fortune again, all because the baby had been “protectioned by the Poopa”. A loose remembrance of the tale is that a son was born to a wealthy couple. They died, but prior to their death asked “the Poopa” to look after their orphaned child. The child was raised by kindly yet unknowing people as all orphans abandoned in stories are, except the ones who are raised by wicked people. (Why aren’t the orphans of folklore ever raised by dull people who have dull failings and dull successes? What is it about orphans that brings out such extremes in human behavior?) Every sentence included “the Poopa protectioned the baby”. (Blonde always thought “protection” prevented babies but she isn’t an expert in babies or Poopas so will defer to those who are.)
The child lived the life of an ordinary villager, which, as far as we could imagine from our experiences in Sicily, would have meant he had serious anger management issues, a love of cigarettes and espresso, no interest in deodorant and propositioned the ladies. Presumably, however, in this case he was better behaved and less smelly.
Finally the Poopa came to Ortigia and announced something along the lines of “I ain’t his baby daddy but the dude who was was a big-time dude and this orphan ain’t no punk- he Da Punk” ! (Please be generous in allowing for the difficulties of translation, a deficit of knowledge regarding Poopas and the fact that the writer has had some wine.) Despite his outing as a serious player, the now man/child-orphan never lost his common touch which may have meant that he only felt up the local ladies. Something like that – except possibly quite different.
The tale went on and on as the storm grew closer and more menacing. B&B could not look at each other without risking an exhalation of laughter that would either blow the clouds away, produce serious farting and/or sink the boat. Blonde tried to project worldly skepticism. Brunette attempted to telepathically send small craft warnings to Niccolo. Neither sister succeeded.
After circling the island in record time Niccolo unceremoniously dumped his passengers back at the dock and demanded the full fee. After some haggling he begrudgingly accepted a somewhat lesser amount. However, it was clear from Niccolo’s final remarks, that his recent passengers were not going to be afforded the protection of the Poopa. (There might have been something about regular poop in those parting comments.)
The most remarkable aspect of this entire encounter was that Niccolo never once expressed a desire to vangare a Blonde. Maybe we had driven out of Sicily.