Table talk set to πŸ”‡ 

April 21, 2023

   I was sitting quietly at a family dinner recently, when Carol’s older daughter April sat down next to me and said, “I know you don’t like to talk at these things, but I want to hear about your Lisbon plans.”

   And so it was on one of our final days in Rome, Carol and I had found ourselves invited to a lunch party of six at a restaurant (De Giggetto Hosteria) in the historic Jewish section of Rome, and orchestrated by Carol’s niece Ginger.

Traditional, unadventurous and tasty.

   April gets me; she’s always gotten me. Or maybe it’s just that she has always trusted her mother’s judgment in this instance (maybe more so than me, perhaps). But April has been my spear carrier throughout my transition into the Madigan clan. She knows my reticence to conversation has nothing to do with being anti-social. She has no idea what it is due to, though, simply because neither do I. All I’m aware of for sure is that, until the third glass of wine, anyway, I’d rather listen than talk. Or maybe it’s just daydream rather than listen.

   The feeling I had on the way to the restaurant was akin to the sensation of museum fatigue: where is the end, where is the exit? I knew that the Pantheon was nearby, and that became the exit ramp in case an early departure from lunch was called for. It’s kind of my motto: Always Be Leaving.

“All I’m aware of for sure is that, until the third glass of wine, anyway, I’d rather listen than talk. Or maybe it’s just daydream rather than listen.”

   It all turned out to be a classic case of overthinking. First off, two of our interlocutors spoke no English, so that cut the obligation to have something to say by a third. Then, when you add the time it took to translate what was being said into either English or Italian, that more or less cuts the need for any fresh table talk just about in half. That left most of the time available for just eating without any fear of letting the conversation lag or creating any awkward pauses. It was like being in a museum with most of the viewing rooms closed for maintenance. 

Carol even got jiggy with a waiter.

   Time was breezing by in a most pleasant way, the dominant activity being cutting, chewing and sharing bits of each other’s menu choice. I turned down an offer to try the sweetbreads. (I am decidedly not a foodie; if it didn’t provide strength or physical definition to the animal I was consuming, I don’t want any part of it.) Carol accepted, though, and said it tasted like chicken. I’ve heard that once before and I’m still not buying. My Veal Saltimbocca was very traditional and quite tender. Tip o’ the hat to the little guy’s parents.

   The dinner ended on pleasant notes all around. I must have acquitted myself well enough, as I was not subjected to any sort of forensics dealing with my table manners. And, as luck would have it, the Pantheon wasn’t taking on any more tours for the day. I took that as evidence that even the Travel God (Claude) affirmed my comportment. 

Beautiful and closed for the day!

   I’ve come to believe that of all the infirmities that might befall one in life, being struck mute would be my first preference. I imagine myself sitting down to a long table full of people, and no one saying anything throughout the entire meal out of respectful deference to my unfortunate condition. It would also mean I wouldn’t have to be worried about being offered anything like sweetbreads, either. 

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