Today was all about waiting for the lovely and talented EZ (you may remember her from London) to arrive from Paris in the afternoon. I slept in to a semi-reasonable hour, strolled by the kitties at Torre Argentina – said hello to the one that sleeps on the wall and hates me for some reason, and then set out on a search for a Thai foot massage. I’m not addicted. Who said I’m addicted? I can stop when I want to. It’s not like you’re perfect!
In what should have been taken as an ominous harbinger of quality, I went to a place whose sign I saw near the bus stop outside Torre Argentina. I mean, it was only 50 meters away, and my feet hurt already – who am I to criticize their marketing strategy?
The place seemed nice enough, well decorated in the faux-Thai motif that is par for these places [other than my beloved Saithan Spa in Paris] and at a wonderfully chilly air-conditioned temperature. After miming/telling the lady at the desk that I wanted a one hour reflexology massage, she pointed to a young lady who would escort me upstairs to my room. I just realized that typing “Thai”, “massage”, and “escort” in the same sentence will likely lead to this post coming up in a whole different realm of Google searches.
Once the girl got started, it was clear that this was one of the unfortunate places where the scenery is really all you were getting for the money. Sure, it didn’t feel unpleasant – much like pizza, sex, and ice cream, a foot massage is still good when it’s bad – but it was pretty clear she had no training, and was employed here simply by virtue of being (or looking) Thai. Oh well, that’s what I get for using a bus stop as my referral source.
After a post-massage gelato and espresso, I had to scoot quickly to get home and then out to meet EZ at the airport. The journey started on the bus near my place; Nat had told me earlier that only tourists (read : suckers) paid for the tickets and validated them on the bus per procedure, everyone else just got on and took their chances against the infinitesimal odds that an officer would check for your ticket and fine you. I hopped on and squeezed in amongst the seven dozen or so Romans that were surely going to the same place, the Roma Termini train station. I think we all had the same reaction at the six stops on the line the preceded Termini – “seriously? You’re stopping for this one asshole? Just go straight Termini and save us the ten minutes. Fuck this guy”
Alas, I arrived at Termini about six minutes before the express train to Fiumicino Airport was set to depart. The combination of Birkenstocks as footwear and a right knee that has been operated on five times made for a rather unique-looking running style as I weaved through the elder Romans moving at a glacial pace outside the ticket machines. After securing my pass from the machine that seemed to be communicating with a server somewhere using a 2400-baud modem, I started the second sprint to the train platform. Having less than a minute until departure, I made an almost comic lunge for the button on the door hoping it would open. It did, and then out of nowhere a girl in her early twenties tapped me and frantically pointed at the validating machine on the platform. She motioned for my ticket, and for reasons I will never understand, I gave it to her. She immediately ran away with it, which made me think this day was about to get a lot shittier. Thankfully, she just stamped it in the machine and ran back with it, although now I see why – this was a ploy for panhandling akin to the unsolicited windshield wash at a red light. I gave her a Euro, to which she seemed rather displeased, but I thought that wasn’t a bad wage for approximately five seconds of work I didn’t ask to be done.
Thankfully, EZ is afraid of trains, so we took a taxi back into Rome. After settling her in to the apartment, we went out for a walk to Piazza Navona, grabbed dinner at a small café that I went to last year with my Dad and Uncle [it’s called Papa’s Café, I highly recommend it], and then went for a final cocktail for the night at Campo de Fiori.
I’m pretty sure the English translation of Campo de Fiori is ‘criminal sexual conduct’. Although it’s a nice large plaza to get some food or a drink with a festive atmosphere, and it has an awesome history, it’s also home to the creepiest Italian dudes in the country (I hope) trying to get over on the awestruck American college girls who gravitate to this place for their partying and dancing desires. In one night, I overheard not one, not two, but three separate conversations between a dude speaking in broken English and a teenage American girl where he was asking her what her tattoos meant. I don’t know what was funnier, honestly – his clumsy line of questions, or her over-dramatic explanation as to how that dolphin on her hip symbolizes hope amidst a sea of despair.
One drink there was enough, so we headed home to crack open a couple beers in the comfort of our living room. We had a lot to do the next day, and some rest was in order.
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