Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Smoked Goat

While I tend to prefer complaining, I've decided to shake things up a bit and start with some *happy* news. After a summer of seemingly endless studying and feeling generally useless, I have finally passed all my exams and am now officially a third year medical student.

That's it. That's the happy news.

There were many a moment in the fray when I thought I wouldn't live to claw my way out of this twisted cistern that is my mind in medical school; but alas, I am finally off-piste and on-vacation. I spent the first night drinking tequila and then the next three full days lying on the couch eating cereal and (milk)chocolate (the horror) and watching reality television, which was more than sufficient for me to sense myself having arrived at the tail end of a wicked shame spiral. Now I've moved on to other things I enjoy like cooking, catching up with friends, and planning mine and Giulio's holiday. It will be our first proper trip abroad together and I'm curious to see how our relationship will fare without the possibility of commiseration, because frankly, that's what we enjoy and that's what we do best.

To celebrate Year 2 coming to a close, Giulio came home with a decent bottle of Champagne. It was a little premature/optimistic because at the time I still had two more exams to complete, although I suppose he figured whether by celebration or misfortune I would have been drinking anyway. Sharp man. There was only one problem, but it was a very big problem:

the friggin' champagne was in a headlock!

What was later explained to me was this: Giulio went to the Pam and checked out using the self-service aisle. He forgot/couldn't be bothered to ask the attendent to remove the neckbrace. When I demanded he propose a plan to get rid of it, he said he was going to "take it to the hospital and find a tool there to saw it off." I'm not joking. 
"Oh really?" I asked, as my left eyebrow soared to the sky. "And do you forsee this happening in the break room or in the OR?"
"I dunno".
"Do you have the receipt?"

So two weeks came and went and in the meanwhile I passed my exams. Giulio's attitude was still laissez-faire and my champagne was still in full nelson, so I decided it was time take control over the situation and break free from the shackles of this pharmacological-free antabuse myself. I had no tools except for my eyelash curler and a broken milk frother, so I knew I would have to use my wits and not my manual skills/brawn to get through this one. And that's when I planned a mass manipulation at the Pam:

I would go in there and ASK them to take it off.

As I was concerned, it (manipulation) was the only realistic possibility considering I had no proof of purchase. The first thing I considered was my outfit. Normally when I go to the Pam I look akin to the bums that are the very reason behind these anti-theft devices; so I knew I had to change my look. I put on everything expensive I owned (as if to imply I didn't need to steal a bottle of champagne)- black silk pants, a Prada shirt (covered in lint but still the best I had), and my Movado watch. Then I brushed my hair and put on a little lippy. I was looking RICH and probably famous. 

I picked up a couple of other items including goat cheese and fabric softener. It was all part of my plan (what criminal eats goat cheese and prioritizes their clothes being snuggly soft?). I was all set and ready to execute my plan. I purposefully picked the checkout lane immediately next to the self-service lane so that I could point to it easily, using it as a jury-style visual aide during my defense. Everything had to be seamless. As I was standing in line, I also made a point to make eye contact with the security officer and then offer him a tasteful smile- something that goes a long way in a city with vestigial levator labii muscles.  I  needed reinforcement from every angle, so every angle was getting free smiles today. 

As I stood there waiting, I rehearsed over and over again exactly what I would say. I didn't want my Italian to be perfectly spoken because I figured they might give me a break for being foreign and/or dumb (I recalled Giulio telling me about a time in San Diego when he purposefully drove through a red light in Pacific Beach during the middle of the night, got pulled over by a cop, then calculatedly spoke with a thick accent and poor english while explaining that they "didn't have traffic lights in iiitaly". The cop let him go). I would do something similar. I would tell them exactly what happened, ensuring a careful balance of confidence and desperation: "il mio fidanzato ha comprato questa bottiglia là, e,  uh, dimenticato questo parte." - ["my boyfriend had bought this bottle there (while pointing at self-service checkout), and, uh, had forgotten this (pointing at security device)]. It was genius.

Then it was my turn. The clerk scanned my items and gave me my total, and that's when I flawlessly recited my line: "il mio fidanzato ha comprato questa bottiglia là, e, uh, dimenticato questo parte." I even placed the "uh" in the premeditated place which I was admittedly a little worried about scrambling up.

The woman looked at me and said "Ma, tu non hai il scontrino?" ["but, you don't have the receipt?"] to which I nonchalantly replied: "no", and blinked once.

So she called over her colleague-friend who was the self-service checkout attendant wearing far too short of shorts. My clerk explained the situation to her, prompting Signora Short-shorts to look over at me and say (with her bubblegum smacking head cocked to the right): "Ma, tu non hai il scontrino?". and once again I nonchalantly replied: "No". Then together they summoned the check-out clerk from the next lane over, who rotated around in her swivel chair in a huff,  was quickly debriefed on the situation, and then looked up at me and said in her raspy voice: "MA TU NON HAI IL SCONTRINO??" (she wasn't actually mad, just speaking very loudly) to which I again responded: "No". Then she stood up, grabbed the bottle from me, wrapped her fat hands around it, looked at me/my Movado, then back at her cronies and said "Ma, questa é FREDDO" ["but, this is COLD"], really emphasizing the "freddo" part (at which point I interjected a very eager "Siii!")  

That's when the yellow-shirted security guard marched over, obviously pleased to finally exert some authority in the supermarket. Now I had three women in white smocks and a splash of yellow surrounding me, and things were beginning to feel dicey. I was certain in this moment that my plan had backfired and that I was on the brink of being arrested or at very least, catalyzing another episode of Pamania. But then the security guard, the same one I had planted a smile seed with earlier, did something surprising. He walked behind the teller booth, grabbed the bottle from the clerk's fat hands, forcefully jammed the bottle neck into the noose remover, handed me the freshly liberated bottle, and said "Vai!" before anyone could protest. And I scurried off.

When Giulio came home that evening I could hardly wait to share the good news.
"Honey! Look in the fridge!"
(Giulio opens fridge, looks around) "O! You got the thingy off the wine. How'd you do it? Just ask them to take it off?"
"Well, yes."
"But it was a mass manipulation wasn't it? I am so proud of you."

And together we Let Freedom Ring.