Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Beginning of Bignosco

She was purple, red, no, burgandy is the best word for it, and her fan would overheat constantly, especially in the hot summer weather. She didn't have a name, but that's because I hadn't come along. Yet. The seats were incredibly comfortable, and unlike leather they wicked away all sweat which was good because the A/C didn't work. But she had a good CD player, and truly that's all I cared about, that and the fact that she could take me places.
The train conductor told me to lock my compartment door that night, and not to open it to anyone but him as he came around the next morning, probably because I was by myself and the only person in that carriage. I spent the entire evening looking out the window watching the brown countryside undulate past and practicing the few Italian words I had learned in my head over and over again ("caaaaldoo", "freeedooo", "graaaziaaa", "ciaoooo", "baaacio"). I made up my bed early and listened to my ipod to fall asleep, a set playlist of Enya, Eels, and Classical piano. Oh, and the song from Mary Poppins, the "Stay Awake" one.
The next morning I was awake-ish when the conductor came by with coffee and an Italian newspaper, that I pretended to be able to read when in fact I just looked at the pictures and tried to determine if anything significant had happened lately.
It took us till about mid-day to reach Alexandria, and when I got off the train I cursed again at how much easier everything would be if we had cell-phones ("telephonini", accompanied by a little gesture that indicated a ringing cell-phone). I picked up my dirty pack, and walked out into the broiling heat of July, and looked all around for him. I didn't remember what the car looked like, and I knew I probably looked a bit different too; from the incredibly pale, bundled in sweaters with dark gold-hair girl I had transformed into dark, dark brown with white sun-bleached hair and a short floral dress...the result of Sicily.
Then, I spotted him- with his black boots, black shirt (black?! In this heat?!) and long curly "Jesus" hair. I ran over to him and started laughing, almost crying, as I was so happy to see someone I knew. He seemed quiet at first, almost in a bad mood, which I soon learned was the result of his previous travel partner being a wimp and flying home early. He was also strangely anxious to leave Italy, but I think it was because he was just ready for a new place. But we got in the car, windows rolled all the way down (since the A/C didn't work, of course) and with the Velvet Underground blasting we drove through the mountains to Switzerland, which was slightly cooler and soon he was laughing and singing along with me. We "camped" that afternoon at a lake (I've forgotten the name...maybe Paradise Lake? Rainbow Lake?), and I used my high-school French to buy food. We then spent the rest of the muggish day-light time splashing and swimming in the lake, and trying (very unsuccessfully) to catch large fish with our bare hands. Evening came and we burnt new CD's for the car on his laptop (Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, Sigur Ros) and talked about what had happened since we had last seen each other in Schladming.
That night I had wanted to try sleeping in the car, to see what it was going to be like, and he wanted to use his tent, but around midnight there was a huge thunderstorm and torrential rain so we both ended up in the car, him shivering and wet and me smugly dry. "Haha" I mumbled sleepily as he tried to not get absolutely everything as wet as he was.
The next morning was clear and cooler than before, thankfully. With fat tired eyes we took advantage of the lake to wash ourselves, and some clothes, unsure of when the next opportunity would come along. Before we got going though, I pulled out the road map and said
"We have to name the car."
"What? Why on earth would we name the car?"
"Becaaaaause she is going to be an important part of this trip, and I don't want to keep on referring to her as "it", or "the car"." I unfolded the map on the hood, and then said:
"Ok, now close your eyes and point to a random spot."
He laughed for a long time, then closed his eyes and pointed.
"No way," he objected when he opened his eyes, "I can't even pronounce that. Waaaay too many vowels."
So he tried again. Tiefencastel.
"Is that like an actual town, or a sight?" I wondered. "We could call her "Tief", for short..."
"I don't like it."
"You are being so picky. It's not like your naming your first-born child here-"
"Yeah, but remember: "She is going to be an important part of this trip"," he repeated back to me. "I want a name that I think feels right."
I rolled my eyes.
He tried again. Bignosco.
"Eww. Veto," I said, "It sounds like "Big Nasty"..."
He began to grin.
"Absolutely not," I said, as giggles began to start bubbling up, "We can't name the car Big Nasty...so inappropriate for a car..."
And he smiled hugely and we both burst out laughing.
And that's how the car was named Bignosco.


  1. Somehow I don't think I've ever heard of Eels...what kind of stuff do they do? I'm trying to get the tone of your ride down here, based on the music you were listening to.

    Ha! I used to the exact same thing with Korean newspapers. Look at the pictures, mutter something to myself, nod intelligently, and impress all the elderly Koreans sitting nearby.

    You make Sicily sound like some kind of telephone booth: "from the incredibly pale, bundled in sweaters with dark gold-hair girl I had transformed into dark, dark brown with white sun-bleached hair and a short floral dress..." I love it. I can just see the transformation.

    I would name my first-born child "Bignosco." And my next car is definitely going to be "Big Nasty."

    I could say "good post" or "splendid writing as always, Jane dear" but I would sound like a broken record. I've said it so many times before, with good cause.

  2. Eels are a British rock band, but this one song they do is called I Need Some Sleep, and it's a perfect lullaby.
    Haha, I love that I'm not the only one who does that with foreign newspapers. It's like a secret masquerade we perform, and hope that no one can see through it. Of course they probably can, but at least we try.
    Oh the poor kid would probably get slaughtered in kindergarten. I still like Tiefencastel way more ;)

    And you don't have to always compliment my stuff. It's much nicer just dialoguing with you. Like instead of a teacher grading my work you are a real person, haha!

  3. I might have to look that up. I'm a classic rock man but I'm usually for something quiet and peaceful on occasion.

    Tiefencastel? That would be the name of my next goldfish.

    Well, hey, you deserve it. Trust me, if you wrote something flat or blasé or forgettable, I'd say severely, "Not up to your usual standard, Jane," or "I'm surprised at you, Jane Jones. Has your Muse gone on vacation?"

    No, I'm just kidding. I'd probably say something like "You do such a marvelous job of putting me to sleep, Jane," or "Your writing has such an immaculate soporific quality to it, Ms. Jones."

    I'm kidding! Really! I'd say, "Whew, I'm running out of compliments here. Thanks for giving me a much-needed break. That was a close one."

    The point is, you haven't written a stinker yet. And I don't say that lightly. I'm hard to please where it comes to prose. There's some stuff on those bookshelves in Borders that makes me want to puke. Nothing you've written has made me want to puke. So far. Heh heh.