Sunday, March 21, 2010

Olive Oil

So then there was the time I was sitting on the beach in Sicily, and it was after dinner and I was just chilling on the rocks by myself, and I watched this tall, 30-ish year-old man approach me from all the way down at the other end of the beach, swinging a plastic grocery bag in his hand. He came up to me, and handed me the bag, and as I looked inside it he said:
Claudia said you really liked the oil...
(and inside the bag was an old ketchup bottle filled with a thick clear golden-green liquid)
And startled I replied:
Oh, uh, yes, I do, it is amazing and flavourful and wonderful, and we don't have anything like it in Canada. Thank you so much.
He grinned down at me, said:
Well, I make it myself, so... (he shrugged modestly)
Can I pay you for it? I asked, awkwardly, not sure how this was done.
You are the girl who is travelling alone, no? he said. I thought for a second, and came to the conclusion that yes, yes I was travelling alone these days, more by default than choice but whatever. I nodded, uh huh.
Spontaneously he grabbed my hand and kissed it.
It is a gift. You are very brave, he said as I sat there in shock. I still wasn't used to the European way of touching other people, of the custom of cheek-kissing to greet even me, newly initiated to the friends of Claudia and Franco, and the way of kisses as currency.

I wish you luck and blessing in your travels, he said.
Uh, thank you. I stuttered. What else could I say?
He grinned one last time, dropped my hand and started walking back the way he had come.
Thank you! I yelled again at his back, and without turning around he waved good-bye.


  1. Ahhhhhh...satisfying read. If I haven't said this before, you are extraordinarily well-versed in the art of description. This is vivid: I can hear the ocean, feel the sun, smell the olive oil, understand the Italian accent.

    "Using kisses as currency"...that's a good way to put it, too.

  2. Thanks Postman. I appreciate it. But it can't compare with your goose-bump raising description of those pillars in the desert... ha, someday!