LUNCH WITH UNCLE ALDO
In 1986, we were on our honeymoon traveling through Europe and decided to stop and visit Lynn’s Uncle Aldo on our way through Naples. Uncle Aldo was a curious guy. He worked for the Italian border patrol when there were still borders in Europe and when he “retired,” he managed to get himself a very spacious apartment in what was once formerly a convent in the center of Naples. There was still a courtyard in the middle of the convent but it was surrounded by barbed wire which gave the apartment the somewhat unwelcome feeling of being in prison. The U.S. Navy (Italian Shore Patrol) at one point was stationed in a wing of the convent along with an American BX, but the space had since been occupied by the Italian police. (The former BX site probably explained the presence of the American size fridge he had in his kitchen as well as a freezer full of American beef patties.)
Lynn hadn’t seen his Uncle Aldo in quite a few years (Aldo having visiting Lynn and his family stateside), and Uncle Aldo became very emotional when he saw us. Maybe he was just being Italian; maybe he was thinking of lunch.
Celebrating our wedding, he brought out a bottle of Moet & Chandon. We drank it. Then we moved on to fresh mozzarella, different types of grilled peppers, chewy fresh bread and pieces of fish and octopus in a red sauce over spaghetti. We were also drinking. First white wine, then red wine. I lost count of the number of bottles we drank. Uncle Aldo kept wanting to know if I was still hungry.
“Should I make you an American hamburger?” he asked.
I tried not to be insulted. Lynn of course, just kept eating. Then Uncle Aldo brought out dessert – beautiful Italian pastries (putting to shame what you get in any “Little Italy” café in the States) filled with cream and sugar, chocolate and nuts. He also brought out some dried fruit to nibble on. We were getting very drunk and in desperate need of a nap. That’s when Uncle Aldo decided we would do a panoramic drive of Naples stopping for pizza along the way.
Pizza after a three hour multi-course lunch? But first, Uncle Aldo was pushing a tumbler-size glass filled with whiskey towards Lynn as a “digestive.” I knew better. Lynn didn’t. One thing hasn’t changed even after all these years; when Lynn mixes alcohol, he gets a wicked headache. Shortly thereafter, Lynn found himself sitting in the front seat of an Alfa Romeo (with me in the back) and Uncle Aldo driving seriously fast on an increasingly small and windy road. We finally got to the top of a hill, saw a hazy rendition of the famous Naples coastline and got back in the car in search of pizza.
Lynn, at this point had a splitting headache. He wanted to lie down. Uncle Aldo wanted to go for pizza. We went for pizza. Let’s just say, to save him from looking like, um, a “LOSER” in the eyes of his Uncle, not only did I have to eat my pizza, but his, too.