The Italian Journal: A Prologue

My goal food-wise for this trip was to eat like the locals. Meet zaeti, a breakfast cookie.

by Karin Duncker • More.com Member { View Profile }

I’m a highly organized person. Ask anyone who knows me. Highly organized. Ditzy or flighty just wouldn’t be words used to describe me. I mean, someone who’s made it to 50 (and a little), taking pretty good care of herself thru adulthood thus far couldn’t be ditzy or flighty and survive, right? Surely I would have succumbed to some disastrous fate by now, stepped off the wrong curb at the wrong time and SPLAT! Yet as you can see, I haven’t. And naturally a highly organized mature adult who was traveling to Italy would have it completely together, every detail in place, every step mapped, every situation anticipated. I mean, I’m the type of person who checks her flights, the trains to her flights, her wallet, her ID, her quart-sized ziploc baggie filled with not a drop more than 3 oz. of sundry liquids an almost obsessive number of times between the apartment and the airplane gate. Which is why it is so remarkable to me that when it came time for this savvy, cosmopolitan and somewhat well-traveled gal to go on her fabulous 50th birthday excursion a la Italia, I suddenly turned into Ellie Mae marveling at the cement pond in the backyard.

It started at the airport check in. My lovely traveling companion texted me that based upon our class of tickets, I didn’t have to wait in line with the “real folk.” Yippee thought cosmo-gal. So I got on the wrong line. When I realized my mistake, I smugly sauntered (well, slinked with the proper amount of affluent guilt) to the fancy-schmancy check-in counter. Yes, thought I, this feels right. Mary the desk agent smiled, greeted me with the greeting afforded the “have's,” and asked me where I was going. “Rome,” I chirped, adjusting my jaunty travel hat and extending my passport with freshly manicured hand. “Hmmmm. I don’t see your name.” The jaunty hat slipped a bit. “Perhaps you are stopping someplace first?” she asked. “Frankfurt,” I giggled, with an "oh silly me, I am such a jet setter I get all the fabulous locations mixed up” smile. “Nope,” uttered Mary, who was frankly getting a little perturbed at the ditzy blond in the stupid hat. Perhaps I should look at my actual reservation in my calendar thought I (finally the old organized gal had returned). “Ah, Munich!” 

Mary finally smiled with a definite “you won this upgrade on a game show didn’t you” look on her face. Then I told her, ”You see, this whole trip was a gift from a best friend, for my 50th. Warming passed over the glacier on Mary’s face, and we gal-talked (she was just 50 too) while she printed various passes, sticky labels with codes and I gush over how lucky I was. Bags checked and boarding pass in hand, I moved on through security without ditz-incident and up to the Red Carpet Lounge to rendezvous with my travel mate.

As I got into the lounge and spied my pal, the shrieking and jumping up and down display surely made the rest of the “have's” think I won the trip guessing the price of a case of rice-a-roni for Drew Carey. We had about 90 minutes to kill before our flight, so once settled back into jet-set mode I looked around for some refreshments. A glass of wine? Naturally, an Italian vintage seemed apt. Then I spied them…bowls of them...MILANO COOKIES!  Back was Ellie Mae as I giddily grabbed a handful like a kid on Halloween, then gushed to my friend, “Look, Milanos and Walker shortbread snack packs for FREE! Ah, well, at least the jaunty hat was classy.

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