For Mother’s Day, our reader Silvana Saccomani sent us this cute story about epidurals and gps on the road for Montepulciano. Good reading!
I’ve never given childbirth. Never experienced the screaming pains of labour. And because of that absence I’ve spent much of my married life seeking out opportunities that cause similar levels of unbearable agony. Why else would I have refused the anesthetic for a colonoscopy just as they were preparing “to stick a 17,000 foot tube up my behind” to cite Dave Barry’s description of the procedure. And in failing to do so, faint during the process to the muffled whispers of nurses cursing my foolishly misguided heroics.
And why else would I refuse to take advantage of another modern invention that reduces the ordeal of navigating from one foreign place to another. The GPS is much like a sedative: it calms you down in the face of imminent distress. And since my husband isn’t a big fan of pain, which man is? And since Graham loves technology, which man doesn’t, our family has no fewer than three Navigatori.
Graham is also fully aware of my neuroses including my lucid nightmares on Italy’s A1. So as I was preparing to make my third trip solo to our pied-a-terre in Montepulciano, he suggests I pack− just one − of the three Navigatori − just in case − and just − to help get me out of Florence. Sensing impending disapproval, Graham adopts his legally-trained tone, the one he uses when he knows I’m about put up barriers the size of the Great Wall. His case goes like this: “You’ve already having done it twice before senza GPS (i.e. without epidural) and so you have nothing to prove this time.”
Pretty strong argument I’d say and so the Garmin secures a spot in my overstuffed camel-colored, creamy textured Italian (of course) leather Gabs carry-on.
Once on the ground in the Renaissance city and behind the wheel of the Volkswagen Polo, I am secretly looking forward to a stress-free drive out of the city, especially because it’s Friday afternoon rush hour on A1 with hordes of caffeine-injected Fiorentini racing to the serene rolling hills of the Tuscan countryside.
Feeling confident and relaxed, I wait for directions from the soothing sounding English voice about to project from the Navigatore.
Garmeena, her christened Italian name, starts out beautifully clear. “In one hundred meters take the ramp on the right to Via Car-da….?@*! ….”
Okay, the word Vee-ah, I got. But more critically, what’s the name of the street?
Garmeena’s English pronunciation of the Italian street is incomprehensive and I am labouring to make it out.
But too late: we are on to the next set of directions.
“At the next roundabout take the third exit to Strada ….?@*! …”
“Wait, Garmeena,” I plead, “I’m not there yet. I’m I am still back at the Via where I’m sure you said Kardashian. I think you said Kardashian. You couldn’t possibly have said Kardashian.”
Driving in the fast lane, I don’t dare peel my eyes off the road, but need to steal a glimpse of the map. The Garmin I packed is one of the prototypes with a 4-inch screen that’s impossible to decipher without 2.0 strength reading glasses.
Soon enough the Fiorentini are on my tail, flashing their high beams at me to get into the slow lane. But even in the slow lane they are going very fast.
Too dangerous to not keep my eyes on the road; too unbearable to endure Garmeena’s bastardization of the melodic Romance language, I yank her metaphorical umbilical cord out of the cigarette socket, realizing that here on the A1 I have another opportunity to prove I could have given childbirth.