Once he’s finished packing, Rick asks the desk clerk to send up a scale so we can weigh our luggage. When it arrives I eye it with a mixture of fascination and dread. I try to ignore it as it squats there on the floor like an ugly metal toad, but it’s a ticking time bomb. It draws me, implacably, like a death wish. When Rick goes down to the lobby for something, I strip off my clothes and step on it quickly, before I have time to reconsider.
It’s in kilos, but unfortunately, for anyone possessing a modicum of math skills (the ability to multiply by 2.2, in other words), the ugly truth soon becomes painfully unavoidable. I step off it in shock, then step back on, just in case it made a mistake the first time, but the obscene number stubbornly refuses to change. I’m not trying to be coy, but let’s just say that if Elizabeth Gilbert, of Eat, Pray, Love fame, gained 35 pounds in her four months in Italy, I’m right on track for my three weeks. I put my clothes back on and lie down on the bed, dazed. How could this have happened? I think back over the last three weeks.
Could it possibly have been the three or four scoops of to-die-for gelato a day? Or the yummy fresh focaccia bread studded with bell peppers or black olives (liberally doused with olive oil)? Or maybe the pizza at least once a day, sometimes thin-crust, when I was feeling virtuous, but more often than not, on focaccia bread (liberally doused with olive oil)? Or possibly the sandwich-type pizzas, known as calzone in our country, with two—count ‘em—crusts, and the vegetables, cheese, mushrooms, salami, etc. nestled invitingly inside? Or could it have been the pasta? Was it discovering, in every possible locale, how the tortoni, the tortellini, the cannelloni, the tagliatelle, the spaghetti, the fettuccine, the linguine, etc. are always al dente (and liberally doused with olive oil)? Oh, and let’s not forget the milky, sweet mozzarella cheese that melts in your mouth. . . oops! I guess I also forgot the large rum and coke every afternoon and the liter of wine every night. But even so. . .
Most of my clothes have elastic waists, so I can still squeeze myself into them. That’s a good thing—otherwise I would have to board the plane naked like some chubby overage female putto (are there female putti?). I can’t help feeling frustrated, though, as I soap my elephantine thighs in the shower. Why, damn it all, are the Italian women so slim and beautiful? At first I thought it was all the walking they do. But we’ve walked plenty on this trip, and it didn’t help me (or Liz Gilbert!). Maybe I have the wrong genes. I guess I’m not cut out to be an Italian.
There is the fact that my body did warn me. I have to admit I wasn’t entirely surprised when I stepped on that scale. Every day I’ve felt that I was forcing my metabolism by eating when I wasn’t hungry. It’s just that the food’s so good I couldn’t resist! I comment to Rick that I’ve been feeling like a force-fed goose. He replies that he hasn’t noticed anyone holding a gun to my head. (Okay, he’s definitely in the doghouse now!)
I figure that by the time I get off the plane in Seattle, my liver will be ripe and ready to be surgically excised and processed into a delicious foie gras à la Annie. At least that will take off a few pounds!