The Spade and the Speedosby Bridget Stuart
I just had a lovely chat with my Italian cousin--we'll call him Maurizio. Of course, when you hear that he is my cousin, you would expect him to be related to me. And he is, sort of, but in a very distant way, involving many "removeds" and arcane familial branches. People in Italy tend to keep track of these things more than we do.
But back to our chat. Maurizio and I were talking about family, discussing his wife and kids and a completely fabricated but spectacular story which Maurizio had heard, about how my brother supposedly "came out" at my other brother's wedding and caused a storm of controversy which included fainting in-laws.
I scotched the rumor, with no small regret (how delicious!), but I then reminded Maurizio, "Of course, nothing tops the Spade and the Speedos story. And that one was true."
"Oh my god," he drawled. "That will never die, will it?"
Ah. In this story, there really are Speedos. And a spade.
One summer, Maurizio came to visit my house for the first time, and stayed for a month learning things like how to speak colloquial English and how to be disrespectful of your mother and how you really can't get around LA unless you have a car, and if you have no car you must abjectly beg to be taken anywhere in a busy household where no one shows the proper respect for your guest-hood.
I happened to be home that summer, because I'd picked up a nasty tropical disease in Guatemala and couldn't do much but sit around the bedroom or the swimming pool. Since I couldn't go anywhere and neither could Maurizio, we ended up having lots of nice long talks, bedside and poolside. Innocent as we were in our cousinly connection, neither of us realized we were being watched by suspicious, critical eyes. They belonged to my much younger sister. Let's call her...Cilla.
Cilla detested this cousinly chumminess with the passion only a twelve-year-old can muster. She didn't trust Maurizio's smooth Italian good looks and charm, and she certainly didn't trust Maurizio's smooth Italian bathing suit. It was a Speedo type deal, what we used to call 'tourist tighties'--basically, a thong.
The sunny days sped happily by, until one morning when Maurizio wanted to join me in the swimming pool...and could not find his Speedos. We searched everywhere. In the laundry, under the beds, in suitcases and pillowcases. Nothing.
Finally, he was forced to borrow big baggy board shorts from one of my brothers. My sister made a sinister (in retrospect) comment about how he looked 'decent' now. Little did any of us know what this signified.
About a week later, my brother came in from the garden, where he'd been digging major earth works (in a fascinating twist, he is now a landscape architect), brandishing a pitiful soil-encrusted blue and green floppy object.
Cilla confessed all. In order to save me from the seductive power of Maurizio's indecently displayed manly charms, she had stolen the Speedos, dug a hole in the back garden, and buried them.
Well. This seemed so eye-poppingly embarrassing, verging on the deranged, that as a family, our course of action was clear: we shoved the Speedos deep in the outdoor garbage can, and nobody ever mentioned it again--certainly not to Maurizio.
Except somebody did. And it was not me. But I'm not surprised, are you? I mean, it was too damned good to keep quiet. Could you keep that quiet??? Somebody blabbed, and somehow Maurizio found out. Years later.
So why am I airing the family's secret dirty laundry (hey-literally!) on a public website? Because Cilla is getting married, and in our recent conversation, Maurizio threatened to at last get his revenge. He said he was going to blackmail Cilla into paying him large sums of money, or he would reveal all about the Spade and the Speedos to Cilla's fiance.
Hey, Cilla. Don't get mad. You should be thanking me. By outing you here, I just saved you a Fiat-ful of Euros.