I tried to buy a pair of earrings today for Leah. I could have bought groceries for a month, for both of us, and they were not THAT nice. They were also not specifically or specially Italian; they could have come from any jewelry store in the US. So I demurred, but I still had no present for her. What to get, what to get?
On our way back from the first and failed mission to La Tavernetta, we passed a little wool shop — a knitting shop. A little lady saw my dad and me coming, and ran over to the door to lock us out. We knocked, but the lady vanished. After a moment, an elderly gentleman in a suit and tie came to the door, and let us in. As before, the woman was clearly uncomfortable about dealing with male strangers, so she sent her husband out to talk with us.
He did know what he was talking about, at least in Sicilian dialect. But it was tricky. He knew about Italian knitting needle sizes and Italian measurements. It was hard to ask for wool in the right sizes. Did I want to buy needles? No. Yarn? Yes. How many meters? No, I wanted to deal in skeins. Enough for a sweater? How many skeins to make dad’s sweater? Twelve? Yes, twelve he says. for a little woman, maybe seven. But the size of the needles matters too. But this wool, is it Sicilian? No, it’s French. Do you have Italian wool? Sicilian Wool?
No, there’s no Sicilian wool. Italian wool, yes, but then you’re limited to this shelf and this shelf. Do you have purple? Yes, we have this purple, but with red and gold mixed in. Phoenician wool! He laughs, and says a word that I think is Carthage, but might be, shall I wrap this up? We’re still arguing about skeins. I want six, he only has nine and doesn’t want to sell them in such a way that someone can’t make a big project with the leftovers. I finally decide that a scarf is probably enough, and he sells me three.
The woman who was in the shop has neither been seen nor heard for all this time. The wool itself costs all the euros I have. Welcome to Italy.