When I say Venice, what is the first image that comes to your mind? If your like most people I ask, your response is most likely, "the gondola." I'm fascinated with them and the gondoliers that drive them. I have snapped hundreds of photos of gondolas and even more of the gondoliers navigating their way through the canals of Venice. But, I've been to Venice at least seven times and have yet to take a ride in one!
Before my first visit to Venice, I heard a story that gondola rides should be shared only with your anima gemella (soul mate). During the ride, you kiss each other as you pass under each bridge. I resolved never to take a gondola ride until I was here with my anima gemella. I am overly romantic as it is. Being in Venice renders me absolutely hopeless.
Venice has cast a spell on me. I blame it on the water. It plays tricks on you. The reflections from the sky and scenery above change in the water and emit something that distorts your vision and your mind. I have forgotten that I'm on a food lover's odyssey, and instead find myself on a totally different odyssey, searching for "Mr Right." If he happens to be a talk dark handsome Italian, even better. I've become sappier than Marisa Tomei in "Only You." I have a crush on every man I know in this city, even my gay roommate.
I stand on bridges and gaze at the gondolas below, imagining myself and my grande amore riding in one of these ornately gilded vessels, our arms intertwined, passionately kissing under each of Venice's 416 bridge, and a song playing in the background. Like the lagoon in the early morning, my mind is in a fog.
The other day in class, I told them about my encounter with a gondolier a few years ago. I was madly snapping pictures of this gondolier, and he approached me and offered me a "discount" on a gondola ride. I quickly refused. He asked me why, and I explained that I was waiting to take my first gondola ride with my "anima gemella." (I even used the Italian word.) I'm sure he found my idealism and romanticism amusing, but he pressed on and offered to let me ride for free. I still said, "non grazie."
I don't know if he wanted to prove to himself or to me that even a true romantic will sell her dreams away for a good price (or to a handsome gondolier). He continued on, offering even to kiss me under each bridge. Now he was ok looking; maybe if he looked more like the gondolier above, I might have wavered in my resolve. I declined again.
Then, he offered to let me drive the gondola!! I actually paused for a minute, but eventually said no. I walked about 100 yards from the spot of our negotiation, and rethought my decision, with a tiny bit of regret. After turning down an offer like that (to be able to drive the gondola), I have to wait until I find "him" to take this magical gondola ride, right?
Alas, I'm no longer sure. After I told this story to the class, the men in the class thought I had made the wrong decision and should have taken the ride. The women in the class, thought I had made the right decision and should continue to wait. What do you think?