I Lost It In Rome

Aug 27


Ah, Rome, the Eternal City. Forget about San Francisco: you can leave your heart here faster than you can say, “Ciao, Baby!”

I, however, held on to my heart, but left my underwear. Let me explain!

I was in Rome with my friend, Diana, shopping for tennis outfits at this really nice store near the Trevi Fountain. They had good prices (back in the day when a dollar wasn’t worth 35 cents), and we had a ball (a-hem) trying everything the cute Italian clerk handed us through the curtains of the teeny little fitting room. He did seem to be lingering a little too long, and leaning a little too far in, but we’ll get to that later. We each bought a few outfits, some of which I still use till this day, and so, mission accomplished, we hurried off in search of gelato.

Later that day, around cocktail hour, we were gathered together with Diana’s husband at the piano bar of the very chic Hotel Hassler. I know, I know, that’s a German name, but trust me, it’s a very fancy Italian hotel at the top of the Spanish Steps.

So anyway, there we were, the three of us, working on drinks of Campari or Scotch or whatever, on my last evening in Rome—they were staying a few more days. As the piano quietly tinkled in the background, and elegant Italians (elegant Italians are really, really elegant) talked politely over cocktails and delicious little nibbly things, I asked my friends if they thought they’d be going back to the Trevi.

If so, I wondered, could they stop in that sweet little store and see if anyone had found my underwear?

After the explosion of “Wots?” that issued forth simultaneously from the two of them, there seemed, at least to me, to be total silence in the room. Even the piano player stopped playing. Remember that commercial, “When E.F. Hutton speaks . . .” and everyone leans in to listen? That’s what happened, and now you know the truth, that in Italy at least, sex sells even better than financial advice.

Well, maybe it was the Compari, or that When In Rome Feeling, or maybe it was just me, accustomed, practically from birth, to losing things of all nations, but I didn’t think it was that big a deal.

In the shop, I had been wearing my favorite cream-colored camisole and tap pants set – silk, lace, the whole nine yards (actually, very little in the way of yardage, but very effective in the lacy lingerie department.). God knows who I thought I would meet later in that great city that fine day. Or night. Or maybe I just felt like wearing pretty lingerie. Hey, it was Rome. I was free and over. . . twenty-one. Anyway, I was wearing a bra and pantyhose underneath the sensuous silk set, so when I got dressed (remember, it was very cramped quarters – and I was tired from all that shopping!), I guess I forgot to put on the cami and pants. It could happen to anyone, right? Well, maybe not. . .

The next day, I took off for New York, and my friends took off for the Little Shop of Panties, down by the Trevi, where the very good-looking young man who had been helping us (and perhaps himself) claimed that no, no signori, of course he had not found anything like the intimate articles being described to him by this crazy American couple.

threecoinsblueposterMy friends left the shop empty handed, and went to the fountain to throw in a few coins. You’re supposed to do that, you probably know, to insure that you’ll return to Rome. (Rent the film Three Coins In The Fountain, which was PBS just the other nights, for a schmaltzy view of Roma in the 50’s if you don’t believe me).

But you have to wonder, if coins brings you back to Rome, what happens if you leave your underwear there? Will the Italian branch of Victoria’s Secret send you a catalog and ask you to pick up your purchases at the Piazza Navonna? Will you be extradited from the US and hauled back to the Eternal City on charges of lewd and indecent behavior? Or will you return and have a hot affair with the cute clerk? He’s the perfect age by now.

Whatever. But that young man knew more than what he was telling. Much more. It is my firm belief (it’s so nice to have something firm these days)—and very pleasant fantasy—that somewhere in Rome, someone, perhaps on this very day, is riding around on a Vespa wearing my underwear. In my imagination, it’s a woman, but who knows. And I wouldn’t dream of being judgmental . . .

Oh! You’re Supposed To Toss Coins, the original title, first appeared here in March, 2009.

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