Florence, Italy, 1986

“David” by Michelangelo

I had been wanting a leather bomber jacket for awhile, and heard Florence was a great place for leather goods, so my quest, when I got there, was to see “David,” the Uffizi, and find a jacket I liked, with some random wandering the streets in between. We were staying just outside the city and when we drove in on our first morning, I grabbed the first parking space I saw. Immediately, we saw a leather goods shop right next to our parking space. They had a jacket style that seemed exactly what I was looking for, but only one in my size. It was the first place we shopped and I was reluctant to commit without looking around some more, so we spent the rest of the day shopping, but never found anything even close. First thing the next morning we went straight to the shop, but no parking was nearby, so I dropped Barbara off and drove on until I found a space. A few minutes later, as I entered the shop, Barbara’s face and the shake of her head told me right away that it was gone. The saleswoman, in halting English, told me how sorry she was, but that a customer had come in after us the day before and bought it. Knowing I would not be happy with anything else at that point, we concentrated on the rest of our casual itinerary. I don’t know if the museum layout is the same today, but when we went into the Accademia Gallery, from the lobby, we stepped into a dark hallway and at the other end he stood there, spectacular, glowing in a pool of light. Slowly, as our eyes adjusted to the low light in the hallway, we could see five of Michelangelo’s Slave sculptures, raw and muscular and more powerful in some ways than the polished, finished “David” that he had created earlier in his life. The Uffizi, the food, the wine, walking the streets–it was all so good that my disappointment over the jacket gradually receded. Three months later, when I opened my Christmas present from Barbara, it was the jacket. In the few minutes it had taken me to park the car she had bought it, arranged shipping, and coached the clerk, without benefit of any Italian language, on how disappointed to act. Even thirty six years later, I have never been able to surprise her so well.

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