How I Lost My Virginity
It was a Sunday afternoon in early winter. A Sunday afternoon like any other. We’d been to the Pinacoteca and had seen Carraccis galore, not to mention voluptuous canvases by Raffaelo, Giotto, all the masters…. Like Paolo and Francesca, that day we would see no more art.
And, let’s face it, we were … hungry.
For 478 days I had remained pure. Much longer than 478 days, really, because that’s only counting from when I arrived in Italy … the day I officially made my solemn vow….
What can I say in my defense? It was Sunday afternoon. Everything was closed. We could have waited … I could have resisted … but it was cold and foggy out, and I was overstimulated, rinascimentally speaking….
And so we did it. Right there in Piazza Maggiore …we went into McDonald’s and ordered lunch. At the last moment, I tried to hold back. In a futile attempt to bargain with destiny, to maintain some shred of dignity, I said no to the hamburger and I asked for the McChicken. But, God help me, I ate the fries … the Biggie Fries. And I ate them with ketchup. They were good, limortaccitua. When it was over, I caught myself licking my fingers.
I know: I swore never to set foot in a McDonald’s on Italian soil. I know: I’ve said that McDonald’s is evil, that McDonald’s is a canker on Europe (except in England, where they don’t have anything better to eat); I’ve said that the existence of the golden arches in Piazza San Marco in Venice is an occasion of sin, the kind of thing that UNESCO should invent another list for: not a registry of World Heritage Sights, but a registry of World Heritage Blights.
I blame Ikea. I blame Dolce Metà for making me go there, for telling me it was the only place to buy a mattress we could afford. I blame him for making me covet cabinetry. From Ikea, the Temple of Depravity itself, McDonald’s was a short distance to fall.
Papa Ratzinger, pray for me. San Silvio d’Arcore, pray for me. Group of Eight, pray for me.
Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea BigMaxima culpa.