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      The three things Americans visiting Italy worry about most

are (1) being cheated, (2) being made to eat something

      they don't like, and (3) being cheated in the course

of being made to eat something they don't like.

      To these people, I say: Americans, do not worry.

Italians will not cheat you. Dishonesty requires calculation,

      and Italians are no fonder of calculation than we are.

As for the food, remember that you are in a restaurant,

      for Christ's sake, and therefore it is highly unlikely

      that your handsome, attentive waiter will bring you

a bunch of boiled fish heads, much less a bowl of hairspray soup

      or a slice of tobacco pie topped with booger ice cream.

Indeed, you have already been both cheated and made to eat

      bad food in your so-called Italian restaurant in Dearborn

or Terre Haute where the specialty is limp manicotti

      stuffed with cat food and welded to an oversized ashtray

with industrial-strength tomato sauce; therefore be not

      like the scholar in The Charterhouse of Parma

      who never pays for the smellest trifle without looking up

its price in Mrs. Starke's Travels, where it states how much

      an Englishman should pay for a turkey, an apple,

a glass of milk, and so on, but eat, drink, and spend freely,

      for tomorrow you will again be in Grand Rapids or Fort Wayne.

As Cosimo strolled his corridor, he could glance out from time to time

      to see if three or four of the abovementioned Pazzi or Albizi

were gathering to discuss something that almost certainly

      would not have been a surprise birthday party for him.

from Americans in Italy

David Kirby

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