Shortly after Lisa and I met, we traveled to Barcelona, across the French coast and Riviera, to Italy and then Rome. It was eventful. Before we left Lisa’s grandfather died. I lost my wallet in Barcelona. I left it in a restaurant on a table. American Express “Don’t Leave Home Without It” doesn’t have offices to replace the card. So we had to wait until Rome, the end of the trip, to get a new card. And!! I proposed marriage at the Trevi fountain (Three Coins in the Fountain). It seemed pretty romantic. We almost broke up because, marriage yes, but after I finished residency, that would be in about three years… too long. I just wanted the proposal to happen in the most romantic place I could think of. We’re still married…
We arrived in Rome, down to the last traveler’s check, late at night and booked a room in the Hotel “…” no names please. They still might be looking for us. We took a room “sans bathroom,” cheaper. In the morning Lisa didn’t bother to go down the hall to wash up or shower. I was sitting on the bed. Yes, I remember exactly where I was. She was leaning on the sink.
And… crack!… followed by a torrent of water shooting into the room. The sink was tiled into the wall without any support beneath except for the plumbing. And there were no shutoff valves below the sink. Who thinks of this stuff? The room was rapidly flooding. The carpet was soaked. And I, in my birthday suit, quickly jumped up and did what anyone would do under the circumstances. I stuck a finger into each pipe and stopped the flood. Lisa was screaming in fear (arrest) and pain (sink fell on toe). I was thinking, I’d like to be dressed when the hotel maid arrived. So first, put on my pants. Lisa stopped hopping and screaming; helped with the pants. Remember, hands not free to act. Good! Get a chambermaid. Maid looks in with an inquisitive look. Eyes open wide! Classic! She throws her apron over her head and runs. (You can’t make this stuff up.) Get someone else. The porter comes. He’s clueless. He looks. He doesn’t help. He doesn’t advance into the room. I need him to find and close the shutoff valves. I don’t plan on being the ‘Little Dutch Boy.” No luck naturally, he doesn’t speak English, and I’m don’t speak Italian. We’re in Rome, duh!! The porter finally advances close enough to this half dressed nut (me, remember, only pants) so that I can pull out one finger and squirt him in the face. He runs off… I’m thinking to call the police.
Get me some wine. What! That would be Lisa still screaming… and she knows I don’t drink. I’m frankly amazed that I can think through this emergency that I have never encountered. Two corks from the trays lying in the hallway, thank goodness for room service last night. Corks into the pipes and the water is stopped. The floor is flooded and the carpet is soggy. What now!? We do not have the money for this disaster. Quickly packing… I mean just throw your stuff into the bags… and we’re out of the room and down the elevator. News of our mishap has just made it to the lobby. Lisa stops at the desk, screams out in English (Italian speaking hotel, remember?), “What kind of hotel do you have here?!! My toe is injured! I’ve been damaged by your hotel!” And it appears the desk manager misinterprets Lisa and thinks she is going to blame the hotel, so he yells back in Italian (translation unknown, I don’t speak Italian, I told you already).
With that Lisa picks up the two suitcases (heavy for me, but fear will do amazing things) and stomps out the door saying that we’ll never stay here again. Really? I follow with all the early morning guest staring at the two noisy Americans. All I can say to this is that I took one photo before we evacuated the room. Yeah, priceless. Someday, I’ll find the photo of when we stayed two nights in a working brothel. Oh, to be young, on a budget, and so innocent.