Europe, in my dreams
Literally. Last night I dreamed I was in Milan, Italy. There was a hostel, and on the bottom floor a convenience store/ bodega/ newsagent. I had gone in there for some refreshment and was trying to figure out how to buy beer.
I didn’t have a phrasebook though, and I was racking my brain trying to think of the Italian word for “beer”. Other people milled around the shop; they were silent, and they walked around the couple of aisles slowly. No one replied to my querying “Scuzi?”
I got the attention of the shopkeeper, but still couldn’t remember the word for beer. I mimed, gesticulated; he looked at me intently, trying to comprehend, but I apparently was as bad a mime as I was a linguist.
Finally though some shopkeeper’s intuition he figured me out, and guided me to line of people outside a small wooden room, about the size of a confessional in a Catholic church. One by one, a person would go in to the room, then a minute or two later would come out with their bottle.
Eventually I walked inside, but I still didn’t know how to order what I wanted. The door shut behind me; a small light came on, inside the wood-paneled room. A small window opened in the wall opposite the door. A face, with a visor like a poker player and small round spectacles, peered at me, waiting.
I still knew no word. I mimed again: held out my finger to say “just a second”… I collected my thoughts, and mimed with all my might: the fingers of one hand looking like they’re holding a can, the fingers of my other hand pulling back the phantom tab, me tipping back the can and taking a long swallow, then a pleased grin on my face.
The face in the window nodded. It disappeared; the window closed. I waited. And waited – and a few moments later, the window opened. No face this time, just a cold can of beer. I took the can, whispered a relieved “grazi” and walked out the door to the register, paid, and left, grinning.
The dream ended as I went back to the common room of the hostel.
And not once in my dream did it occur to me how daft it was to be looking for beer in Italy, when there is so much wine to be drunk. But no one said dreams were logical.