Looking back through my photos of Rome reminded me of a story that made us both cringe and laugh during that trip to Italy. It was two weeks after 9/11 when we were in Rome. Soldiers with machine guns were all over town. Our hotel was a modest 3-Star near the top of the Spanish Steps. One night we decided to go to the luxurious Hassler Hotel for a drink. We began speaking with an American couple from Florida in the bar. George Bush Sr. had been there with his entourage of secret service people, earlier in the day.
At the bar sat a VERY annoying American woman on a cell phone. The whole lounge could hear her conversations: mostly her political views, her need to move "HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS of DOLLARS" with her financial consultant, what would happen to her stocks and how her "republican sensibilities" were effected by this terrorist attack! The bartender asked her twice to get off the cell phone, as other customers were complaining, rolling their eyes, etc. She was also hacking and sneezing all over the bar with a nasty cold. Finally, the bartender courteously asked her to leave the bar.
Fast forward a week of our trip. We had been to Positano, Ravello, and we were on our last three nights in Italy, and had splurged on the fabulous Quisisana Hotel in Capri.
The hotel was less busy than usual due to 9/11, as many Americans were not yet traveling. When we arrived, they upgraded us to a suite with a HUGE terrace overlooking the pool and sea beyond. We had just finished the fabulous buffet breakfast, when Brad said, "Don't look now, but the Hassler bitch is here".
She was down for breakfast with her husband. We continued our exploration of Capri.
On our LAST night, at our LAST dinner, she showed up again.
She walked up to our table (uninvited), pulled up a chair, and SAT DOWN! "Hi, you're staying at the Quisisana, aren't you? I've been admiring your LOOK." (Note to self...get rid of everything worn in Capri...)
"Oh really? We remember YOU from the Hassler Hotel Bar." (God, that was FUN!)
She said, "Oh were you there on that embarrassing evening when the bartender made me leave the bar?" We smiled "compassionately".
She left her husband at their table, and struck up a conversation. Where had we been, where were we going, she had to move HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS at home, she had been having COUNTLESS phone calls with her broker. If we went to Pompeii, we HAD to use her HER PRIVATE TOUR GIUDE, TONY! At that point, I said, "No, we don't." Brad asked for the check. So much for coffee and dessert! She could see we wanted to leave. We never told her our names. She said, "I can tell you are OUR kind of people!" Just shoot me if that is true!
Her passive/bored husband walked over at that point. She invited us to join them for a drink at the Quisi Bar. We said, we were leaving early, and had to go back to our room, pack, and have an early night. We rushed out of the restaurant before they could follow us, and ducked into a wine bar I knew in an alleyway. There we sat for the next three hours until after 1AM. We had a nice last night after all. When we walked back to the Quisisana, there they were at the Quisi Bar! We were so busted about our "early night".
This is my definition of an "Ugly American", and just goes to show, Money cannot make an ugly American "pretty".