Saturday, August 19, 2006

MACERATA (part II): How much is that doggie in the window?

ON THE DAY WE TRAVEL to Macerata, there is a huge market day going on.

The streets are jam-packed with pushy market-goers and the more laid back strollers who spend hours carefully perusing the stands.

To me, the streets might as well be empty and desolate. I only have eyes for a puppy.

This market looks like the many others I have been to in Italy except larger. Hand-sewn intricate bags hang from hooks next to long, flowing dresses, beside a tent dedicated to belts, jewelry, and hats that range from Viva Italia to the New York Yankees emblem embroidered on the front.

I am bored and long for something new to look at it.

That’s when I notice a grungy looking man slumped between two baby carriages. Intrigued, I move closer. Inside each carriage are three delicately small puppies.

Normally more cautious, I barely notice the man who clearly owns the puppies as I dangle my face inside one of the carriages. I ooh and aah over the puppies as they lie sweetly together for warmth and protection. One yawns and stretches his little puppy legs, causing the others to squirm and readjust positions.

“I want one of those puppies,” I say quietly to my professor as my eyes remain locked below me.

“Get one,” my absent-minded professor says.

He either thinks that I am joking and would never actually buy one or he finds my addiction to the puppies amusing and wonders how far this can possibly go.

“Okay,” I call his bluff and run off in search of an ATM.

After withdrawing more euros than I should, I plan on shoving the wad of cash in front of the gypsy man while my professor translates my desire. The puppies’ owner explains to us that the puppies were not for sale, and they are actually bait for receiving donations. I figure if I offer more money, then maybe I can slip away with one of these precious looking pups.

Just as my hopes are beginning to soar, the painful reality sinks in: I am returning home to the United States in two days, and I have no idea whether all (if any of my three) flights are willing to accommodate animals…especially animals who have never seen the inside of a veterinarian’s office and were purchased from an Italian beggar.

Even if the man lets me buy one of his puppies, I know it wouldn’t be the right thing to do, as I probably would have to only say goodbye again.

And so I reluctantly leave the otherwise mundane marketplace with only pictures of the adorable puppies in my memory and on my digital camera.

- Ann Curran


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