Marcos has invited me to share a meal with him in his kingdom: a sticky truck cabin that serves like home. I am on the driver’s seat, while he heats up spaghetti on a gas cooker next to me. “My wife prepared it,” he utters with melancholy, stirring the pot firmly as to get a hold of his emotions. The smell of Italian countryside fills the cabin, caresses the breasts of his poster girls, and penetrates the leather seats.
After a day of waving my thumb at strangers and holding up the sign “Rome” for hours, I got stranded at a petrol station; an unwelcoming factory of third-rate comfort, their star product being a tepid coffee served at a TL-lighted cafeteria that made anyone look like death warmed over.
He spotted me at the only comforting place I could find, wedged between the coffee machine and the snack dispenser, my head bobbing to the rhythm of my insomnia. A tap on the shoulder brought me back to reality. “I am Marcos and you are going to have dinner with me,” the tanned truck driver stated in an Italian accent.
I am wide-awake now; the idea of a homemade meal makes my stomach holler. Marcos hands me over a plate and a fork. I immediately start chopping the strands in ready to eat pieces and I would have passionately slaughtered the whole plate if it were not for Marcos’ reaction.
“What the hell are you doing?” he shrieks.
I look at him incomprehensively. “Whatever you do, never ever cut spaghetti,” he reproaches me as if I were a three-year-old. Even the poster girls have changed their ardent looks for a look of disdain.
I realize I just broke the spaghetiquette. Spray-painting the Coliseum would have been less insulting. I wish I were still wedged between the coffee machine and the snack dispenser.
I move uncomfortably in my seat. Marcos professionally twirls, lifts and chews the pasta. I am faced with the impossible task to one-handedly wrap the spaghetti around my fork, bring it gracefully to my mouth and make all the strands disappear at once. This pasta puts up a fight: the strands either launch themselves back onto my plate or desperately clutch to my chin. I have no choice but to slurp them up, trying to slow them down just before they enter my mouth to avoid the infamous spaghetti splatter.
After half-an-hour of struggling, I twist and twirl almost at the same rhythm as Marcos. The only difference being that I have more sauce on my chin. And on my lap. And it is on the steering wheel. And on the left breast of a blond poster girl. And there is some on the windscreen too.
“Sorry, Marcos” I say, pointing out the bloodbath. He shrugs his shoulders at the sight of the collateral damage. He seems pretty happy; after all, he has housebroken a lost hitchhiker. Italian style.
photo by stevendepolo