Monday, August 29, 2011

Friendships II.

448. A makeshift coffee room, third floor. With our drinks in hand, ten of us are standing around the room, forming three thirds of a circle around Gisele, who is sitting because she is pregnant, and the table with wine bottles and cakes. Speech, speech, someone starts the usual celebratory chant, and Mario, embarrassed, passes the bucket to Bowser, who, to my surprise, actually starts a speech. "Well, thank you all," Bowser says, appropriately waving one arm in a welcoming manner, "for coming for Mario..." We all laugh, and Mario takes it over. It is soon evident that, while having arranged his double-celebration from last week, Mario has not prepared a speech at all. 

Earlier today, on Skype. "Buon compleanno!" I have told Mario, after having consulted both the Internet and Cassandra, my Roman-born officemate. "Thanks!!!" Mario replied. "Well done, you are improving your Italian!!!!! Today I will check the pronunciation! :)" I sent a smiley back, and the image in my head at the time of a cheeky boy was slightly different to the image of a shy boy at the moment, standing in front of his colleagues and friends, trying to find the right word. With a lot of foot shuffling and embarrassed smiles, Mario tells us what we have already known, that today is his birthday, and that he has recently gave a post ("Position," the ever-helpful Bowser quickly points out). A position, Mario kindly humours Bowser, and that is why we are here today. He thanks us for something, I do not remember what, but what I remember, is that he hopes to continue working here for the next few years and to continue being friends with all of us. We hope so too, Zoe says, and her sentiments are echoed in the lovely smiles around the room. 

It's hard not to agree with Zoe. Wouldn't you want to be friends with the boy who smilingly hosts friends and a friend of friends for days, who kindly drives the guests for hours, be it across the width of Italy or well past midnight, for sightseeing with thoughtful explanations, for street festivities miles and miles away, for dinner at a "really good restaurant that my friend has told me about" in a nearby city, who teaches you how to play volleyball(ish) in the sea? The dinner, in addition to its promised excellent food, turned out to be on an open terrace overlooking the magnificent Italian coastline, with full moon shining onto the dark water, colourful fireworks in a distance, and -- towards time for panna cotta, tiramisu and mille foglie -- a live band just under the terrace. In the fresh air of that evening, somehow the topic of the London train (or the miss of) was brought up. Tell the story, Zoe playfully prodded, and what with her having already known and Gaston's having actually been there at the time, the only person I really ended up telling was Mario. At the end of my embarrassingly gushing storytelling about how calm and kind Gaston was, given the circumstances, Mario has concluded, "This is what we say: Gaston has gained a lot of heaven points..." 

Agreeing with Mario at the time, I have wondered whether Mario realized that what he has been doing those particular days was also earning him many, many heaven points. Buon compleanno once more time, here to Mario, and to all the heaven points he much deserves. Especially after providing us free wine and cakes.

449. So I guess we are really going.
Celery: so we will book now a double room for us
Celery: and may be one of you two can book the triple for you?
Celery: Mushroom is fine with it, just called him

Zucchini: on the phone
Celery: ok
Zucchini: can we do it tomorrow morning?
Celery: hm, the risk is that tomorrow morning there will be no more room left
Zucchini: Gazpacho-y?
Zucchini: now i can't
Celery: and it is not much work
Me: <insert long, winded explanation about how the GB has rejected my card earlier, on the account of having 24 cents left and the monthly salary hasn't come through, unlike it has for my ING friends. (Way to go, Fortis!)>
Carrot: <insert hotel link> 

Me: Celery, I'm sorry but I can't really help you here [ed: why on earth did I say "help you here", when he is asking us to book our own hotel room, not his??]
Me: if I had either the money or the card, I would do it
Celery: Triple room: only 1 room left
Celery: so i booked
Celery: people
Zucchini, one minute later: can you send the link of the hotel again?
Carrot: one sec
Carrot: <insert hotel link again>

Zucchini: thx
Zucchini: triple room is gone?
Carrot: because Celery has booked it
Zucchini: ah *phew*
Carrot: D
Zucchini: ok, back to my call then :)
Carrot: ok
Celery: ja leben ist hart ;)

450. Friendship means that even after not having been in touch with each other for a while, you can instantly feel saddened with just four words of bad news out of the blue.

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