I HAD A FLASHBACK THE OTHER night. We’d been enjoying some chat-time over dinner with our 21-year-old grandson and his lovely young partner. He’s a gentle giant, this lad, with a special place in his grandparents’ hearts. And later that night I recalled another meal he and I had shared. On his 10th birthday. At Lone Star restaurant …
He ordered a big little steak, as I recall, with fries and tomato sauce – I ordered chicken stuffed with camembert and a side of buffalo chips. And while waiting for the food to arrive, as he sucked his lemonade and noisily crunched his ice-blocks, I gave him an impromptu geography test.
“London is the capital of which country?” I demanded – and he got it right: “England.”
“How about Paris?” I tried – “France,” he replied, looking smug.
“Well, tell me where’s New York?” – “In America,” he said with a grin that signalled this was way too easy.
“Okay, smarty-pants,” I said. “How about Canberra … Athens … Nairobi … Beijing …?” And the kid nailed them all, darn it!
But I finally tripped him up on Rome. “What country is Rome the capital of?” I quizzed. And, to my delight, he didn’t know.
“It’s in the Mediterranean,” I clued him. But he still couldn’t make the connection.
“It’s where they sing, ‘O sole mio!’” I tried, giving voice to the first few lines. But he’d never heard the stupid song, and other diners were starting to stare.
“It’s where spaghetti comes from!” I offered, my very last concession. And, sure enough, his eyes lit up. With confidence in his voice and victory written all over his 10-year-old face, he shouted “Supermarket!”
So, forget what you thought you knew, and forget what you’ve heard before. Because I have it on good authority:
Rome is now the capital of Supermarket! And that’s the way it will stay …
JOHN (GRAPEVINE’S FOUNDER) LOVES ALL THINGS ITALIAN … ESPECIALLY LONG, SLIPPERY SPAGHETTI SMOTHERED IN SPLASHY TOMATO SAUCE … AND HE CAN SING ‘O SOLE MIO’ (WELL, THE FIRST FEW LINES) WITH THE BEST OF THIS WORLD’S TENORS.