November 1, 2007
“Signorina, are you sure? You wish to buy this in Spanish?” He had me at signorina, he could’ve called me signora, like everyone else had.
“Oh no! Thank you for looking! I thought I had picked up one in Italian.”
“Italian? Bella, you wish to buy the book in Italian? Do you read Italian?”
“No, signore, I do not read Italian well. But my mother read Pinocchio to me, and I’d like to buy her a copy in Italian as a gift from my trip.”
He lit up like one of the beautiful Venitian lights. “Did you know that Pinocchio came from Italy? It is our story, it does not belong to Walt Disney! Your mother read this to you in Italian!”
I did not correct him, for the memory I have of my mother reading me this book is indeed Walt Disney’s version. But his joy was so contagious that he just didn’t need to be burdened with the truth. He dug through his many versions of the children’s tale, and sorted through the different languages. Triumphant when he found the last Italian copy, he announced his discovery with fanfare for dramatic effect.
After we completed the transaction, he adjusted his little glasses and lovingly wrapped the storybook in paper and then sealed it with stickers from his shop. He presented it to me as if it were the last and most special holiday gift under the tree. We said our farewells, and wished each other well — and we really meant it. I think about him and his delight often, and I hope my mother enjoys the book.