I don’t have a clothes dryer, and not many people that I know do. My laundry hangs on a clothesline that’s right outside one of the three windows in my apartment, directly over a canal. Not a canal with a sidewalk (or fondamenta) mind you, just a big canal.
This morning, I find myself in a Venice-only sort of fix. I’d done some laundry and just pulled the sheets out of the washing machine, carrying them in the wash basin per stendere, to hang them on the line. Of course, I’m usually very careful to handle the laundry, clothespins, etc. so they don’t tumble into the canal below. Usually.
But today, without shaking it indoors first, I tossed the wet top sheet out over the line, which immediately loosed a tiny pair of white cotton underwear nestled inside so that they floated gently down to the canal surface below. Lovely.
That’s it for them, I thought; but just passing at that moment was a taxi, the driver of which happened to spot the errant biancheria, and called up (in Venetian), “I think you lost something, do you want me to pick it up?” I am absolutely mortified, but attempt to mirror his nonchalance. Um, OK, yes, that would be very kind of you, you can just leave them at the entrance below? (My Italian suffers, as it usually does, under any emotional distress.)
The driver seems completely nonplussed (maybe he’s used to this sort of thing) as he maneuvers the taxi, leans out to pick up my drawers, maneuvers once again to drape them over the water entrance to the palazzo. Grazie, buona giornata, I yell down; Niente, he calls out, and drives off. I’m still red-faced, at least figuratively, as I head down the stairs to retrieve my soaking lingerie. Che figura.
This banal little adventure has not yet come to an end, however. When I reach the landing, my underthing-y is nowhere in sight. What, did the canal slosh up and carry them away already? I opened the gates and lean out…o Dio mio (not exactly what I said, but I’ll spare you): there, draped calmly like a some sort of enticing emblem of surrender, are my white, wet, wimpy panties signaling the water entrance to the next palazzo, to which I have no access whatsoever. I begin to construct the series of glances they will receive from taxi drivers, their clients, and the endless stream of miscellaneous motor craft and rowers alike, along with just what I’ll say into the squakbox when I ring the owner to ask for access to his building. In the meantime, I wonder what the original taxi driver will think when he drives back by, and sees his retrieval still sunning on its perch.
I’ll let you know how this turns out. Brava, brava, brava…