The news arrived first the via a message from l’Associazione Olivolo (established to protect Venetian tradition), and seemed nothing short of a miracle: they found it. They found the head of our dear Sior Rioba.
The missing marble mass (along with its good-luck iron nose) was discovered this morning in the Sotoportego di Calle de la Racheta (the underpass that connects the calle with the Fondamenta San Felice) by some ecological workers in the area. They turned it over to the police.
On reading the news, I was ecstatic, beside myself, almost unbelieving. Reading others’ reactions on the Cercasi disparatamente Sior Rioba (Desperately Seeking Sior Rioba) facebook page, I saw they were similar. Relief, celebration, exultation.
The entire city had been so stunned and appalled by this senseless act; residents and social networks mobilized immediately, denouncing the defacement and calling for the Sior to be made whole again. But why the extreme reaction? There are certainly greater tragedies, on much larger scales and at human cost, occurring daily. Why all the fuss?
Perhaps that’s the point. Perhaps in these days of car bombs and national bankruptcies becoming as common as colds, senators comporting themselves as 10-year-olds, the term ‘financially successful’ now established as a synonym for screw-everyone-as-long-as-I-get-mine, a massive spigot belching black crude into an emerald gulf, series of natural disasters each more heartbreaking that the last, and an overall lack of respect for every one and every thing manifest in almost every type of institution from government to religious to business, the recovery of an ancient marble head so pointlessly removed from a statue held dear by locals and travelers alike was so welcome, you might have thought we’d all won the lottery.
Given that to win the lottery you have to enter, and that it’s easy to feel powerless in a world where uncertainty is the norm, I’ll celebrate this small, but precious bit of good news, and hold it very, very close. For in the end our Sior Riobas help us withstand the other muck: they are there, stalwart, impervious, unchanging; completely unperturbed by, say, Goldman Sachs’ uncanny ability to humbly endure a senatorial tongue lashing while simultaneously counting the billions they made off the misfortune they sold.
Hang in there, Sior Rioba. When we heard of your misfortune, a wave of indignation flooded the city as thoroughly as any acqua alta we have ever endured. We will now wait for the news of the grande festa once your head is back atop your rounded shoulders, helping you support your load of precious merchandise, keeping watch over the expansive campo named for you and your brothers.
I, for one, will touch that good-luck nose once it’s back where it belongs. We need all the help we can get.