European Diary

Déjà Vu by the Gross

Off the back of the little three-wheel ladybug-shiny truck in front of the house, parked under an exuberant tree to which one of the neighbors had attached a washing line, early this morning I bought two yellow melons, three kilos of Muscat grapes, two kilos of late, hillside peaches, a kilo each of plums and persimmons, a large head of lettuce, a dozen lemons, six pears of some unknown variety the size of a sheep’s head, and a handful of fresh walnuts, still in their involucres of roughly polished emerald.  I paid $18 for the lot, and from the eyebrow raised by Carmelo as though up a flagstaff of fiscal prudence, I understood that I may have overpaid.  Eighteen dollars represents one tenth of my liquid assets at the moment, and I will bear his tactical signal in mind when I do the week’s shopping again next Saturday.  Carmelo is the owner of the local bar, who launches my mornings with a ten-percent discount on a 70-cent cup of coffee.

A few days ago I was in London, where an old friend—whose divorce from a Russian tycoon, some years ago, had made her a woman of substance, without, however, inducing her to forget that it is usually the poor who make one laugh—took me out to dinner at an expensive restaurant in Mayfair.  Expensive means something like my total assets per person, excluding the wine, the tip, and the cab fare.  We would be six at dinner, and hence the aggregate outlay...

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