This year, just like many years before, August 2nd came and went without any special fanfare, sandwiched between other days and weeks of working drudgery, worrying about money, getting headaches from the news, etc, etc, etc.
But once upon a time, August 2nd was a very special day – because it was our parents’ wedding anniversary; and as far as I could remember, I always tried to make it special.
August of the year 1988 saw our entire family in Italy – and not in any romantic way. We were in the middle of our longish road from the Communist USSR to the blessed free soil of the United States. At that moment we were stateless and poor like the proverbial church mice – because the Communists, in their benevolence, made sure that anyone crossing the Iron Curtain did so as unburdened by personal possessions as possible.
But it was our parents’ wedding anniversary! We had to do something special for them, no matter what! So, finally, we hatched a plan – we will pull our ice cream money and buy them flowers; but not just any flowers – a fancy bouquet from the flower shop, wrapped in the clear cellophane, enhanced with Baby’s Breath and decorated with curly ribbons! (yes, in the glorious country of the developed Socialism such flower arrangements were absolutely unheard of).
Going without ice cream in order to make a nice surprise for our parents was not a problem – but actually getting the blessed bouquet was. You see, our fellow immigrants being, well, homo soveticus, behaved in a manner of non Kosher animals to the point of completely antagonizing the usually warm-hearted and friendly Italians (to a point that nobody, especially in a fancy store, wanted to serve anyone Russian-speaking). So, yours truly, being an older sibling and the only one speaking a language other than Russian (at that point I was actually pretty fluent in German), was designated to perform an actual purchase.
August 2nd arrived, and we all trooped to the fanciest street in Ladispoli for the fancy flower store. I breached the castle and pretended to be an Austrian; in retrospect, I don’t think the Italian chick was fooled, but she answered all my questions, and then proceeded to take my selection (three gorgeous flowers whose name completely escapes me in any language) to be wrapped. While I was waiting for her to finish curling the ribbons, my beloved sister (who probably lost patience waiting for me outside) burst in and completely blew my cover by yelling in Russian “It didn’t work, did it?!”
Don’t despair, oh gentle readers. We did end up presenting that magnificent bouquet to our parents; if the memory serves me right, Baby Bro was the official bouquet-bearer. Ah, the strange memories that pop into one’s head….