Things and More Things

I’m not cooking, I declare. We head out to the italian restaurant at the corner. Someone at the table next to us is holding a wineglass full of that orangey champagne drink, an adult lollypop. I want one of those, says M. Moments later it arrives, along with a platter of antipasti for us and spaghetti for the children. The sun is setting, we watch people walking by on the sidewalk.

This is great, M says, why don’t we do this more often? Then the guy with the greasy hair and the suspenders comes around the corner. He’s a face we know from the neighborhood. We’ve lived here 19 years; he’s probably lived here all his life. Spare some change, he says, extending a dirty hand. M gives him a two-euro coin. And that piece of salami, he says, his long yellow fingernail nearly touching the hunk of meat. We all look at each other, not quite knowing what to say or do. No, M says, this is my dinner, you can buy something with the money I gave you.

He shuffles off and R bursts into tears, angry with her callous father. I feel guilty that we have so much and others so little, she cries. We spend the rest of the evening talking about the line separating a cold heart from a bleeding heart. The next day at the street festival R is planning to sell old toys and junk from our basement and donate the proceeds to a charity. After she’s in bed, I go through the boxes of stuff she’s weeded out for the sale, picking out the rings.