Planning perfectly sounds like something to aspire to … yet we are likely setting ourselves up for a whole lot of stress if we aim for this! Planning perfectly … what is perfect, anyhow? Everyone’s perception is different, and we are human; no one is perfect. Hey, I’m a planner. I recently organised a baby shower for our pregnant daughter, first grandchild (!), and my kitchen blackboard-notice board had a whole lot of post-it notes with tasks on each one. I’ve found this approach to be a really handy way of remembering all that is required and means all hands (can be) on deck without helpers coming to find me to ask what has to be done. It’s my kind of planning perfectly … although, take away the word, perfectly, because, let’s face it, not everyone is going to do it the way that I would. But in the end, does that really matter? Everything gets done and everyone feels useful. A buoyant community feeling results. Of course, it is in my nature to be a planning perfectly person, so at the time (of the baby shower), I couldn’t help myself, I had a quick check that everything was in order as the first guests arrived. Perhaps (definitely), I tweaked one or two things that didn’t quite look right but it was surreptitiously! In the end, family and friends had a great time, and the mum-to-be had a fab event; that is what really mattered. You might recall from Goodbye to Italia, that my father’s mother, Dirce, was meticulous and houseproud. My father also liked things to be ‘just right’ aka a planning perfectly approach … but something that added to my dad’s charisma was that he had a great sense of humour and was a bit of a daredevil. As a teenager, he and a friend of his, tinkered with motorbikes to smarten them up and sell them. One day, Eugenio (my father) decided to sneak one into his bedroom—he was still living with his mum—and do some final work on the sleek red Ducati, before offering it for sale.
When I start it up, there is a satisfying roar but then it peters out. I switch it off and tinker some more. That should do it. This time, the growl of the engine is prolonged and healthy. I smile and press on the accelerator again. And then, I get the shock of my life when an object hits me with force at the back of my head. I let the bike go with a yelp, and it falls back against the wall with a bang!
‘Cretino! Cosa stai facendo a quest’ora?! Idiot! What are you doing at this hour?!’
I don’t think my mother actually wants an answer but after scrambling onto the bed and switching off the machine, I turn to face her all the same. Unfortunately, I receive the full force of her fury, as this time, a flying shoe connects with the front of my face. I feel a bit befuddled and all I can hear is screeching, as she looks around to get something else to throw at me! I am not staying here. I have had this happen before. I know that she will eventually launch herself at me if she doesn’t have something else to fling. And, of course, I cannot hit her, as she is my mamma.
I slowly step down off the bed and approach her cautiously. My arms are open, and my palms are facing up as if I am about to beg her forgiveness. I am just two feet away from her, and as I see her raising her arm to box my ears, I shoot to the left towards the window. Luckily, it is open. Scrambling out, I am on a square parapet that is adjacent to a similar one on the building next door. The moon is shining, lighting the way. As my mother continues to shriek behind me, telling me what a bad son I am, I only think of an escape route. Another shoe hits the back of my head and without further thought, I launch myself from one parapet to another.
There is an eerie silence followed by a thud as I land on the other side. I don’t land quite square but still, I manage to save myself by rolling into my fall and standing up, just as I connect with the door to the fire escape of the building next door. My mother’s gasp and then renewed furious screeches fill the air. But I open the door and giving her a cheeky salute, I proceed to run down the stairs with a triumphant laugh