S11: The Venetian Glass (A Memoir)

I am on a motor boat which is moving swiftly though the murky waters of Venice, and I listen to a pair of gentleman talk softly in Italian while the white bandage wrapped around my wrist slowly turns red.

I arrived to the city of glass with my family a few hours earlier, and after we dropped off our suitcases at the hotel, we decided to visit the Rialto Bridge to walk among the tiny boutiques which held colored glass figurines and black leather purses.  Before I was able to make it across the bridge, a salesman convinced me that the only way to truly experience Venice was to buy a glass stained necklace from him.

Afterwards, we went to St. Mark’s square where the golden mosaics inside the arches still managed to sparkle despite the ominous clouds in the sky. Inside the square the pigeons circled the children like buzzards while the children squealed with glee as they held pigeon food in their hands. It began to drizzle, and although the children ignored the fat raindrops that splattered on the ground, their parents began to hide their cameras. As our clothes started to dampen, my dad suggested that this would be the perfect time to eat dinner.

We gorged on salami sandwiches and red wine, and then we went back to the hotel. I decided to take a shower  to  wash off the evaporated canal water which had fallen on me from the sky. As I adjusted the shower knobs to find the perfect temperature, I recalled the effortless way the gondola drivers steered through the narrow watery corridors and the laughter of the tourists as they sat on the sleek wooden boats.

After I finished my shower, I opened the glass door to get a towel, and the entire glass panel shattered over me. I stood in shock for a few moments before I began to notice that the shower floor was covered in blood. The source of the red liquid seemed to be my left wrist. I wrapped a towel around my body, and without thinking I walked barefoot across the bathroom floor that was littered with glass.

When I made it out of the bathroom, my dad wrapped my wrist with his shirt, and my parents went to get the hotel manager. While they were gone I examined my feet and miraculously found only one small scratch. The hotel manager, a short middle aged man with a heavy Italian accent, walked into the room. He examined the broken shower door, looked at my wrist, and informed us that he called the paramedics.

We waited in the room for half an hour  before the three young paramedics arrived.  A man with long hair, who must have been the supervisor, unwrapped the shirt which was tied around my wrist. He put a white bandage on it and then he said something briskly to me in Italian.  We looked at the hotel manager in confusion and he translated for us by saying, “He says you do not have to go to the hospital.”

We looked again at the man with the long hair, but he continued to talk in Italian, annoyance filling his face.

“He says you do not have to go to the hospital,” the hotel manager repeated.

The long haired paramedic walked to the door, he stopped in the doorway to beckon us with his hand, and he muttered something in Italian.

“He says you do not have to follow him,” the hotel manager translated for us.

The paramedic continued to mumble in Italian as he began to move his hand in a way that implied he wanted to sew something.

“He says you do not need stitches,” the hotel manager told us.

I decided to trust my knowledge of body language instead of our translator (especially since I always win when playing charades), and I followed the paramedics out of the hotel room. My parents also followed them, and the young men led us to a motor boat which was parked in a dark canal. With a flat palm and a shake of his head, the long haired paramedic let my parents know that they would not be allowed on the boat. However, he did point to the location of the hospital when my dad opened a map.

As I listen to the hum of the motor, I find it amusing how different this ride is from the nightly Venice boat rides I always imagined.  In my fantasies the speed of the motor boat would force it to bounce on the water while loud and luminous red and blue sirens would follow us. Instead, the motor boat glides gently through the canal, and the air has become almost silent since the two gentlemen have stopped talking.

The boat arrives at the hospital and the paramedics show me where the waiting area is. There are a handful of people in this emergency room, and they look inquisitively at my wrist. After about ten minutes, a doctor beckons me to follow her into an examining room.

There is a man sitting in the room, and after the doctor unwraps my bandage and examines my wrist, she says something in Italian to the man. I am beginning to wish that I had taken Italian language classes in college, but then she asks me in perfect English, “How did you hurt your wrist?”

“A shower door fell on me,” I reply.

“A shower door….,” she repeats with disbelief written on her face.

She again speaks to the man in Italian, and he asks me in perfect English, “So you are saying a shower door fell on you?”

“Yes,” I say. “I was taking a shower, and the glass fell out of the door, and it shattered over me.

The doctor and the man do not seem to believe me, but they still put two stitches in my wrist and give me a prescription for antibiotics. I walk back into the waiting room and am happy to find my parents sitting there.

We walk back to the hotel through the silent dimly lit streets of Venice and only the occasional pigeon chirp breaks the silence. Although my wrist hurts, I am thankful that I have only one cut. The shattered shower glass could have damaged every piece of skin which it landed on.  I realize that although Venice is famous for its colorful and elaborately designed glass, it should also be famous for the smooth edged glass that is in its shower doors.

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