A Series of Unfortunate Events – By @pitspadafora

By Pietro Spadafora


A Series of Unfortunate Events


Dear Friend,


            I could not wait for Christmas to go home and relax a moment after the first school term. Not that I deserved that much the holidays but I was really tired. Certainly I would have never expected to run into one bad luck after another and to find myself on January 7th even more tired than I was on December 22nd. Luckily, I still have these last two days of rest. If it is true that luck and misfortune alternate like the swings of a seesaw, now either I win the lottery or I prepare a brief to be posted on the SCA website. It is really true good luck is blind, but misfortune sees very well.

            In this very moment I am traveling on a plane to London and I had to put all my books on top of each other on the little table in front of me to write on the keyboard, I have an incredible stiff neck and I cannot lower my chin. I do not even know where to start, my only fixed thought is directed to my suitcase (22.4 kilos!) and the fear that it never arrives at destination… I already find it hard to carry my head on top of my shoulders. Maybe it is better to tell you everything in chronological order, starting exactly 17 days ago (the unlucky number in Italy’s tradition).  

            After spending a quiet Christmas Eve with my family (including grandmother, uncles, cousins and a couple of friends) on one of those typical dinners that last for hours, eating and eating, I prepared my luggage to go to Switzerland, where we have a small chalet. I do not like to drive (in the last 7 years I have been abroad and almost never got behind the wheel), so I was with my parents. This is when my problems started. As we set off we heard on the radio that an avalanche had blocked the entrance of the tunnel between Italy and Switzerland so the only alternative road available entailed to cross the mountains from another pass: instead of a 10 minute tunnel a detour of more than two and a half hours…

            Eventually arrived at our small village, I felt safer, going to our little mountain chalet is a tradition that has been going on for 27 years. The next day, on the 26th, the village was almost empty, it seemed to be in the Far West, only that there was a lot of snow instead of sand. My plan for the first day is always the same: to go out in the evening, meet the “bouncers” of the two discos of the village before the “delirium” of New Year (in fact from the 28th onwards thousands of people arrive for a big New Year’s party held in the central square of the village and in the discos) and try to make friends with them. A clever strategy so you can always enter the discos and bars and skip the long lines in the days around New Year. The mission to get acquainted with the bouncers was successful… it was the end of the evening that did not go as planned.

            At the end of my intense “networking” tour, I headed to what I have always considered my Swiss life-saver. Behind a small chalet, there hides a baker who prepares sandwiches during the night before selling them to the stores the next day; by now I know François, the old baker, well, he greets me with enthusiasm every time he sees me, it has been almost 20 years since we first met. He was strangely exalted and wanted to let me try the new sandwich menu that he had prepared with his daughter. I happily made his guinea pig, trying three different things. Returning home I felt heavier than usual, it was not just the alcohol and the food.

            I was not fully sober and had to wake my parents up at 2 in the morning when I discovered that bubbles were spreading all over my body and I did not even breathe well… the signs that a strong allergy was about to erupt  were loud and clear! Clearly the small emergency room in the village was closed at night so to get to the nearest hospital we had to take the car in a hurry to go to the closest town, 45 minutes and about 40 hairpin turns away. I forgot to mention that it had started to snow heavily… I somehow survived, but had to stay home for the next four days under cortisone and antihistamines; in addition to missing great evenings, I lost the only days with beautiful snow and sun. Being at home, and not feeling well, while the others ski is not really the best, fact checked.

            On New Year’s Eve I had finally (almost) recovered and could not wait to party until dawn. I went to a dinner at a friend’s house, then we arrived punctually to the central square at 11.59 pm for the final countdown of 2017. The square was seething, the space for each person was very small, a person who suffers from claustrophobia would die for much less. 10-9-8-7-6-5-4, before arriving at 3 a general push started and the friend I was with got his shoulder off (he had already dislocated it three times and had planned to be operated in March)… at least I managed to see the local emergency room, this time open for that special night, but it would have certainly been better not to spend there 5 hours on the first hours of the New Year…

            The other days passed very slowly, strong snow storms high on the slopes, fog and torrential rain in the village, impossible to ski. To return to Milan I decided to take the train instead of the car, to avoid any problem; while the landscapes changed, I felt like Odysseus returning after years of adventures to Ithaca. But (there have been too many “but” during these days) unfortunately at one point I fell asleep with my head against the window and the air conditioning (for some reason cold despite the winter) hit me from below, exactly on the the neck, and now I have shoulders, back and head blocked. Result: hero wounded but survived. Not even in the short story “A Series of Unfortunate Events” by Lemony Snicket there is so much misfortune condensed in so few days. I have the feeling that 2018 will be a better year – 0% battery.

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