4 October 1965 / Vlorë Greece

It’s rare that I lose my sense of direction, and if it happens, it’s usually after a heavy meal. Case in point, yesterday, I found a small cucina in the Southern Italian city of Lecce that was open for early lunch. After a late night of philosophizing and drinking wine with locals the night before, I had awakened atypically late and was famished.

The food was remarkable and copious. I sampled everything on their menu, from the baked beef eggplant and sausage orecchiette to the olive buckets and the numerous sacks of lard bread. I was the only patron there, but I was eating enough for the room. (I had forgotten my afternoon cheese the day before).

The owners were ecstatic for my business, and even offered specialties that were reserved for family only. I was happy and honored to oblige, especially with the guancialeere. But after finishing the 2 shanks of lamb they served me for terzo dessert, I was told that the kitchen was empty.

“What is this?!? Pudgies Pizza?!?” I angrily accused. They stood motionless, the insult going right over their heads. “Pudgies Pizza also ran out of food on me,” I explained, then paid my bill and lurched outside. If they didn’t want my business, I would find those who did.

I stomped away, in search of coffee to wash everything down. How dare they not even serve me coffee?!? I fumed, winding through the narrow streets. It was unseasonably hot, and with my anger raising my core temperature an estimated 15 degrees, I stopped, sweating and panting. I reached in my jacket for my handkerchief to dab my brow, but instead I pulled out a cup, filled with hot coffee corrected with cognac.

Perhaps I acted a little rash I thought as I sipped. I decided I should return to that small cucina, apologize for my verbal thrashing and perhaps marry the chef’s daughter.

But when I turned around, I immediately felt something off. My surroundings were suddenly strange and unfamiliar. In my rage, had I wandered blindly? I tried to retrace my steps, but with each stride, I became more and more confused. I’d round a corner I'd seen before, only to enter some lane that was completely foreign to me. Odd, because I was sure I'd explored every inch of this Italian city during my stay.

I had no shame in asking locals for directions, but my inquiries only met with shrugged shoulders or, worse, bizarrely aggressive kissy kissy faces. I was starting to feel like a mouse in a maze with no entrance or exit, and started behaving as such, clawing at the ground and attempting to chew through the stucco walls. I can’t say I panicked, but I was a little nervous.

It was later that I discovered I was actually in Greece, and that I must’ve hopped on a tanker or something the night before. Luckily, once I realized that, landmarks immediately snapped into focus, and I was able to find my cottage quite easily. I’m going to turn in early tonight.