A Meeting with the Mayor

Today was the fateful meeting with the Mayor. We all dressed up, but in the end, there was too much delighted squealing echoing through the corridors of the Municipio for our comfort, so I took the two little squealers downstairs, and we went to the optician to get my glasses fixed and then sang “Five Little Ducks,” and several other counting-down songs as we waited in the piazza outside.

Meanwhile, Tony and Carla waited for the Mayor. We had arrived nice and early, since last time Carla went to speak to him (about us, before we moved here) he had scheduled five people to meet with him at 11:00 a.m., and he didn’t arrive until 11:30.

Tony waited with Carla in the Mayor’s office, which was decorated with paintings of people who had been influential long ago in Chiusa Pesio. One had donated 4000 lira, which a few years ago (before the conversion to euro) wouldn’t even buy a loaf of bread. There was an ancient-looking flag of Chiusa Pesio, hand embroidered and beautifully restored. (beautiful). While they were waiting, Carla reenacted her last interview with the Mayor, which happened to have been the famous one with Gianfranco.

Eventually, the Mayor arrived. In between small talk, Tony tried to get in his memorized Italian phrases complimenting the wedding, the Mayor’s daughter, and her command of English. After exchanging pleasantries, Tony explained the situation more or less like this:

“Gianfranco has been great. He’s been very responsive, prompt, and efficient. In fact, he’s almost ready to put the paperwork on your desk for your signature. However, he has run into two potential concerns. The first is that three of the documents are from the Church, because they predate the civil registries. The first is from the Church in Lagnasco, and the next two are from the Church in the United States. Also, Domenico was born before the unification of Italy, so there’s some concern about whether or not he was born in Italy. But Gianfranco says of course we know Lagnasco is Italy. It is Piemonte. But he doesn’t feel like he has the authority to make a final decision. So he’s thinking about sending it to the Ministry of the Interior.” (scary suspenseful music) “Gianfranco thinks the Ministry might lose it! Or at least it will sit on someone’s desk for years and years.”

The Mayor did not seem to grasp the gravity of the situation. “Va bene,” he remarked, “very good. He can just send photocopies.” Tony tried again. While it sits on someone’s desk for years and years, Sarah can’t go to her brother’s wedding. And I can’t go on any business trips to Turkey, or India, or Mexico.” That caught the Mayor’s attention (he is a businessman). He acknowledged that it wasn’t good for Tony to not be able to take business trips. Tony forged ahead. “I asked Gianfranco if it would be helpful to him for me to talk to you. He said, ‘buonissimo!’ because you have the authority to decide.”

The Mayor became fully engaged. “If all I need to do is say yes, then I will say yes,” he said. “Call in Gianfranco!” Gianfranco was called, but was unaccountably missing again. The Mayor said he would discuss it with him later, and that everything would be fine. Tony thanked him and said, “There is one more reason I need to get citizenship resolved quickly.” The Mayor listened gravely. “This year, began Tony, I will to vote for Obama. But next year, I want to vote for Mucciarelli!” The Mayor laughed heartily at the reference to the upcoming mayoral election in Chiusa Pesio.

In the meantime, the Mayor had an agenda of his own. He wanted to talk about Tony opening a store in Chiusa Pesio to sell sports apparel. He had an empty store in town and wanted to fill it. “Besides,” he added, “it would be good for the image of Chiusa Pesio.” He spent quite a while discussing the possibility, and even began negotiating terms with Tony. “But first,” he remarked, as they were leaving, “your passport!”

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