Tuesday, March 20, 2012
March 14th was my boss Alan's 41st birthday. I told him he had just had a birthday, in fact I remember bringing his "Big 4-0" tiramisu out to him and singing "Tanti Auguri" with the students once before, and it must have been just last month. He said this terrifying sensation gathers momentum each year. I joined him, his wife Anna Maria, and some family friends at the relatively new Hard Rock Cafe in central Florence, housed inside a really cool old theatre, to celebrate with nachos, burgers, and 90's alternative rock music.
The evening was slightly marred by an extremely persistent emergency alarm that told us repeatedly in Italian to remain calm and proceed toward the exits. The Americans looked around confused, not understanding the message, and the Italians just ignored it and continued nursing their frilly cocktails. The waiters continued business as usual, explaining there was a problem with the alarm and no emergency (other than the impending psychological damage of the exasperating announcements). This jarring bulletin continued mostly on and rarely off for an hour, and Alan, unable to take it anymore, went outside for some fresh air where I witnessed a group of 20 twenty-year-olds sing him "Happy Birthday" to make up for Hard Rock's shortcomings. Thankfully, the manager wasn't Italian so she gave Alan some birthday ice cream and us a hefty discount on the bill. Needless to say, none of us see ourselves returning to Hard Rock any time soon.