Sunday, July 8, 2012

How I Almost Ended Up in Italian Jail

After spending the last two weeks languishing in the Mediterranean (okay - we really didn't languish - it was a fast-paced, hectic trip...but I've always wanted to just be able to SAY that I "languished in the Mediterranean"), I am back home...and trying to get caught up on the blog, photos, housework, etc.

I intend to fully blog about our adventures, because trust me...we certainly had them. Adventures. Because, if you know me at all, you know that Adventure is my middle name.

Before I get down to it, I thought I would give you a teaser...this adventure relates the story of how I almost ended up languishing in Italian jail. For years. I hope you enjoy The David Story:

A 12-night cruise through the beautiful Mediterranean, and Day #3 brought us to Florence....and here's where IT happened.

Picture this: I am at the Accademia in beautiful Florence, along with hundreds of other barbarians - oops, I mean "tourists" - to view some of the most beautiful art in the world...and to see "The David" - Michelangelo's masterpiece.

Security was tight...after waiting in a short line outside (even with our pre-purchased tickets), we were finally able to enter, after going through a metal detector.

We are on a limited time schedule, so we rush inside the museum and immediately turn left, knowing that's where The David is located, with the intention of then backtracking - if time permits - to see some of the other museum's treasures.

And there before is is The David (and yes, capitalization is important here - because it is THAT awe-inspiring.) We soak it in, along with the hundreds of other barbarians...and the crowd is hushed, as if speaking alone could somehow diminish the beauty of what is in front of us. It will truly bring tears to your eyes, the first moment you see it.

After a good 10 minutes of absorbing The David, I casually look down at my purse, slung over my shoulder, and that's when I see it: a rather curious-looking, innocuous-seeming, black thingy. A button, if you will:

Well. This is curious. I have no idea what that thing is. It appears to be a garage-door opener....? But why would I have a garage-door opener attached to my purse? And it's certainly not MY garage-door opener. So, if not mine, who's??? (These are the thoughts that are going through my head at this time. Scary, I know.)

Uh-oh. What if it's NOT a garage door opener? What if...gulp...a terrorist attached a curious-looking, innocuous-seeming black thingy to my purse, hoping I would push the button - and I inadvertently blow up The David??!!!!

(I told you my thoughts were scary. I've seen too many movies, apparently.)

I quickly find my 12-year old daughter, and whisper to her, "What IS this thing?"

Now...human nature being what it is, people can't resist pushing a button when they see it. Mickey immediately starts reaching for The Button - as if to push it - and I recoil instantly, hissing, "DON'T push it!!! We don't know what it is - it could be dangerous!!!!!"

We puzzle over The Button, but not coming up with any definitive answers, decide to take it to the higher authority on all-things button-related: The Hubby.

We track down Hubby on the other side of The David, and show him The Button.

"What IS this?", both Mickey and I implore...desperately seeking answers at this time.

And before I can react, Hubby immediately reaches over and pushes The Button. Of course he does.

Immediately, a piercing 180-decible (okay, I exaggerate a bit on the decibles, but it SEEMED that loud at the time) alarm starts SHRIEKING in the hushed museum...and all heads swing towards me. And whatever the heck is making that God-awful sound.

And within a second, I realize what this thing is. It's a personal panic alarm - something I had bought years ago and had forgotten that I even owned (I travel sometimes in some scary places - it seemed a good idea at the time to have something...just in case. However...I realize the Accademia is not the case.)

What do I do at this time? I do what any smart-thinking, level-headed person would do.

I freak out.

Frantically, I'm pushing anything I can find on "The Button," desperately imploring my Hubby, "Make it STOP!!!!!" - in between cries of, "OH MY GAWD - WHY DID YOU PUSH IT?????!!!!!!!"

Hubby and I are both tugging my purse back and forth, each desperately trying to find the mechanism to make this thing shut up. And the darn thing WILL NOT STOP. Shriek, shriek, goes on and on and on, like a bad nightmare that won't end.

By now, everyone within a mile of The David can hear this thing, and I am waiting for Accademia security to show up at any second, throw me to the floor, slap handcuffs on me, and whisk me off to Italian jail, where I will languish for months, if not years.

After what seemed like hours, but was more like a matter of seconds, I take my purse and I run. I'm not sure where I'm running to at this point, but I wanted to run far, far away...and so I run towards the exit of The Accademia. Meanwhile, every person in the museum is staring at me - some in curiosity...some in horror...some in confusion...and I can see the questions on their faces:

"Is she stealing something?"

"Did she get too close to The David and set off an alarm??"

"Is SHE a terrorist and is going to blow this place up???"

I rush through the museum and end up in the gift shop, where finally - miraculously - the panic alarm ceases panicking...although I certainly have not. My heart racing, my hands shaking, my palms sweating...I pace back and forth, near tears...waiting for security to follow me and begin the certain-interrogation that is to come, on what exactly just happened.

And guess what?

Security never came.

Nope. Not one official with the museum approached me. In fact, the only people who DID approach me was a Mother/Daughter who followed me out of the museum to the gift shop, walked over, and said, "What the heck WAS that??!!"

And as I related to them what had just happened, that was the first time I got to tell The David Story, as it has now been officially dubbed by my family and will live on in infamy.

I am thankful that no one was hurt. And that I didn't make CNN News that night. And that I'm not languishing in Italian jail.

Lessons learned:

Don't carry panic buttons into museums.

Don't push buttons that you don't know.

And panic alarms certainly work - because I certainly panicked.