1997, Florence, Rome.
I was 14 going on 15 and I was in Europe. Quite the big deal. Along with 70 others we were touring around Switzerland and Italy singing our hearts out in the land of yodelers and pasta makers. It was my first big trip abroad and I was soaking it in, very wide eyed and terrified (most of the time).
I learned that there were some places I had to pay for the privilege for a toilet seat (after an unfortunate incident in Rome, I was more than happy to fork over the lire), that gelato is a suitable substitute for breakfast and lunch, that buses stop only for red lights, and that Pope John Paul II probably won’t live to see 1998.
I also found my people. Or so I thought.
One afternoon in Florence a bunch of us were enjoying some free time in the city (yes, they let 14 year olds loose in Firenze – let this be a cautionary tale). We saw David, bought some t-shirts and threw coins in various fountains.
As we were rounding the Duomo we saw a parade. The parade was full of happy people dancing and waving (or at least I remember dancing and waving). As the parade turned the corner I stood there confused. A parader saw the group of 14 year olds and started yelling “LENNON! LENNON!”.
Well, I thought, I like John Lennon. And a few of us started walking along side of them at their invitation.
And then a smart looking Italian guy in a suit quickly approached us, he looked like he was busy. And he said in his Italian accent:
“They are communists.”
The guy was screamin “Lenin! Lenin!”. As in Vladimir Ilych Lenin. The fascist.
So this song, odd as it is, reminds me of the day I became and then unbecame a Lenin-ist in Florence, Italy.