Act 2, Scene 17
Beth and Rocky

Ancient Rome, The Italian Renaissance, And Postmodern Love

by Frederick Noble

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The day of the student show arrived at last. I only had one painting 100% finished, not a great one but not bad for a beginner and slacker like me.

I wish I’d been able to finish my painting of the valley but one too many picnics on the hillside prevented that.
OK, maybe three or four too many.
As an interesting side note, that painting has yet to be finished. It hangs on my wall, awaiting the mere hour or so it would've taken to complete. But I haven’t touched it since, for reasons that will become apparent.
How’s that for foreshadowing?

Heather was disappointed in her work, unnecessarily. She’d created faces in clay then used them as molds to create handmade paper masks. To go with this, she designed a minimalist wooden doll. Everyone else thought it was ambitious, daring, and interesting even if the experiment didn’t go exactly as she planned. Some of the dyes she used on the paper didn’t come out like she wanted, but there was still a general feeling of relief and anticipation for the evening's festivities.
We spent the morning shopping in Arrezzo, a neighboring town that has almost no tourist attractions whatsoever. It’s a center for shopping for all the surrounding towns in the valley. A wonderful lunch and it's home for siesta and mental preparations for the show.

The show was impressive. Usually at a student exhibition there's maybe one or two works that interest me but here there were several. The jewelry class in particular did some beautiful work and I wish I had photographs to show you. Watching the locals react to some of the work was more fun than most of the works themselves. Free wine and munchies also helped make the evening a success. Rumors that Tonino's was preparing a special dinner afterward turned out to be false but lots of cappuccino and wine kept our spirits high.

Sitting on the balcony at the restaurant, Beth's favorite local, Rocky, joined us. Rocky is, of course, a dog. He looks like a football with legs, same size and color, just a mutt but still Beth's beloved. Beth petted him for several minutes before pulling the beast into her lap. Rocky took this as an invitation to bury his face between her breasts and begin humping her crotch. Beth was distraught, between giggles and squeals. "Rocky, Rocky, don't do that!"
Rocky was pushed aside, though naturally not off Beth's lap, while we all laughed. He immediately came back for more.
"Rocky, stop it!" Beth yelled, pushing the little thrusting body away.
We asked her to put him on the floor before our sides all burst with laughter but she said, "He doesn't know what he's doing, unlike some of the Italian men around here!"
Rocky came back for thirds, this time licking Beth's cleavage while he pumped his hips against her.
"Rocky, quit, I don't like you that way! Let's just be friends!" Beth squealed as we erupted into a new stage of hysterics. Tears were streaming and wine was spilling and other restaurant patrons were beginning to take notice. Rocky didn’t let up but Beth continued simultaneously to defend his honor while trying to fend off his efforts, "You guys, stop it, you're going to make him feel bad!"
"I don't think that's what he's feeling" I gasped between laughs.
Beth finally turned the creature completely around so that he couldn’t press his now-erect penis into her thighs. Rocky got dejected and hopped down. Heather tried to call him over (why, I have no idea) but Rocky had had enough and left in a sulk.
We staggered home, giggling all the way.
Rumor had it the Perseid meteor shower was going to be a spectacular show that night so we threw a few blankets out into the courtyard and stretched out, still giggling. Soon a whole pack of our female friends joined us in staring into the sky. I caught sight of one spectacular meteor, trailing smoke as it moved almost in slow motion across the sky.
But eventually the tale of Beth's tryst with Rocky got out and everyone was rolling around on the picnic blankets in complete hysterics. Despite extensive abuse, Beth continued to defend Rocky instead of herself.
"Sounds like you were egging him on, you tease!"
"Yeah, I have just one question: do you spit or swallow?"
"Guys, he couldn't help it!" Beth squealed in defense.
"That was gross."
"Oh, come on, you were all wondering!"
"Actually I wasn't wondering. I assumed she swallows."
Everyone howled with laughter.
"Quit it, Rocky's a sweet dog!" Beth responded.
"Oh so you DO swallow!"
Eventually the laughter died because we were all blue-faced from lack of oxygen. My stomach ached for a day and nobody saw much in the way of meteorites.

Of course after a night of such delight, one must be plunged back into reality. News from home finally arrived. I got a letter from my father and wandered, reading as I walked, into the bookmaking studio where Heather and a few others were working.
“Oh my god, my godmother died” I said suddenly with a stop.
I realized I’d said it aloud a few seconds later and looked up to see everyone looking at me. I decided to keep my feelings to myself, or at least not bother folks in the middle of their work, and headed back to the library next door to read the rest of the letter. I was never what anyone would call close to my godmother but she was a wonderful person and a significant influence on my life.


Heather found me about halfway through the letter and gave me a big hug. I was shocked at her sensitivity. Had I been able to think about it I might have thought I was becoming important to her on some level, but all I could think of was the loss of my godmother. I still miss her.
On the other hand, I also got letter from Lena telling me she was coming to Cortona and will join us in Venice and continue on with me to Amsterdam.
Some days the roller coaster highs and lows are more spectacular than others.
The upcoming week promises higher highs and lower lows with the Cortona Bistecca Festival (a cookout that’s supposed to draw folks from the entire valley), the last week in Cortona (which has become my home away from home), the big cumulative art history final and last week of painting. Lena should arrive late in the week to cheer things up and there's the trip to Siena for the horse race, as well as the big sendoff party at some local villa.
Are you one of those people that hold your arms up on the roller coaster ride, giggling and screaming at the same time? I am. If you’re one of those people that grips the bar, white-knuckled, eyes clenched shut, or even worse refuses to ride roller coasters entirely, you’re reading the wrong fuckin' book.
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