15. Giulia

Maialino, mind you, is one of the hottest tables in town, so takeout is not exactly in their line of business.

But a promise is a promise, so Tuesday, I set about cajoling the staff into making an exception. The hostess was immovable, so I asked to speak with the manager.

“What is this regarding?” she asked.

I told her it was a special request for takeout.

We don’t do takeout, she replied, trying to hang up on me.

“That’s why it’s a special request,” I reasoned.

She finally gave up arguing and transferred me to a male manager who was much more accommodating. With the mere mention of the words “dying” and “chef,” he was instantly solicitous.

After work, I catapulted myself across town to Maialino, where the pasta sat waiting to be fired so it would be as fresh as possible. My window for delivery was slim, as dinner is usually served at the nursing home around 5 o’clock, and I knew Guilia would be starving by the time I arrived.

I sailed through the double doors right at 6:30, feeling triumphant.

Obviously, this was not to last.

Mary, the project coordinator, accosted me at the sign-in desk, insisting that I couldn’t give Giulia the food. Loud Tie, who had just walked in and was no longer wearing a loud tie, jumped in on my behalf.

“But she promised her! It should be alright,” he said.

I decided to re-evaluate my initial opinion of Loud Tie.

We went back and forth for awhile before Mary, exasperated, agreed to let me call the staff dietician at home for approval.  I got her on the second ring, and she told me the dinner sounded like a “wonderful treat” for Giulia.

I thanked the desk clerk for letting me use the phone and headed for Giulia’s room on the top floor. She was sitting upright in her wheelchair, eating an apple, when I walked in and proudly presented her with the bag of food.

“What is this?” she asked.

“Bucatini all’amatriciana,” I replied as I unpacked the cartons.

Three of the other volunteers, led by Loud Tie, chose that moment to walk into the room.

“But I’ve already eaten!” Giulia cried, as only an Italian can.

Loud Tie jumped into the exchange.

“She told you she was coming! You wrote it on your calendar, remember? You weren’t supposed to eat!”

Giulia shook her head sadly as Loud Tie cast me a look of pity.

The other young volunteer swept into the room just then, one of Guilia’s cookbooks in hand. With a curtsy, she presented it to Giulia.

Oh, you darling girl, she cried. “Come here, cara!”

I quietly excused myself to put $30 worth of the most delicious pasta in the city in the hallway refrigerator.

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