A curious little tale for the DP Challenge – Starting Over. I wrote this on the train to London this morning which made a dull journey a little less dull, so thanks Daily Post!
That’s The Way To Do It!
The day Fabio fell face-first into the industrial grating machine, at the Parmigiano-Reggiano factory where he had worked since he was sixteen, should have been his last. But six months and 162 operations later, he emerged with a brand new face and a brand new name: Silvio
The name change wasn’t essential, but Silvio saw this as the perfect opportunity to start again, to reinvent himself. He had never been particularly popular as a child. His outsized nose, drooping eyes and pointed chin earned him the nickname Punchinello. As a result, people would take great delight in hitting him with sticks whenever the opportunity arose, or dangling strings of sausages in front of his face.
Being the town joke had other repercussions, too. Silvio (or Fabio as he was then) had never had a girlfriend. He’d never even had a date. His second cousin, Margarita, had accompanied him to the town dance when he was seventeen. But he’d had to pay her a tidy sum as well as all the free Parmigiano she could eat, and she’d dumped him within ten minutes of getting in the door, so she didn’t really count.
Now the fresh-faced Silvio was back in town. He wandered the streets like a ghost, ignored and unrecognised. He drifted past people he had known all his life, and smiled secretly to himself when his own uncle walked by, unaware that his least favourite nephew was within punching distance.
But there was only one person Silvio really wanted to see, and that was Nicoletta. He’d always had a thing for Nicoletta. He’d once plucked up the courage to ask her to the annual dance, but as he approached he saw her flinch, visibly, so turned and walked away. Nobody wanted to date Punchinello.
Now, with his nose grated down to a much more acceptable stump, and his eyes tucked and tightened, things were different.
The bell above the grocery store, where Nicoletta worked, went ding and Silvio’s heart went ping as he saw his childhood fantasy not six feet away. He moved closer. Now only three feet, an arm’s length, stood between them. He watched carefully, ready for the flinch, but none came. Instead, Nicoletta lifted her beautiful brown eyes to his and smiled.
Silvio produced a red rose from behind his back and presented it to his one true love. Within a few months they were married, her dress a little tight around her swelling belly, but beautiful nonetheless.
With the compensation from his accident, Silvio opened a Parma ham shop. He called it Punchinello’s Parma Products, a name which made him grin and chuckle every time he saw it, and made his wife worry about her new husband’s sanity.
Nicoletta and Silvio had several children in quick succession and, although Nicoletta couldn’t understand why her children had such large noses and such pointy chins, they were happy. Silvio invested the last of his compensation in a giant slicing machine and soon Punchinello’s Parma Ham was the talk of the town.
Over the years, as the business went from strength to strength, Silvio found his own strength sapped. All he did was slice ham, all day, every day. Nicoletta was no help, after their twelfth child, she refused to be in the same room as him – just in case. Surely, thought Silvio, as he bent over the slicing machine, there must be more to life than this?
And then he had an idea.
The day Silvio slipped and sliced off his smile with the slicer, at Punchinello’s Parma Products, should have been his last. But six months and 179 operations later, he emerged with a brand new face and a brand new name: Mario.