It was our final night in Positano and we’d been promised the meal of a lifetime.
“Mama” — who ran the kitchen at this legendary restaurant — did not disappoint.
Course after course poured out of her kitchen. Bread. Cheese. Fresh vegetables. Salads with vine-ripened tomatoes. Handmade pasta. Meat. Wine. More wine.
Three hours passed in a jubilant blur and we were completely and totally satisfied.
We felt like we’d been sitting at that table for an entire lifetime. The ladies started to get restless (“Should we be heading back?” “What time is it anyway?”) so I hopped up and found one of our servers.
“Could we get the check?” I asked politely. “And could you call our shuttle company? We should get going.”
He looked at me with a stunned expression.
“No rush, no rush!” he said, as if I was very confused about how the world operates. “We have a surprise for you!”
Then — I kid you not — a slew of people poured out of the back of the restaurant and proceeded to serenade us with instruments….an unbelievable number of tambourines for… another forty-five minutes. Desserts and chilled glasses of limoncello appeared amidst the singing and gaiety.
My dinner companions and I cycled through an entire range of emotions, from bafflement to frustration to bliss.
“Is this really happening?”
“Wow, this is happening.”
“OK. This is still happening. Another tambourine song? OK. Wow.”
“WTF! ANOTHER SONG?? This is going on forevvver. What if something cool is happening on Facebook or Instagram?! Uggh.”
“Um, I have to admit: this is basically the most amazing moment of my life. I love tambourine time!!”
By the time we finally left the restaurant, we’d been there for over four hours.
None of us had ever experienced anything quite like this meal in our whole lives.
As Americans, we just don’t “get” the concept of settling in for a leisurely evening with no rush and no agenda, flowing wine, generosity, live music, and loose, easy conversations where nobody “wants” anything from you. It’s completely alien to us. Antithetical to our culture.
We’re used to instant gratification… emails answered promptly via smart phone everywhere, all the time, even while traveling on an airplane… pizzas delivered piping hot “in thirty minutes or less or your money back”… swiping one finger to line up a date tonight… and worshipping at the altar of “more done in less time.”
Even the most “relaxed” Americans I know are high-strung, frenzied nutcases compared to the average Italian.
Now that I’m back home in the USA, I’ve been catching myself at various points through my day — rushing, racing, missing the beauty of what’s right in front of me because I am so focused on where I need to be soon and what I need to achieve next.
When that frenzied feeling starts creeping in…
I take a deep breath and transport myself back to that family-style dinner table at Mama’s place in Positano.
I remind myself that everything I want to achieve can be accomplished without unnecessary pressure or force. All in good time.
I tell myself:
Chill out, Hyatt.
It’s tambourine time.