Tuesday, September 18

Don Abbondio is funny, but his actions, or rather, inactions, are extremely frustrating. He is such a helpless idiot! If I were Perpetua or Agnese, I would have pushed him off the cliffs surrounding The Unnamed's castle during one of his frantic searches for an escape route, (except that Perpetua and Agnese, being industrious sorts of non-whiny people, would have been doing something useful with their time instead of bearing witness to Don Abbondio’s exasperating antics). His selfishness puts others in danger, but he is so wrapped up in himself that he doesn't notice or doesn't care. My favorite Don Abbondioism has to be, "What people there are in this place/world!"
I see the scene where they're leaving his house as a comic one: Perpetua, all business, picks up valuable items from around the house, piling them in a central location, such as the kitchen table. Don Abbondio, his pudgy face red with fear and self-interest, scuttles about behind her, picking up each item as she deposits it and, after staring at it for a bit without recognition, places it back on a shelf or table which was not its original home. At the same time he’s wringing his hands and shrieking profundities such as, "Heaven help me! What can we do? Where can we go?" He stops every few moments to tear his hair, run to the window, and shout at passers-by, "Can it really be that no one will help me? Do you really want to leave me to the mercy of those swine? What people there are in this place! What hard hearts! Each of them thinks of himself, and not one of them thinks of me!"
All he wants to do is run around panicking in order to avoid making a decision—it could be that making a decision is more terrifying for him than the possibility of falling into the clutches of the German soldiers. He's the type who could wait in line at Starbucks, (or your friendly independent coffeehouse, if you prefer), for 10 minutes, with the menu in front of him all the while in perfectly legible lettering. When he gets up to the counter, he doesn't know what he wants, because the whole time he's been waiting in line, instead of making up his mind, he's been worrying about the 7-year-old standing outside the shop with her mother. Though they are nowhere near his car, he’s terrified that the child will somehow manage to throw up on it.
Perhaps at the same time, he's been having a very loud conversation on his cell phone, shouting to the person on the other end things like, "But when did Marty say he's going to get there? But are you sure he'll really be there when he says he will? But are you sure? What about the roast? Are you sure he wouldn't like chicken better? He eats beef but he won't eat chicken?! I've never heard of such a thing! What people there are in this--I have to go! No! No, my—will you shut up a minute? I have to order now! What? I'm at Starbucks. STAR-BUCKS! I have to go! No!" and mutters to himself for another few minutes before starting his indecisive go-round with the barista, "What's an Americano? Oh, that sounds terrible! What about a Cap…cap…how on earth am I supposed to know how to pronounce these things? You need an encyclopedia just to get a drink in here! A what? A latte? No, no, young lady, I can't have milk! No dairy! A black coffee? That still means the same thing it used to—once upon a time? Well, yes! That's what I wanted—I don’t want any of this fancy stuff! I didn't think a guy could get a regular cup of coffee in this world anymore! What?! Young lady, would it interest you to know that there was a time, once, when you could buy a cup of coffee for less than it cost to…"
All the while, the 20 people who have accumulated in line behind him are giving him their most evil stares, clearing their throats insistently, tapping their feet, sighing loudly, or other—ruder—things. Some of them may even be on the verge of grabbing a coffee pot and knocking him out, or plotting something more sinister involving straws…
I just don’t understand; how on earth can someone get that far in life and be so totally unaware that there are other people in the world besides him- or herself?

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