Chapter 1: Colazione
Christmas eve in new york city. all is calm all is quiet. the city that never sleeps seems to finally have settled in for a long winters nap. High above the highest building, up, up in the clouds water is shooting through frozen air and forming tiny particles. The first to crystalize, becoming a tiny six-sided perfectly symmetrical true snowflake bursts forth from the churning white mist as if to announce “Let it snow!” and then suddenly becomes bashful when it realizes no other flakes have emerged yet.
It is now suspended alone high above the world in a sea of blackness. It waivers in the atmosphere shyly and then drifts and loops through the crisp night, tumbling headlong towards the glittering city below. It floats over central park, past the big department stores, past deserted mid town, past the small shops of the village and finally flutters to earth and lands on the nose of a boy who stands alone beneath the arch in Washington Square Park just as a church in the distance chimes the hour, twelve o’clock.
But before we get to all that, we must begin.
This story started months before. Let us travel back to that fateful day when the it all begins… a beautiful morning on a late summer day on the Amalfi coast. The guests at the charming Le Sireneuse are sauntering out to breakfast on the terrace overlooking the ocean, welcomed by the scent of cappuccinos mingling with sea spray and distant lemon trees.
A young girl sits alone at a table near the balcony, a look of fierce anger clouding her otherwise pretty features. She stares off at the distance. One glance at her and you would realize her thoughts are far far away, churning fast, mean, unforgiving and relentless like the ocean stretching out before her.
“Buongiorno Principessa!” booms a waiter who has just walked up to her table to set down a caffe and brioche before her. She stares up at him clearly unprepared to match his level of enthusiasm.
“What you doing Principessa? I bring you the favorites!” he announces in his quintessential italian waiter accent as he flourishes his hand over the plate of brioche. She sniffs it forlornly and looks away.
The waiter is surprised. Usually the girl devours her breakfast with gusto. He's never seen food rest on her plate unchallenged for this long after it is placed before her. He senses her need to be alone and backs away discretely. He stops near the flowering vines growing up a pillar and plucks a bloom and timidly tiptoes back to the girls table and places the flower on top of her pastry.
With this universal gesture of empathy, he wins her over. She looks up at him as her eyes fill with tears and he knows he is welcome to kneel beside her and comfort her. She leaps from her chair and nuzzles into his arms and buries her face in his neck.
Now - it is important that we pause here.
You’ve taken in my words and they’re swirling around in your mind now and beginning to take form of the girl you imagine me to be writing about. But I am afraid that your vision may need course correction. If we go any further, the girl you’ll imagine and the girl I am writing about will become too dissimilar to continue and you’ll end up bewildered and confused in the end.
You see, it is at this point that I must tell you that the girl is in fact a petite black and tan dachshund.
The waiter comforts the girl, stroking her glistening black fur as he settles into her seat at the table, her still in his arms. She licks his name badge tentatively, her tongue touching the etched letters “Sandro”
“Please principessa, do not be a sad!” he coaxes as he tears off a bit of pastry for her which she still refuses, making him worry even more.
Just then a motorboat, the kind you might see in a James Bond big hollywood movie pulls into the cove below the hotel. Sandro and the girl watch as the engine cuts off and it docks. Several people are mulling about on the boat wearing what looks like slightly bedraggled back tie attire, all staggering a bit more than they should be given how still the ocean is this morning.
The first off the boat is a handsome man wearing only tuxedo pants and gold rimmed aviator sunglasses. “Daphne, just leave her, she’s fine” he shouts to the two women still on board the boat. Daphne looks up at him over the top of her similar gold rimmed aviators, shooting him a mischievous look and bounces up from where she had been kneeling, helping her gangly blond girlfriend vomit off the side of the speed boat. “Don’t worry, Taylor, you’ll feel better after some champagne! Come join us ok?” she chirps to the seasick blonde as she lets the tuxedo-panted man help her up out of the boat.
Sandro strokes the girls fur again and whispers under his breath, “Ayyy, my principessa! Now I see. Signorina Daphne. She did not come back last night?!” The girl looks up at him and just sniffles sadly and shakes her furry little head.
A few minutes later the boat couple emerge on the balcony laughing behind their sunglasses, out of breath from the climb up from the dock. Upon closer inspection, they’re definitely quite bedraggled, flecked with glitter and seaweed. Daphne’s Mara Hoffman maxi dress is torn along the hem and she’s lost one of her Oscar de la Renta ombre tassle earrings and both appear to be barefoot.
When they spot Sandro seated with the girl in the corner, Daphne stops in her tracks, and several painful moments pass punctuated only by the distant echo of Taylor vomiting below as the waiter and pup stare down the party couple.
“Doxieeeeee!” Daphne coos, finally deciding to pretend nothing is wrong as she rushes forth towards her dog. Sandro stands up defensively, almost knocking the table off the balcony in the process, sending pastries flying across the marble floor like a strange game of bakers’ shuffle board. He holds Doxie aloft, so that the still half-drunk Daphne cannot reach her.
“Signorina” he admonishes. “Principessa she worries! Why you no come home!? Principessa she is a not a speaking to you!”
Doxie cowers on Sandro’s shoulders, indeed not speaking to Daphne but giving her the best sad puppy eyes she’s ever mustered up.
“Doxie my sweet, mommy is here!!! Come to mommy! Don’t you want to have champagne with mommy? I was…. I was uh… i was in Capri! Yes, In Capri at the most beautiful pet store getting you beautiful new presents! Lots of presents! And prosciutto!” Daphne spews anxiously as she grasps for the pup high up on Sandro’s towering shoulders.
“Doxieeeeeeee” Daphne tries again, practically climbing Sandro’s torso to get a hold of the quivering puppy. “Doxie I’m serious, come here!” she shouts as she looses her balance and tumbles into a table where Julianne Moore is quietly eating fruit beneath a large hat.
“Let’s a see it then! Prego! Where is ze prosciutto?” challenges Sandro “Where is Principessa’s a present? Every time-a you go away you say my principessa you bring her the prosciutto! She is a tired of this!”
“It’s, it’s on the boat… I’ll get it, I think it’s in my bag…” Daphne trails off, looking back to her friend for support, but he’s disappeared to find Taylor and nurse her back to health with a champagne breakfast.
“I… I’ll just take her to get the presents. Thank you Sandro for watching her. Doxie come with mommy!” Daphne tries again, making one more grab for Doxie as the sounds of the speedboat’s engine coming back to life waft up from below. Daphne is momentarily distracted by this and rushes to the edge of the balcony to see her friend back on the boat, his arm draped around Taylor who has indeed recovered. The two are smiling and uncorking their champagne as the boat maneuvers back out into the fresh morning surf. Daphne reaches into the folds of her ruined Mara Hoffman and fishes out an iPhone and begins furiously texting the boat people while Sandro and Doxie watch and judge.
“I am a guess the prosciutto is a leaving signoirna?” Sandro asks. Daphne realizes she’s caught in a lie at the same time she realizes the boat is pulling away with her Aquazurra Wild Thing heels and one of her ombre earrings.
“Oh Doxie, get over it. It was just one night” she sighs in frustration as she continues texting. Sandro has had enough at this point. He deftly places Doxie on his empty tray and lifts her high above his head.
“Princiepssa is a leaving!” he announces and with that he maneuvers past Daphne and through the maze of white table clothed tables and disappears into the kitchen. Julienne Moore watches in confusion as a dachshund just passed her table on a cocktail servers tray and a girl is standing nearby wearing one huge earring and no shoes and beginning to cry.
Back in the kitchen, Sandro begins speaking rapid italian to a line cook. The two confer seriously and with much gesticulation - Sandro, who is still holding doxie on his tray, is waiving her around wildly while he describes Signorina Daphne’s latest antics to the growing crowd of cooks. She skitters from one edge of the tray to the other, literally surfing the emotional waves of the conversation.
The cooks respond in similar fashion, brandishing their raised knives and spatulas - and in one’s case - a leg of lamb - in agreement with Sandro’s opinion of Daphne’s puppy-parenting skills.
Doxie tries to follow along but her italian is rusty and she is distracted by the proximity of the raw lamb leg. Suddenly Sandro has scooped her off the tray and is headed out a back door out into the sunshine.
“We are escaped Principessa!” he announces to her as he places her on his shoulder and begins descending a narrow flight of stone stairs carved into the cliffs. “We are a going to have a great a day! Princepessa, I want you to be a meeting my nephew, Fabrizio!”
Sandro weaves deflty down the narrow stairs and leads Doxie to a fishing boat tied up in a small harbor she has never seen before. He sets her down on the warm stone and strides ahead of her shouting “Fab! Fabrizio! Dove Siete Fabrizio?”
And suddenly, a dachshund boy pops his head over the side of the boat. Fabrizio the nephew is a dachshund just like her!
Doxie stares at him. He is so handsome! His dark nose is smudged with fish guts but she can tell he has excellent bone structure. He hops up out of the boat and onto the cliff easily, showing off his strong legs and exuberantly wagging tail and gallops toward Sandro and then toward Doxie exclaiming “Ciao Belllaaaa” with great admiration.
Sandro watches as the two become acquainted, smiling to himself at the first moments of new love and without sound he backs up the stone stairs and disappears off to the kitchen again.