Naples:life,death &
                Miracle contact: Jeff Matthews

entry Jan 2007                                   

he Little Choo-Choo that Needed a Dictionary


Boy, is my face red. Or at least that part of my head encased above and behind my face wherein reside various linguistic areas such as Broca's Area, Wernicke's Area, and Laurel & Hardy's Area—the parts that made me think I knew the meaning of the verb inaugurare in Italian.

Don't look it up. Take my word that it means precisely, one-to-one and dead on— "inaugurate." As in, "The new train line was inaugurated yesterday." I read that the other day in the local fish wrapper that carries notes of great import, even export if the notes are exportant enough. Heck, it was even on television, and they don't lie.

Thus, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, here are the various interpretations for the "The train was inaugurated yesterday":

1. The train was admitted to or inducted into an office or position by a formal ceremony. On a scale of 1 to 10, this gets a minus 6;

2. The train was invested with a sacred character. Much better. Maybe a zero;

3. The train was made auspicious. I don't know what that means. Your call;

The train began with "good omens." This from the original meaning of "augur," a Roman official who predicted the future in accordance with omens derived from the flight of birds, such as the pigeons that "inaugurate" my car every morning from their perch directly above my parking space. "Begin" is the operative verb, here. Getting close. Six, maybe seven;

The train was put into public use. HAH! Two-hundred and seven!

The upside-down Metro sign—the international
distress sign for unhappy passengers

"Put into public use!" Nowhere does it say anything about "inauguration" being a meaningless photo-op for the president of the Campania region and the Prime Minister of Italy just to show up, cut the ribbon, and then toddle off back to the public truffle-trough. That's what happened. I got my camera and went off to ride the new Line 6 of the Naples Metro, rapid rail service from Mergellina to Fuorigrotta. This is the so-called Rapid Tram Line that was supposed to be finished in time for upcoming World Cup matches —in 1990! Well, the matches upcame and upwent and the train ran into Brobdingnagian mismanagement and corruption. I use "Brobdingnagian" instead of "gigantic" because if I get beaten up for saying all this, I want it to be by well-read thugs. The train never got under the ground. It stalled until the recent plan to incorporate it into the new Metro line in Naples.

So, I got to the station and the polite young policewoman keeping back the throng (of one) kindly told me that "They cut the ribbon and left so the workmen could finish. They just wanted to see if the thing really runs." Apparently, it does, but the stations won't be ready until the summer. [Hurray update!]

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