It's been a long time since I had no idea what the New York Mets were up to. Sure, there's been a game here and a game there that saw me nod off in the middle innings or when it was the 12th with no end in sight, games that left me to wake up the next morning wondering what happened. But that was easy enough to repair — just pad on over to the other room and pull up My Yahoo.
This is different. I'm in a Mets-free world. We're coming to the end of three days in Milan, and staying in a hotel on the outskirts of town, in what is basically a forlorn office park. The hotel itself is more like a slightly upscale hostel. It has Internet access, but getting it is mind-boggling: Scratch off a card, enter an ID, put your cellphone number in the Web form, get an SMS message on your phone, enter that as your password. This, I suppose, is the Italian urge to make straightforward things extremely complicated. I mean, really. Why not have the password delivered by carrier pigeon, or materialize in the entrails of a spring lamb? My cellphone is currently a borrowed one with a SIM card bought in London. My phone number? That remains somewhat theoretical. I managed to send Emily text messages, but neither her replies nor that password ever showed up in return. Some combination of the UK code minus the London prefix plus or minus a zero would do the trick, but only if you are much smarter than I am. I fussed with the card for a while, fussed with the front desk, and then gave up. (Besides, not to be disloyal, but staying up until 4 a.m. was kind of messing with my ability to be a decent employee, which is why I'm over here.) No Net. No Mets.
Yesterday morning the colleagues with Blackberrys (which between the nervous editors and IT guys would be everybody else) gave me the crushing news of Miami Part 1. This morning, though, is our free day. No info. So I went to Venice.
I didn't have to go that far — they have Internet cafes in Milan. But I wasn't inclined to spend my free day in Milan, which has some nice things but is fairly unlovely overall — there's the Duomo and a lot of buildings that have that important, stolid Federal Reserve look, but otherwise it's a gritty, working town rather than a tourist spot. There was Lake Como, where I could hobnob with George Clooney and act out stilted dialogue from Attack of the Clones, but tomorrow we'll be in Lausanne, which I'm told looks somewhat similar. Venice was three hours away by train — far, but I've spent 38 years on Earth without ever seeing it, so who can guarantee I'll get another chance? And there's the whole global-warming thing.
I'm happy I got up and navigated the train system with the minimum competence required. Because Venice is soooo worth it. Every street is interesting. I've been here about three hours, and you do not get tired of walking over bridges or darting down little calles or just looking at colorful houses next to canals and wondering what it would be like to live there.
But until I got to this Net cafe, Venice brought me no closer to the Mets. Instead, I was left fussing and worrying and trying to extract portents from random sightings: There's a cat sitting on that railing above the canal! Right in my view from lunch! I like cats! Greg Prince loves cats! The Mets must have won!
And hey, they did. On the other hand, if the cat had plunged into the canal, I suppose I could have just written off October. And maybe followed my furry messenger to the bottom of the Adriatic.