It’s that time of year again. Today begins the Old Soldier’s favorite street festival. It’s the Little Italy Days Festival in Bloomfield.
I just came back from Little Italy. The vendors are setting up their stands. The festival runs 21, 22, 23 and the 24th of this month. It’s a family friendly festival. Later today or tomorrow Liberty Avenue will be blocked off to motor traffic from Millvale Avenue to Ella Street.
The festival has been running now for several years. I’ve attended the festival several times and I plan to be at this year’s festival, too. As a matter of fact, the festival inspired me to write a story about it. I wrote the following story several years ago; but it should give you a pretty good idea of what the festival will be like this year.
This is the Old Soldier (I served in Vietnam) reporting for the PittsburghFlashFiction.
La Dolce Vita
Bloomfield is a neighborhood in Pittsburgh. Because of the large number of people of Italian heritage living in the neighborhood, Bloomfield is known as “Little Italy.” For three days every year during the nice weather a food festival is held.
Food booths line both sides of Liberty Avenue. The smell of hot sausages, green peppers and onions and many kinds of pastas and their sauces cooking fill the air. There are also stands cooking and grilling non-Italian foods like Chinese fried rice with beef, shrimp and chicken and all kinds of egg rolls. Other food stands serve gyros, shish kabob, humus, ribs, kielbasa, hamburgers, hot dogs and chicken. There are many stands that sell things a customer cannot eat but the things are nice to buy.
The songs of Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin issue from large speakers. The crowds flow leisurely back and forth. The crowds are made up of people of many different ethnic backgrounds. Adults push babies in baby carriages. At different times during the day musicians and singers perform on a stage setup on a blocked-off side street. Sometimes the singers sing in Italian. Above the heads of the crowds, on flag poles up and down the avenue, the red, white and green bars of the Italian flag snaps in the breeze.
Brad Wilson was happy. He was happy because Kristin Clayton walked beside him. He’d known her for more than a year and now they were both sophomores at the University of Pittsburgh; but this was the first time he’d actually asked her out. He was pretty sure she liked him. They’d spent a lot of time together freshman year with mutual friends but this was the first time he’d actually asked her out just by herself.
“Brad, look,” Kristin said. “Smoothies.”
“I love smoothies.”
They waited in line and he bought two from the woman behind the stand and gave one to Kristin.
“Thank, you,” she said.
The two continued slowly strolling with the crowd.
She said, “It’s good.” She smiled up at him.
“It is good.”
They kept strolling. Overhead, the flag of Italy snapped in the warm breeze. Brad was working on his courage.
“Ah, Kristin?” he said.
“Hummmmmmmm?” She was watching the sights.
“Ah, well, see I was thinking. I mean maybe…Well I really like you and, ah, we’ve known each other for more than a year now and like I was thinking maybe you would like to be my girlfriend.”
She stopped walking and looked at him. He could see she was confused.
He said, “I mean no pressure. I mean we’re really good friends and that’s…I really like us being good friends. I like doing things together.” He thought, that was weak. Man, that was so lame.
In silence they strolled on. He thought, think of something to say. Quick, think of something to say.
Kristin, concentrating on her smoothie, said, “I was kind of hoping that I was your girlfriend.”