Fezzik In Paris

Two Americans, three cats, and too many places named "de Gaulle"

This is the story of a joke that went too far.

And scope creep.

But the root cause analysis would probably point towards that joke gone awry.

In the beginning there was a lion. Orange, with a sparkly nose, and stout-though-satiny wings, we acquired Marco when we visited Venice in November.

Subsequent to the lion, there was the rattiness. Owing to his packability, we did what sane adults otherwise do not do, and started carrying Marco around so we could take pictures of him in front of various landmarks. One could say that it’s cliché, but one would be welcome to go fuck oneself, since we enjoy it. Carrying Marco around (even in the nylon pull-string bag we designated as Marco-only) has led to discussions regarding the texture of his fur, as well as color. The Purrito maintains that Marco is not aging at all. I am of the opinion that Marco, henceforth known as Marco Basileus (yes, this is probably reversed. I care. Honest.), is ratty.

Then came the joke. The original idea – fly in to Marco Polo and then fly right back out after stopping at the World of Venice shop (which we believed to offer Marcos, though this was at the time unconfirmed) – was high-risk enough to be both funny and unlikely; it would have had to take place over a weekend, and weekends are off-limits for activities due to their status as our designated “together time.”

A major piece of the still-nascent plan solidified when the Purrito set the dates for her biannual trip back to Houston in mid-February; this meant that one of our weekends together would not be sacrificed. Critically, it also cemented the fact that I would be the one making the lunatic run for additional lions (and, in truth, I went to Venice to buy more lions is one hell of a lot funnier than I sent my wife to Venice to buy more lions). We now had the person (your humble disciple of Baudolino) and the date (18 and 19 February).

My trip planning was half-assed (though the later daydreaming was, oddly enough, quite a bit of fun). I have no doubt that the Purrito would testify to the sometimes-obnoxious degree of overplanning I am wont to subject things to, but there is something about the logistics of travel planning that is different, something that I loathe, something that makes attempting to if not control then anticipate all of the moving pieces absolutely miserable. I knew that if I was going to go, I was going to have to say fuck it, hit whatever confirmation button was on the screen, and then hope for the best. Having looked briefly on Expedia, I saw that most everything was unexpectedly expensive, though I ignored a nagging question in the back of my mind and decided against checking a calendar. I also noticed that staying two nights was effectively neutral from a cost standpoint; further, it made more sense to have the second night to pack my theoretical pride of Marcos and, perhaps more importantly, it would afford me the ability to wander around Venice once more without having to worry about closely timing travel intervals or worrying about when I would have to leave for the airport.

Deterred by the prices, I was about to walk away from the entire scheme when I rememebred that I was sitting on a mountain of AmEx rewards points. Never having used the site, I searched for a hotel somewhere in the vicinity of Saint-Mark’s, looked at the point cost, said fuck it, at that amount it can’t be any worse than the last Venetian hotel in which we stayed (which, in truth, was somewhat hilariously awful but ultimately bearable due to its location), and dared myself to hit the confirm button.

It was not until a couple of days before leaving that I went back and looked up both the name of the hotel and it’s actual location (as it turns out, I had confused the one that I booked with one that I was looking at on Expedia). A few days prior, I had discovered the reason for the relatively unpleasant remaining flight times, why the hotels seemed to be largely booked, and why this trip was not going to be a repeat of the quiet stay we had in November.

This is how I wound up in Venice’s Hotel Danieli (they even upgraded me to a double room in the nicer part; odd, since I’d booked a lowly single room) during carnival, with a primary mission of purchasing plush lions. All sans the Purrito.


In the epoch before the joke became reality, we were (undoubtedly inebriatedly) speculating as to how many Marcos would be required for the trip to be worthwhile. Clearly, bringing back a single spare Marco was ludicrous given the effort involved, which led me to laughingly declare that no fewer than four Marcos would be acceptable.

It is probably fitting then, that I came back with seven.

The original plan of buy Marcos from Fondaco dei Tedeschi and then move on with wandering became buy a Marco wherever I see one after I spotted one in the window of a still-closed shop on while on my way to Frari church (he would become Marco 5). From that point, it became a game of going to stores which were listed as stocking Marco, as I was wandering in and out of parts of Venice that we hadn’t seen, and in which I probably would have not otherwise ventured. I actually intended to stop acquiring the lions after Marco number 5, but the shopkeeper of another Marco-containing store offered me a discount when he saw me pick up one of the Marcos he had on display as he was wrapping a present that I purchased for the Purrito. I bought Marco 7 from the airport because when one has already bought six plush lions, there is zero marginal decline in perceived sanity should one decide to purchase a  seventh (thus spake the Purrito when I told her of the prior day’s haul).


What am I going to do with seven Marcos?

I don’t know. I could give a couple of them to people, but…

  • Marco 5 (purchased at Magoga) is mine, as he accompanied me (and the companion to the Purrito’s puppet) to the Venetian arsenal, the ship pavilion, and the lovely interlude spent sitting in front of the gondola dock waiting for the Festa della Marie to pass by;
  • Marco 6 is the Purrito’s, as he was the one that I bought after the merchant offered the discount on account of the gift;
  • Marco 7 is the spare for Marco prime (he was rescued from an airport. The lion deserves our sympathy);
  • Marcos 1-4, the original batch from Fondacco, are now a familial unit in my mind, so breaking these siblings up would be cruel.

Writing all of this down makes the adventure seem markedly less sane

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