Chapter 294: I never thought you were such an Inzaghi
The existence of the Mafia and the widespread popularity of two <The Godfather> movies had led to a fierce impression of the Italians for many. Actually, excluding the region of Sicily, most Italians were very easy to deal with.
During WWII, the allied forces had had it so easy capturing the Italian troops that it had felt numb, not possessing the joy and relish of victory at all.
They would even walk obediently into their POW camps and clearly report their own numbers.
As POWs in the North Africa battlefront, few soldiers had been needed to guard them. Of course, with such low vigilance, they had actually started an uprising inside a POW camp before, even having successfully escaped.
After escaping, the thousands of Italian POWs had run for a few dozen kilometres before, without being subject to any threat at all…joining another POW camp of their own volition.
Apparently, they had staged an uprising and fled only because they had heard that there was spaghetti to be had in this nearby POW camp, but none at their own…they had wanted to find someplace to stay in with better perks for them.
Be thankful to the Italians, for if not for Germany having such incompetent teammates, it would probably have been much harder for the allied troops to beat Hitler during WWII.
Xu Tingsheng found the address based on the Italian words that he had copied down on paper before smoothly and comfortably dealing with those two Italian dudes whom he was extremely familiar with, offering them some rigorous conditions precisely at their bottom lines and giving them time to consider things.
To the current them, breaking into the Chinese market was far more important than the current profit at hand.
Thus, Xu Tingsheng knew that they would definitely agree to the proposed conditions before he left the next day.
In order to exert pressure on them, Xu Tingsheng even deliberately got their people to bring him over to buy plane tickets to France for the very next day.
When Xu Tingsheng found Li Wan’er, she was already beginning to move her belongings on her own, her face stubborn as she ignored him and concentrated on moving her things downstairs…
Actually, Xu Tingsheng still didn’t understand at all how he had offended her.
Seeing that there seemed to be no way of asking about it now, Xu Tingsheng could only quieten down and diligently help to move her other stuff.
The new residence that Li Wan’er had found was not far away. It had virtually the same kind of architecture and rooms as it was in the exact same district, only two streets away.
Some people did not like having too much change in their lives. Li Wan’er was such a person.
Feeling rather worried about this, Xu Tingsheng inquired a number of times before Li Wan’er finally explained to him that after moving over, her route to both the tailor workshop and her school would have changed. If someone really did come, it would be impossible for them to intercept her on those streets that she used to walk.
Only then did Xu Tingsheng feel reassured.
Having stayed in Italy for six years, Li Wan’er had accumulated quite a number of things, especially fabrics and sketches. The two painstakingly moved these for nearly the entire afternoon.
When the last thing was set in an appropriate location, Li Wan’er told Xu Tingsheng that she had already contacted her teacher and would be resuming the work she had previously done.
If one were to say that settling Li Wan’er down in Milan was the timing that Xu Tingsheng had given himself to say farewell, now was actually the time.
There was no need to wait for tomorrow.
The room was so quiet one could hear a pin drop. Exhausted as they lay flopped back on the sofa, the two were both hesitating on how to speak up.
Xu Tingsheng said, “I…”
Li Wan’er sucked in a deep breath before exhaling, saying rather unnaturally, “Let’s have dinner together. After that, I’ll bring you around Milan…as for what remains, that can come afterwards.”
This time, it was Xu Tingsheng who misunderstood. He thought that Li Wan’er already knew that he was going to leave, understood what he was going to say.
After a moment’s hesitation, Xu Tingsheng said, “Alright.”
<The Last Supper> was kept at Milan’s Santa Maria Delle Grazie.
Li Wan’er brought Xu Tingsheng over to a restaurant not far away from the church.
Finally, Xu Tingsheng discovered that Italian cuisine was actually pretty good…
Seeing his constant amazed sighs as he ate, Li Wan’er could not help but ask him rather curiously, “Haven’t you ever eaten at a better restaurant over here before?”
Xu Tingsheng shook his head, “The main thing is that I don’t understand the menu.”
“What did you eat when you came to Italy before then?”
“McDonalds. That was what I ate for lunch just now.”
“…I’m thinking, what about if you went to France?”
“I went there before. Again, McDonalds.”
Here face having been gloomy that entire day, Li Wan’er finally laughed.
After dinner, Li Wan’er brought Xu Tingsheng in walking the flourishing streets of Milan. This might be the place in which she would be spending the rest of her life. She might still be here when she was forty, when she had turned old, yet she did not know if he would still be coming.
Just like most big cities, there were many tall buildings in the streets of Milan.
What was fortunate was that most of the buildings there were still built of stone. Coupled with the intricate furnishings, they still emanated an air of nobility and grandeur.
What truly let Italy live up to the name of the Renaissance was actually the churches. Having taught about it numerous times in class before in his previous life, Xu Tingsheng was greatly interested in this as he very much wanted to enter.
Yet, Li Wan’er who clearly had a copy of the Bible at home just refused to go in no matter what.
Xu Tingsheng was very bemused by this.
He asked about it, but Li Wan’er said nothing.
As he asked about it again, Li Wan’er said coldly, “I still don’t know if I will have to confess now.”
Then, Xu Tingsheng felt even more bemused.
The two walked for more than an hour and arrived at the famous Via Monte Napoleone street.
The architecture of Via Monte Napoleone was comparatively lower in height as the roads were narrower as well. Still, it was very beautiful as treading on the stone pavement, it felt as though one was walking in an elegant little street.
Of course, its greatest distinguishing feature was actually that it was expensive, very expensive.
The top fashion brands of the entire world were mostly all gathered here. In his previous life, Xu Tingsheng had hastily come over here once and confirmed that he was indeed very poor before going back empty-handed.
Now, he discovered that he was actually still too poor.
Of course, he was actually much better off than he had been the last time. If he was willing to bear the pinch, he would surely be able to bring back some high-end goods from Milan for his family and friends. Still, Xu Tingsheng did not plan on buying anything this time. He would still be overseas for a few days longer and did not wish to travel around with such heavy luggage.
Li Wan’er stubbornly insisted on buying a suit for Xu Tingsheng in the Armani store. After wearing it, Xu Tingsheng said ‘The one you made still seems better’, and only then did Li Wan’er no longer insist.
At that moment, she had originally been going to say, “I’ll make a few more for you then.”
Yet, thinking about what these words entailed, Li Wan’er stopped herself from saying it.
That night, Xu Tingsheng who had not been in very high spirits in the first place was made even more despondent by Li Wan’er’s strange mood. The two were silent throughout till he saw a car parking outside a high-end restaurant with someone getting off from it.
“The heck…Inzaghi! The heck…” Xu Tingsheng muttered to himself.
He was slightly dazed for a time before he excitedly yelled ‘Pippo, Pippo, Super Pippo…” at the top of his lungs while dashing over towards the entrance of the restaurant…
Inzaghi turned and glanced over before he smiled and entered the restaurant.
Xu Tingsheng was blocked by the burly attendant stationed at the entrance.
Whatever Xu Tingsheng said and gestured, the man would just point at his ears, smiling as he shook his head.
A panting Li Wan’er hurried over, putting a hand on Xu Tingsheng’s shoulder, “What’s with you?”
“Inzaghi…have you heard of him?” Xu Tingsheng asked.
Li Wan’er shook her head.
“…He’s actually living in Milan,” Xu Tingsheng sighed before surveying the area and pointing at a large advertisement on some tall building that portrayed Inzaghi, “That’s him. I really like him.”
“A football star?” Having asked Xu Tingsheng previously, Li Wan’er knew that a sizeable part of his impressions of Italy came from football.
“Right, a football superstar. An idol of mine.”
“…I say, why do you seem just like a little kid? Then now, you…”
“I want his autograph. Taking a photo together would be even better. So, can we go in and eat some more?”
Looking at Xu Tingsheng who suddenly seemed so childish, Li Wan’er could not help but smile rather dotingly as she turned and said a whole bunch of Italian to the attendant at the entrance…
“How is it?” Xu Tingsheng asked frantically.
Li Wan’er shook his head, “He says that you won’t be able to find that Inzaghi even if you go in. Also, the restaurant won’t allow other customers to interrupt his meal. That would be very rude.”
Xu Tingsheng thought about it for a moment, “I’ll wait here for a while then. All that walking was tiring, anyway. I’ll take it like I’m resting.”
“I’ll accompany you then,” Li Wan’er said.
The two found a bench and sat down a short distance away from the restaurant. They chatted as they waited on the bustling streets of Milan.
Perhaps what had just transpired with Xu Tingsheng’s childishness had alleviated much of Li Wan’er’s heavy mood and conflicted feelings as her mood had eased greatly, her eyes which were on Xu Tingsheng bearing a greater glow.
“I didn’t think that you would chase idols too. It felt very childish, not like you at all,” Li Wan’er smiled.
“It isn’t the same,” Xu Tingsheng explained, “Inzaghi and Henry, the main significance of these people for me, more than me liking their football, is actually that they are those who walk with me in the memories of my youth. When they get old and retire from football…that is also the time when I say goodbye to youth.”
In his excitement, Xu Tingsheng had actually let some things slip. Fortunately, these words could similarly be construed as him talking about the future.
Li Wan’er did not notice anything unusual as she smiled, “But you’re only twenty.”
Xu Tingsheng awoke with a start as he realised that there truly seemed to be no need for him to feel emotional at his departed youth. Twenty years old. He was currently at the peak of his youth, while Inzaghi and Henry were also running rampant in football just like before…
“When the time comes for me to bid my youth farewell again, how will I be then?” Xu Tingsheng wondered.
Li Wan’er interrupted his thoughts, “Do you play football too?”
Xu Tingsheng said, “Yes, I do.”
Li Wan’er asked, “Are you good?”
Xu Tingsheng said, “Of course.”
In order to prove that he really was good, Xu Tingsheng enthusiastically narrated to Li Wan’er his performance in Yanzhou University’s match against Jianhai Technological University, how mightily he had turned the tides with his own power. Hearing him endlessly chattering on in praising himself to the high heavens, seeing how triumphant and full of himself he looked…
Li Wan’er seemed to again be looking at that ‘hoodlum’ whom she found so difficult to forget, just him, that unreliable fella who was in no way at all related to a successful young magnate.
This ‘hoodlum’ was the Xu Tingsheng that Li Wan’er was truly unable to forget and unwilling to part with.
Because of this, when Xu Tingsheng suddenly discovered that he actually didn’t have anything for Inzaghi to sign and a pen too, Li Wan’er proposed, “I’ll buy these for you…relax, I’m very familiar with this place. And I know Italian too, so it’d be more convenient to ask around.”
Xu Tingsheng hesitated for a moment. It seemed that this was indeed the only method currently available to him. He still had to stay here and keep a lookout.
“Okay then. Help me to buy a pen for the autograph and also a Milan jersey with the red and black stripes, No.9. Just look around nearby. Never mind if you can’t find it, don’t go too far.”
Xu Tingsheng described the jersey he wanted to Li Wan’er before giving her some instructions.
Carefully listening to his words, Li Wan’er then got up, “Got it. Relax, I’ll be back in a jiffy.”
Seeing her hurrying off into the distant crowd, looking at her back profile and her footsteps, Xu Tingsheng suddenly felt that this wasn’t Li Wan’er. How was this like the 31-year-old Li Wan’er!
While Li Wan’er had said that she would be back in a jiffy, she was actually gone for quite some time.
Fortunately, right when Xu Tingsheng spied Inzaghi walking over through the glass door, Li Wan’er just happened to return, huffing and puffing as she stopped to catch her breath.
“Am, am I still in time?”
Li Wan’er breathlessly asked Xu Tingsheng as she handed him a pen and a paper bag.
“Yep, just in time. Thank you.”
Xu Tingsheng uncapped the pen and took out the jersey.
Then, he was stunned silly.
Yes, it was a jersey, it was No.9, it was striped. Yet, it was not red and black, but blue and black. This was not the No.9 jersey of AC Milan’s Inzaghi. It was the No.9 jersey of Inter Milan’s…Cruz.
Xu Tingsheng would actually be happy to have a jersey of Cruz’s. He didn’t have any specific leanings towards either of these two diehard rival football teams from Milan. His first football jersey had been an Inter Milan one, whereas he also liked AC Milan’s Inzaghi, Luiz, Costa…
The problem now was that even if Xu Tingsheng didn’t mind, it did not mean that Inzaghi wouldn’t mind. It would be impossible for Xu Tingsheng to hand him a jersey of his team’s diehard rival to sign, and it would also be impossible to think that he might actually sign this.
“What is it?” Seeing that Xu Tingsheng appeared slightly dazed, Li Wan’er asked.
In this already cold weather, her face was filled with sweat. Xu Tingsheng suddenly felt that he had really been a little too childish as he extended a hand to help her wipe it off. She retreated half a step back, evading this motion.
“It’s nothing,” Xu Tingsheng said rather awkwardly as he did not explain things to Li Wan’er.
She did not know anything about football in the first place, not knowing who Inzaghi was and which football team he was from. Although Xu Tingsheng had described it to her, perhaps she had really been unable to find a store selling AC Milan jerseys in the vicinity and had also been too frantic to think properly.
Perhaps she had asked about it from bystanders and been hoodwinked by some ‘Nerazzurri’…
“Did I buy the wrong one?” Li Wan’er asked.
“No, it’s the right one,” Xu Tingsheng firmly denied, shaking his head.
He did not wish for her to blame herself. At this point, it seemed like he should be the one blaming himself.
As Inzaghi left the restaurant, the fans gathered at the door surged over, shouting ‘Pippo, Pippo’ as they held out their notebooks and pens. Inzaghi smiled apologetically, just waving to them as he walked towards his car that was parked not far away.
He did not sign any of those notebooks at all.
Xu Tingsheng thought that he might as well just ask Inzaghi to sign the shirt that he was currently wearing. Still, Inzaghi might be in a rush to go on a date or something today as he seemed to have no intention of signing any autographs for his fans at all. Pippo was almost as famous for his romantic habits as the goals he scored.
On seeing this, Xu Tingsheng gave up on getting his autograph.
In actual fact, he had actually just been overcome by recklessness earlier. For football players and celebrities, however much he liked them, he would actually not be that crazed considering his mental age…watching the football player play football, listening to the singer sing his songs, contributing to the box office for those who acted in movies-that was already enough.
He just stood there, not moving an inch.
“Is that him? That…Inzaghi, Pippo?” Seeing that Xu Tingsheng was not moving, Li Wan’er asked.
“That’s right,” Xu Tingsheng nodded.
“Why’re you not going over then?”
“He doesn’t appear to have any intention of doing autographs today. Look, so many people and he hasn’t signed even one. It isn’t that important, actually. It was just a spur of the moment thing for me,” Xu Tingsheng said, pointing at the football fans who were now in the midst of dispersing helplessly.
Li Wan’er said, “We should still try. I know Italian. I’ll help you try.”
With that, she took the pen and jersey that Xu Tingsheng was holding, running over towards Inzaghi who had already opened the door of his car. She first yelled ‘Pippo’ like Xu Tingsheng had earlier before uttering some words in Italian.
Xu Tingsheng forced a smile, “Lucky that he doesn’t intend to sign autographs today. Otherwise, he’d surely be angered to death by that Inter Milan jersey.”
With that in mind, Xu Tingsheng did not call for Li Wan’er to stop as he just followed after her.
Then…inconceivably, Inzaghi who had already opened the car door stopped. Looking at his gradually dispersing fans as well as Li Wan’er who was standing a short distance away, he stopped in a very gentlemanly manner, smiled and nodded…before walking over to her.
The two conversed a little in Italian.
Xu Tingsheng saw Inzaghi receiving the pen from Li Wan’er…
Then, receiving the jersey, he clearly received a shock as he looked flabbergasted.
The two conversed some more in Italian.
“It doesn’t look like they’re arguing. It should be fine,” Xu Tingsheng thought, feeling a little like laughing.
Moments later, a scene which Xu Tingsheng would never have expected to see even in his wildest dreams played out. Inzaghi was looking left and right even as he signed on that Inter Milan jersey. This was a jersey of his rival team!
After signing his autograph, with a guilty conscience, Inzaghi vigilantly returned the jersey that was scrunched up into a ball and that pen to Li Wan’er. The two exchanged a few more words.
Then, he got on his car, waved and left.
“Did I buy the wrong jersey?” This was the first thing that Li Wan’er asked as she returned to Xu Tingsheng’s side.
“What, so you know?” Seeing Inzaghi’s autograph on an Inter Milan jersey, Xu Tingsheng didn’t know whether he should laugh or cry.
“He said so himself. He said that this is the jersey of an opposing team. He can help me to sign it, but he told me that I definitely can’t let anyone else see it.”
Xu Tingsheng began smiling, “He was telling the truth. You really can’t let anyone see this. This matter, how do I put it-it’s too inconceivable. He actually did sign it. Huh, what did you tell him?”
“I said that I come from the distant China. This may be the only chance I get to meet him,” Li Wan’er said.
“He’s a pretty good person then,” Xu Tingsheng said.
Li Wan’er shook her head.
Li Wan’e revealed a despondent expression, “After signing his autograph, he asked for my number…but I didn’t give it. I gave him my China number. He won’t be able to contact me.”
Xu Tingsheng did not know whether he should laugh or cry as he looked at the car as it vanished into the distance…
“I never thought you were such an Inzaghi. Hey, you really even signed that, even a jersey of your diehard city rivals. Your sister! No wonder there are reports on how much of a playboy you are in the news every other day.”
“This fella’s a real playboy. If you happen to meet him the next time, remember to stay far away,” Xu Tingsheng said.
Li Wan’er nodded earnestly, replying, “Yeah, okay.”