This entry brings me to the other memorable tour guide: the good tour guide. I have had a few of these as well. One great thing about the best tour guides is that they feel like your Italian Mama, your pediatrician, your mechanic, and Mary Poppins all rolled into one.
We had a particularly excellent tour guide in Europe. Her name was Telli. She was a perfect mix of the mother in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”, and Mrs. Doubtfire. Someone on the tour said, “I’ve never heard someone talk so much yet say so little.” She was never not-talking, and she seemed to know nothing and everything at the same time. She was a riot. She was always in a flurry – sashaying in – her broad curves filling doorways. I called her descriptions of locations “Telli-speak.” For example: “billions of people will be at the Vatican today,” “The Isle of Capri is the center of the world.”
Telli probably could have orchestrated the Apollo space mission. Even though she always seemed like a tousled bird, she always had our papers in order and ready when we needed them. Oh, and did I mention she had a great crush on my grandpa? Her eyes became as big as moons whenever Gaicomo Puccini walked in the room. My grandma graciously smiled and scooted him past her.
One day, my Aunt woke up with horrible, swollen red legs. Her inflamed ankles hurt so badly she could barely walk. So she showed them to Telli. “Oh, dis ees nothing,” said Telli, in her almost Swedish, almost Italian accent. “My moder was, em, what dey call? A boosh doctor.” Her mother was a Swedish bush doctor in India. We looked at her skeptically. “You poot your feet in da beday. Den you run de water. Ten minutes cold, ten minutes hot. Den you poot your feet up on pillows for tirty minutes. Dis is okie dokie.”
My aunt followed her advice, and her feet were cured by lunchtime. “I am beginning to believe Telli has mystical powers,” my aunt whispered to me. Sure enough, we began to try her other tricks: olive oil to make your hair shiny, saliva to stop bug bites from itching. They all worked!
Not only did our fabulously eccentric tour guide lead us gaily through Europe, she also changed our health regimens forever. All you need is a little bit of olive oil, tomato, and Telli dust.