Yesterday I was in front of the Castle San Angelo, at the Bridge of Angles. I had to lean over to look down to the water’s edge. A few hours earlier that morning, Nico showed me a sharp, large black and white photo, about eleven by seventeen inches, that was taken there in the sand below the end of the bridge. I had recognized part of the bridge and the castle in the background. The date hand written in old style script on the photo - 1930. The photo features a line of ten or so pals, caught happily during a break in their reverie - eighty-one years ago. Third from the left in the front row is the neat young sport Nico, age seventeen.
He had a career as a dancer. I have an old Paris publicity photo of him holding his then dance partner/wife high over his head with one hand, arm fully stretched.
Now, though old, he remains bright. His wit is apparent from the thoughts he speaks and his energy. Yes, I attribute his energy to his wit. He knows better than to be a drag or a drain. He is alive, nearly blind, yet amazing.
On any particular day he’ll be facing the other way talking to Marina, a ceramic artist shop keeper on our street. I’ll come up behind him and say suddenly in a disguised voice something unexpected like, “Ce vino qui?” (is there wino here?).
Nico will stop cold, hop around and say laughing, “Jack!”
He has the size and energy of a five foot tall high school freshman. What joy. I’ve had many older friends, but none like ninety-eight year old Nico. A man who exudes life and kindness. I’ve never known another like him.