Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Small talk with the big man

Lucky you! You've been invited to have an audience with the pope. What will you wear? Remember: dress conservatively. That's the easy part. Should you get close to the man, what then? How would you greet him? Get on one knee? Kiss the ring? And, how do you address the pope, anyhow? Your holyness seems so last millenium. Whatever you do, don't ask Italian first lady Franca Ciampi for a tip. Franca (wife of Italian Pres. Carlo Azeglio Ciampi) on Tuesday met with il Papa Benedetto XVI as part of an entourage that marked the first official visit between the neighboring heads of state. (Imagine if Brooklyn, a foreign nation of, well, mainly Italians, was a 1/4-mile closer to downtown Manhattan.)

When Benedetto and Franca met, there was that awkward hesitation all of us would dread. But like a true champ, Franca carried the moment, blurting out: "You've changed the curtains, Bravi!"

War, for now, has been averted.

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