Because of the magnitude of the bimillennium celebration, and various ecclesiastical festivities involving the Vatican at the end of this month, His Most Holiness had asked if I might appear a month early, for this year’s cleaning and detailing of Campagnolo’s 50th Anniversary Gruppo, Serial #002. After juggling my schedule, I flew to Rome and got down to business.

I noticed that last year’s satin, box lining restoration (done by Immaculate Conceptions of Paris), looked “cherry.” I was just finishing up a light chamois buff, when Monsignor returned from vespers, arm and arm with another clergyman who, I was shocked to notice, was smoking. “Father Guido Sh(censored)o,” the brimmed man said, with his arm outstretched, “And I’m so glad to finally make your acquaintance.”

I was dumbfounded. How could the Pope welcome this blasphemer into such a hallowed domain? My speech withdrew from my tongue, and I groped around my gum-line and soft pallet for something to emit. “Nice ring,” I finally stammered, to which his face alit, and he held the bejeweled band closer. I began to read the engraving around its bezel, when an icy shock hit me in the pit of my stomach, and made me drop to my knees. I was struggling to maintain some sort of semblance of decorum, when His Eminence, Himself, vocalized the inscription, “In Sh(censored)o We Trust - Have A New Day,” and He kissed the jewel. From behind His robe, He then most gleefully produced an aluminum presentation case, and opened it up to reveal the Dura-Ace 25th Anniversary Set, a gift to the reveling head of the Roman Catholic Church. I reeled backwards and collapsed into a blackness, drenched in terror I’ve hitherto never known.

“Has every last vestige of the sacred been destroyed? Have such prize ideals as Beauty, Art, and Spiritual Enlightenment become meaningless in the face of mass-marketing? Is the new religion of the 21st Century, nothing more than the brutal adherence to bottom-line conformity?” Then the blackness too, collapsed like the death of a star, and there was nothing left but the bone-crushing, oppressive, sheer weight of a Tullioless universe.   Tullio, has thou forsaken me? -Euro Freddie

<INDEX                                                 DECEMBER - 1999                                              NEXT>


Criterium Corner with Euro Freddie