When Shalom, the Jewish, Italian monthly I work for, called me up last week and told me I had to drive up to New York City to run around with the Mayor of Rome Gianni Alemanno during his meetings with ex-Mayor Giuliani and current Mayor Bloomberg and take pictures of him, never would I have imagined I was going to rock climb with him in a gym in Times Square.
Well, that was before I spoke my peace about having lived in Boulder, CO for five years and having learned how to rock climb there and yada, yada, yada. Well, little did I know, the Mayor took me seriously when I said it would be nice to see if there was a gym in NYC where we could go and hit “some plastic.” So, later that night I got a text at 10:45pm on Tuesday night from his Press Secretary telling me whether or not I was in or out for some climbing at 7:40 am on West 43rd Street in Manhattan. We had to make it not longer than 1:30 coz the Mayor had to meet with the NYPD at Ground Zero at 11 am.
Considering I had already talked to him about visiting Colorado and the Rockies, how could I have said NO to that invitation? And in fact I didn’t. I set my alarm form 6 am, and at 7 am sharp I was there to set up before the Mayor’s arrival, which, unfortunately, happened on Italian time with 40 min delay. But, oh well. You do not get to climb with the Mayor of your hometown everyday, so I let it slide and gave him a chocked-up hand shake as a “good morning” gesture and we were on our way for some 5.6 warm-ups.
After few runs on some easy stuff, the gym Manager and I thought it was time to step it up a little, so we told the Mayor to try some overhanging 5.8 with a little roof toward the top. And, I am impressed to say, he held its own on that route and he did not give up so easily. He actually spent a whole 20 minutes on it even if his hands were giving in and his secretary was calling him to get off the wall for a phone call from Rome.
Anyhow, the whole experience was hilarious and definitely not what I foresaw when the day before we (photographers and reporters) followed him from office building to taxis to more office buildings to a museum and even held a press conferences on a side walk in the middle of the busy streets.
I guess, all I have to add is, may the next time be in Rome since the Mayor is opening a 10 meter wall in his gym on August 1 and he invited me to join him for some more fun there when I am around. This time, though, I might leave my camera behind and just bring my climbing shoes.