In Italy, let alone the south of Italy, one never knows where the trash comes from. Only that it somehow has to be related to something sinister–specifically the Camorra. Some residents, however, would prefer to remain jejune about the reality that everything trash-related leads back to these mafiosi, born for the sole purpose, apparently, of disposing of trash in a non-environmentally friendly way. For Marialba DiNotte, a nineteen-year-old who still believed in Italy and Catholicism, taking care of the shoreline at Lido di Licola was one of the top priorities in her life–other than her boyfriend, Santo Maurono, a twenty-five year old who was surprisingly age appropriate considering the demographic most Italian men seek out. To be sure, Santo was cheating on her with multiple other women any given week–that was simply what needed to be done to comply with Marialba’s whole “no sex before marriage” rule. A blow job now and again, sure. If it was his birthday or their anniversary. But a man can’t live on blow job bread crumbs alone. What’s more, Marialba seemed more consumed than ever with her Licola Mare Clean Association activities, the end of the summer seeing a spike in the amount of refuse that found its way to the shore.
When Santo demanded that she cut back on her volunteering so that they could take the trip to Gallipoli they had been planning since May, she couldn’t bring herself to consent. “No Santo. I can’t. The association needs me more than ever now. I wouldn’t feel right about leaving.” Santo was starting to wonder why he put up with her puritanical do-gooder bullshit. Couldn’t she see that it was all pointless? Southern Italy was one giant landfill–there was no amount of cleanup that could alter the fact of the matter. The Camorra was the embodiment of a wolf that chews off its own leg to survive. And it would destroy the very region it thrived in to make money beautifying other parts of the nation, specifically the north.
Marialba was perhaps still too young and naive to allow herself to see the truth–bald and unbridled. Santo had tolerated her artlessness for this long because, well, she was beautiful, and the feel of her bare body against his when she allowed it made him forget about her often vexing innocence. This latest caprice about cancelling their getaway, however, made him realize that he had to end it. She was nothing more than a killjoy and a bore. There was a reason Eve left paradise, too: Adam was no fun. The same went for Marialba as far as Santo was concerned. So one Tuesday afternoon, he went to find her on the beach. She was in the thick of picking up a flattened Parmalat carton of pineapple juice when he walked up to her. One of her fellow volunteers, a middle-aged woman who, Santo imagined, had been abandoned by her husband and children and therefore had nothing better to do with her time, came up to Marialba just as Santo did, shouting, “Marialba, there’s a dozen dildos on the shore over there! We have to keep the children from seeing!”
Marialba barely acknowledged Santo upon the receipt of this tragic news. The Camorra had crossed a line now, subjecting young kids–especially girls–to the sight of something so impure. Marialba herself had never seen a vibrator in real life–where would she have? There were no sex shops in the small town she lived in on the outskirts of Naples. And she would certainly never deign to “pleasure” herself in that way. Sex was not meant to be pleasurable, merely a byproduct of having children. She felt as though she might cry when she approached the scene of the crime. How could they do this? she thought, at last forced to reckon with the very real possibility that the Camorra was to blame–it was too much of a bizarre form of trash for them not to be involved.
Wiping away a tear, she turned to Santo and said, “Can you help me pick these up? I don’t want to touch them.”
Santo sighed and consented, feeling vaguely homosexual as he removed the dildos with a gloved hand. Why did she have to be so fucking dainty about the affair? What was the big dil(do) if a few kids caught sight of them? They ought to learn about sex early on–about the desperation of getting it, and where that desperation can lead. Santo had always thought women who used vibrators were pathetic; what, they couldn’t get an orgasm from a real man because they were frigid or something? He muttered this thought aloud to himself as he picked up the last one.
“What did you say?” Marialba asked.
He snapped, “Nothing. Okay? Here’s your fucking dildos!” he said, tossing them all at her at once. “Maybe they can teach you something about sex.”
With that, he stalked off the beach, leaving Marialba and her stunned cohorts to process his seemingly out-of-nowhere rage. Shamed by the very literal flogging, Marialba, holding back her emotions, resumed depositing the vibrators into her trash bag. Meanwhile, news of the finding had spread quickly and prompted the beach to close to the public for the day. “We can’t risk these, um, items getting into the hands–or worse–of children,” one government official of the comune stated. To ensure that no youth would fall prey to such a sight, the Licola Mare Clean Association was asked to work double-time to do a thorough sweep of the entire beach.
Marialba, finding herself at one point alone near a congregation of partitioning rocks, unearthed another dozen wedged into the sand. As she shook her head in exasperation, curiosity suddenly got the better of her. She dropped the dildo she had been in the midst of picking up and sat down next to it. Maybe Santo was right. Maybe she did need to learn about sex somehow. And this could be a very overt segno di dio. And so, taking a deep breath, Marialba closed her eyes. She picked up the dildo to see if it still turned on. Miraculously and as if to prove God’s involvement, it did. This was it. She could get Santo back if she ethically popped her cherry.
Placing the vibrator atop her labia there among the rock partitions of her sudden outdoor boudoir, Marialba experienced divinity that day on the beach.