A NIGHT IN NEW YORK - Part 3
Renzo looked on several street corners for drug dealers, but he didn't find anyone. He remembered two recent occasions when things had been different:
In the first case, Renzo noticed that a woman was being followed by three suspects. The woman was visibly drunk, carrying a few bags of clothes. Renzo began to accompany them from a distance; when the woman changed sidewalks, the guys followed her. Renzo quickened his pace and approached, facing the harassers: “Are you looking for something?” The guys stopped. Supporting the woman, Renzo called a taxi, put her in the vehicle, gave the driver a $100 bill and told him to leave the girl at home. Then he turned to the marginals who were watching him: “NOT today!”, he said firmly. The three hesitated for a moment; then they walked away.
The other memory concerned a homosexual boy who was about to be attacked by two men who were cursing him violently. Renzo noticed that the boy was crying. He stopped in front of them. “That's not your problem!”, said one of the attackers. “It's not – YET. But it will be, if you lay a finger on this boy.” The two guys approached Renzo. "It's that Brazilian fighter...", one whispered to the other, and they both backed away. Renzo took the boy's hand and escorted him to a safe place, away from the attackers.
But that August night, there was no altercation.
Temporarily satisfied, Renzo walked back to his car and started the drive toward his home in New Jersey, 45 minutes away. Over the stereo, Frank Sinatra's voice would accompany him on the way:
"Fly me to the moon
Let me play among the stars
Let me see what spring is like
On Jupiter and Mars"
His fascination with Sinatra arose from the moment he arrived in NY: one side of his personality liked to be, like Old Blue Eyes, an attentive boss, surrounded by a staff made up of the dozens of people who worked in his businesses. Caring for people was an important part of his life and he didn't feel this as a burden: “I want people to shine. If you're with me, you'll shine – even if I have to force you to!”
"Fill my heart with song
And let me sing for ever more
You are all I long for
All I worship and adore"
Renzo would get three to four hours of sleep that night. At 7:30am he would resume his very tough daily training, which involved long-distance running, weight training and endless Jiu-Jitsu sessions with much younger partners, faced in sequence.
That night was a synthesis of Renzo's ethics: generosity with others, strictness with himself. Rigor – which is more than the notion of discipline that relates to athletes. Renzo was not disciplined, he was strict. Intensely rigorous.
"In other words, please be true"
RENZO: I just hope that death, when it comes, will be a woman... Because I'll want a kiss before I go!
Alone behind the wheel of his car, he smiled before singing, along with Sinatra, the last verse of “Fly Me to the Moon”, while cruising at 80 mph the dark roads that separated him from his home – a frank smile, so characteristic, that it translated his entire attitude towards life.