A Mean Leaning Ringing Machine
It all started with the widow Berta of Bernardo of dell?Opera di Santa Maria who had a dream one night in 1172 AD, or at least, a dream according to friends and relations, but not to Berta. No sir, according to Berta, her dead husband Mr. Bernardo (aka Bernie) came to her one night with much concern and worry creasing the lines of rotted flesh and matted hair on what was left of his head. In a raspish voice he commanded: "Build a tower!" and then stared off somewhere between here and there with half empty eye sockets.
Berta thought about this for a moment, keeping her eyes on the floor and away from the remnants of her dearly departed’s mostly departed eye-stuff. Hmmm. Yes, build a tower. Hmmm. And then she looked up, with much confusion shadowing her countenance, and asked stridently: "What you say? Build a tower? What I wanna go build a tower? You binna dead too long."
Bernie rolled what was left of his eyes and repeated: "Build a tower!"
However, as it was throughout their marriage, and even now in widowhood, Berta was not one to be told what to do by anyone, least of all Bernie, who couldn?t even muster the energy to live as long as her, and she wasn?t having any of this tower business.
"What you just stand there an-a say ?build a tower for?? I?m-a look like crazy woman to you? Is-a what you think? I?m a crazy woman? Why you think I wanna build a tower?"
Bernie’s hands were shaking; his remaining strands of grayish white skin darkened with whatever terrible pigmentation the dead use for darkening; he lifted his head and arms up towards the sky in a gesture of I-told-you-so. Then he cast the remnants of his gaze directly at Berta. "You gonna build a tower, or I?m-a gonna tell every one up there all about your snore so loud at night."
Just before she died in 1172 AD, the widow Berta of Bernardo of dell?Opera di Santa Maria amended her will to bequeath sixty coins to the Opera Campanilis petrarum Sancte Marie to buy a few stones for the building of a tower.
Those stones would eventually form the foundation of one of the most beautiful buildings on earth; also, one of the oddest. The tower was to compliment the cathedral in Pisa which was located in the "Field of Miracles" in the downtown area. What would happen to the "Torre Pendente di Pisa" (aka Bell Tower of Pisa) would indeed be a miracle.
The original architect, Bonanno Pisano, was reputed to dabble in bronze and foundries, and was, in many historical accounts, voted least likely to succeed at building a tower. But history aside, Bonnano Pisano began construction of the tower on August 9, 1173, and everything went just fine until about the third stone from the left into the third floor, at which time the builders noticed that the tower-to-be was no longer performing to specs. In fact, it was beginning to lean prominently to the north.
The experts came in and hummed and hawed and concluded: "You build a tower on-a marshy soil an-a big hole ? it’s-a gonna lean."
Which, of course, was completely wrong, the truth being that the now deceased widow Berta of Bernardo found out that Bernie had already told everybody "up there" all-about-her-snore-so-loud-at-night, and she was pissed ? so pissed that she came all the way back down from "up there" and kicked the living daylights out of certain key stones in the tower’s foundation. "It’s-a gonna point to Hell, where the old bastard should-a burn his big-a-mouth ass off!" She kicked and she kicked and she kicked all night, and when she was sure that certain key stones were sufficiently weakened to tumble the tower by the time it got to the third stone from the left into the third floor, she went back "up there" and waited smugly for Bernie to hear the news of his tower in a hundred years or so.
But a hundred years later, the tower was still standing - leaning, but standing - and the widow Berta of Bernardo visited the foundation again. And again, she kicked and she kicked and she kicked all night, and when she was sure that certain key stones were sufficiently weakened to tumble the tower, she went back "up there" and waited again for the news.
But for all the wrathful widow’s heroic kicking effort, the tower instead of tumbling did an about face and started leaning to the south. Now the widow Berta of Bernardo was pissed enough to fry eggs on her forehead, so pissed, in fact, that it wasn?t until 1934, nearly eight hundred years after the first stone was laid that Berta cooled down enough that she could float down from "up there" and have at the tower one more time.
Unfortunately, for the widow Berta of Bernardo, a group of Save The Tower fanatics picked this particular year to shore up the tower’s sagging foundation with concrete. The concrete was actually drying as the widow kicked and kicked and kicked, and though she managed to increase the lean, by the time she ran out of kick, the concrete dried and solidified and the tower just hung there, a little more to the south. Nobody, of course, was aware of the widow Berta of Bernardo’s kicking rampage, so the Save The Tower fanatics, instead of being up to their ears in kudos for saving the tower, were actually blamed for making it lean even more.
The tower still stands today. It still leans. And all the elaborate plans devised by all the elaborate minds to stop the lean from eventually reaching the ninety degree level in a pile of rubble have proved about as practical as tilting the entire city to straighten the tower (which, of course, would create a new puzzle for elaborate minds ? how to straighten the Leaning Town of Pisa while keeping the tower straight).
On the other hand, if the tower had been built straight in the first place, the universe would have ended eight hundred years ago.