Friday, May 13, 2005

Ciao, ragazza

Across Rome, doors are slamming. Red-faced and baffled, women are muttering Romani! as they scurry off the streets, seeking sanctuary from an onslaught of pick-up lines. It's spring. It has been for weeks. But the weather is now warm enough for springtime attire. And the sight of a little extra leg, a hint of tan line has stirred the primal and the perverse in the men of Rome.

I never tire of hearing women retell their latest encounter with wouldbe Roman suitors. When Cristina was living in the center of Rome, her local butcher would plead with her to take him home, allow him to cook her dinner. He's a fabulous cook, and his wife, gesturing to the unpleasant woman in the back of the shop, no longer appreciates his genius, he'd deliver with a let's-sail-around-the-world-together wink. To Xtina's sister, the same butcher enquired once: why only three slices of salami? Lonely? Do you want company?

The best story of this season goes to my friend Lara, a tall, elegant Audrey Hepburn-esque woman hailing from Bologna. The other day while driving her motorino through the center of Rome, a young man on his motorino pulls up alongside her at a traffic light. While waiting for the light to change, he turns to Lara and breaks the ice. Nice stockings, he purrs over the hum of the engine. Lara thankfully doesn't need to consider this for too long. The light flashes green. She's off. Heading into Piazza Venezia now, another red light. And again, Casanova pulls up alongside. More casually now, he pounces. Would you be interested in a foot massage OR a cup of coffee?

A day later, Lara is now retelling the story to a table full of friends. (Italians born elsewhere find Romans to be a strange life form, and thus discuss them incessantly as if hoping to sum up a sociology experiment long abandoned.) Heads shake. Why stockings? Why foot massage? Why coffee? Why foot massage OR coffee? Why? Why? Why?

I hate to admit it, but I think this young mystery man made an impression.

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