Lust in Translation Part 1 (by R)

desayuno-continental

I’ll have a continental… And I am not talking about breakfast.

This is one of a few posts on dating men from other cultures or countries…
WARNING: if you are sensitive about stereotyping or mild xenophobia, I would stop reading now. That being said, it is all in jest and I am very aware that most of these stereotypes are purely coincidental.

I recently posted about the amusing experiences I had in The Summer of Tinder. But TSOT (it should be a film) was actually triggered by an unfortunate relationship and then going on a date with one of the most cliche stereotypes of all…

This is the story of cliché numero uno, the Italian stallion

heart-pizza Now don’t get me wrong…I am a huge fan of Italy.
Pizza, delicious. Rome, my favourite city. Positano, my favourite beach.
Prosecco, far more delightful than champagne and much more wallet friendly.

The men, on the other hand, I have been wary of … Having been a regular visitor to Italy and being a long haired blonde, I have had mixed experiences with Italy’s menfolk.

Yes they are gorgeous and just my type, tall, dark and handsome (I defy anyone not to like this in a man… one of my housemates only goes for blondes with blue eyes…ridiculous borderline racist behaviour!) However, the charm it wears thin. From the moment you reach the airport, “Ciao, Bella!”, catcalls, wolf whistles and other animal type sounds … All of which adds to the fantasy of the passionate Italian man who will grab you by the waist, simultaneously serenading you whilst throwing you onto a gondola (No, just me??)

But the fact walking in an Italian city for a woman is like perpetually walking past a building site in England (Oiy,oiy!)… It is too much. It ruffles me, it reminds me that I am very English, in that restrained and distant way. On the one hand, I’m flattered, on the other I want to remind them of their manners and not to get me started on public displays of affection. (I did feel like the ultimate prude during one night time stroll in Rome)

Anyway, as is often the case, I had good intentions. Look at the nice Italian men whilst on holiday and stick to the good old, useless English ones at home. At least you know where you stand.

Oh, hindsight, you are a wonderful thing…
An evening out, rather merry…Dancing at a bar after a famous Bristol event (one of many, one of the reasons Bristol is such a great place to be single, young or anyone I guess…)
Meet a man. In fact meet several… I definitely remember telling someone from Cardiff that I didn’t like his aftershave. He affronted, naturally, tells me it is Armani, I claim it smells like ASDA’s own (And I wonder why I am single?….)

Then there is a lot of dancing. Hot and sweaty. At some point, the Italian appears. I remember this part clearly

Me: Are you SINGLE? (loudly to compete with the music)
He: YES

That is the most important part of the conversation… the rest is brief. Apparently I tell him his dancing is 6/10 (again my flirting style is criticising and spot on!). Eventually my housemates decide to give up dancing and go get some chips. I agree… and give the Italian my number, he’s Italian after all.

He has the same name as my mum. So when I do get a text, three days later, it takes a while to compute. He offers a language exchange. I dither… his text is written in quite broken English. Can I deal with a date as a translator? Is it even a date? Due to a recent very short fling and the need to get over it, I decide (with the persuasion of a friend and several G&Ts) to go for it …
The day of the date arrives. I go for a pre-drink with a work friend who warns me this could purely be a language exchange. I, savvy as I am, have already googled language exchange and have discovered this basically translates to HOOK UP. This is good news… am I going to discover what I have always wondered about Italians? Roar…

LION The date starts amusingly. A man of similar height and colouring approaches me … (have I mentioned that this Italian is not the usual dark stud but a Sicilian redhead… (how on earth I managed to find the only redhead Italian in Bristol I do not know…) He smiles nicely, asks how I am. He’s quite cute so I smile back, wondering if that is a Bristolian-Italian accent (you know the one)… At which he realises I am not his date, and backs out of the pub faster than Usain Bolt…hmmm. I feel for him when his real date turns up (nothing like me, possibly blonde) and he ushers her into a different pub up the road.

The Italian arrives… not quite fireworks. But he is amusing, charming and buys me many drinks including quickly replacing one when I foolishly knock it over. We talk about history, law and our respective countries until closing time. He offers to walk me home. He kisses me on the cheek. I swoon when he says ciao. Italian stallion yessss….

So far, so buono.
But alas…the cliché ….
Firstly a text- He misses my hair (?) and the full moon is so beautiful, it is a sin I could not stay out longer…(I knew he’d mention the moon, just knew it!)

download (2) I find this odd, but reassuring behaviour. He had not seemed that Italian during our date.

If you are going to date an Italian, you kind of expect the song and dance of over the top compliments and passion right…

We arrange to see each other again. Much of the same. No moves are made… This is ironic as before I went out with him, I did some blog reading on international dating and one such post claimed a man would be ridiculed in Italy if he sat on the sofa with a woman and did not try to kiss her. We first sit on chairs, and then moved to the sofa. Still nothing but he did get closer… gradually. A shy Italian? I resisted the temptation to explain to him the sofa rule and wandered home, contemplating when the stallion part would be revealed.
A weekend of no texts. I was busy so I didn’t ponder too deeply on this until the Monday. Finally, I cave and message him again…
He responds asking me to check my Facebook

A request that worryingly reminded me of this irritating scene …

Cliché no 2 (less fun than moon texts)
A long message full of broken English… to summarise: He has a girlfriend

His exact words “I have a girlfriend in Italy”.

Not just in Italy though really is it… If you have a girlfriend, she is always there. I don’t follow that post code excuse…

Can we blame this guy…download (3)
That is not the worst of it … After explaining that he wanted to tell me because it is the right thing to do… No wait, that’s the moral thing to say…After explaining that he wanted to tell me because she was visiting in two weeks (!?!!), he suggested we continue to see each other. But if we do see each other, he would like something to happen.
You can imagine the expletives I used and I was in a shop at the time… French connection, I believe, rather appropriately.

download (6)

SO that was my experience of the Italian stallion. On the cliché counter, he didn’t fare too badly.Singing, check (in public, very loudly, I was torn between hilarity and mortification)Cheating, check. Lazy, check (he found Black Boy Hill quite a trek) Jealous, check (self confessed jealous guy… which makes me wonder if the Italian women are playing around as much as their counterparts?) Food lover, check (he demolished a whole plate of garlic bread during our second date)

On the other hand, he was entertaining, very intelligent, liked Albert Camus and graveyards (the latter of which is a MASSIVE plus for me). He was very knowledgeable and managed to explain Milanese architecture to me, quite a feat and he managed to do it without me yawning, very impressive.

But the Lothario thing is impossible to get over. He told me defensively that it is what every man does. Which I am trying not to believe, otherwise that is some pretty unhappy reading for my fellow ladies out there.

This story is not quite over… but for now…
Ciao
Next in this series: Spanish Omelette anyone? 😉

For more, check out my fellow blogger here: http://theredlandrapscallion.wordpress.com

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Mistake # 3: Non Parle Americano (2011)

How are Italian men so good at getting you into bed and making you regret you got into it?

Being almost single, I joined my brother Alex and his twenty year old Sicilian/Canadian girlfriend Sandra on their romantic trip to the Dominican Republic, made less romantic by me tagging along everywhere and whining about my lack of love life.  Even though my brother and I were super close and shared all our ideas and even dating stories, I still couldn’t help but feel a little bit like a loner third-wheel on their ‘honeymoon’.

I was to be twenty-six within a couple of weeks and my life was in severe need of adventure and passion. Spending all my days teaching in a private school and coming home when it was already dark just added to my misery. To top it off, I started seeing this guy I met on a dating website. Dominick was a New Zealander who spent most of his life in Australia and has only just recently moved to Canada, where he was more miserable than me as he had never experienced any temperature below zero.

“Ahe these trees pehmanently dead?” he would ask me in a hybrid of Kiwi/Aussie accent and I would laugh. He pronounced dead like deed. And bear like beer.

He was a wonderful guy. Not bad on the eyes either. He was generous and kind, smart and successful. And I, for the life of me couldn’t understand why I felt absolutely nothing towards him. He seemed perfect. I could keep on listing his attributes forever. However, the prospect of dating him did nothing to lift my spirits up. If anything, it made me more depressed. Was I dating him because he looked perfect on paper? Because I was scared I would never fall in love? Or because I was lonely?

New Years

This trip was meant to be a little getaway, before the rest of my cold and monotone life would envelop me once more. I planned to spend it in total relaxation. However, I became very antsy when the first few days were fully uneventful. There was nothing to do, not too many interesting people to meet and most unfortunately, no cute guys besides the typical douchey baseball hat wearing and peacock strutting Canadians. They all looked the same and sounded the same. No matter how bored or desperate I was for some passion, I could not for the life of me lower myself to have a fling with one of these typical macho men. So I would keep up my boring routine of going to the beach, waiting in anticipation until it was time to eat, drink some more Mojitos and eat again. All the while I felt restless. Had I paid all this money just to lie around like a beached whale?

You see what I mean?

You see what I mean?

The next day after New Year’s has passed and by the time I gave up looking and actually started enjoying my vacation, I finally saw a guy. I was waiting near the reception with Alex, dripping water on the marble floor after my swim. The guy was standing in front of us, angrily cursing the wait up in another language. He was dirty blond with light blue eyes and a sporty build. I gazed at his passport Passaportoitaliano2006– red. He must be German, I figured.

After we left the reception, I was set on seeing the cute guy again. Sure we had only two days left, but there was finally something for me to look forwards to, besides the seafood buffet, and I would go after it. That evening, I saw him enter the restaurant by himself and observed him from afar like a spy. I reasoned he was by himself and who goes alone unless they are single and looking?

That night I was on a prowl. I generally prefer to be the one who gets prowled really, but I didn’t have a lot of time to spare for any sort of courting rituals. I had less than two days.

There was a show happening on stage and I positioned myself at the entrance, so I could see him if he would come in. There was nowhere else to be that night. And I already checked the bar.

Suddenly I spotted him sitting outside on the bench. He held a drink in his hand and seemed as bored as I was. Except probably less desperate, which wasn’t difficult. I slowly walked up to where he was sitting and pretended to watch the concert, my heart thumping against my chest as it always does when I try to make the first move.

“Horrible concert, right?” I said, not able to come up with anything more clever to say.

He looked up at me in some confusion. “Sorry?”

“I said this concert is bad” I smiled. He probably thought I was a complete moron.

“It is? Maybe is not so bad” he answered. “Sorry, my English is little rough.”

“That’s ok” I smiled. His English was pretty terrible, but somehow I always found a way to find a common ground. And sometimes my knowledge of Spanish helped.

We got to talking, if that is the proper word for it. Mostly, it was him looking uncomfortable and me guessing his words for him. He introduced himself as Rafael and as I realized the second he opened his mouth, he was not German, he was so very-a-Italian! Definitely what I never went for. However, this eased up my situation as I could now use my knowledge of Spanish to bridge the gap between Italian and English. Thankfully, Rafael also spoke some Spanish, which was of course mixed up with a lot of Italian words, but it somehow worked.pitalong

Rafael arrived to the Dominican Republic only a few hours ago. It took him fifteen hours to fly from the North of Italy and now he was staying for two weeks. Little did he know, he would be greeted by such a wonderful welcoming committee as myself.

He really looked Northern, as I have never seen an Italian with such clear blue eyes and light hair as him. And what set him apart from the others was the calm way he spoke to me. There was none of that Bella spiel that Italian men are so proud of. Really. Who wants to hear Bella yet again. Barf.

The bar

He suggested we walk to the seaside bar and we did, talking about God knows what but actually able to understand each other. The more we drank, the easier our conversation got. We spoke a mix of English, Spanish and Italian and somehow managed to get a full discussion going. Now, if only I could remember what the discussion was…

It was me who suggested ‘checking out’ the beach. And I suppose I was once again responsible for my own mistakes, if I should continue calling them that way. I did want to kiss him. Rather, I wanted something beautiful and romantic before my passion would come to a  screeching halt. I wanted to rebel against the safety of my job and the safety that Dominick seemed to embody. Dominick and I haven’t had sex yet, we haven’t even kissed and the lack of desire for either actually confused me. It’s been a while since I’ve had sex and I still didn’t want to have it with him. He was predictable, he was safe, he was boring. I wanted passion and excitement. And the Italian was sexy. He was unbelievably sexy, but that did not mean I wanted to have sex with a total stranger. At that moment, a kiss would suffice.

So we walked to the water, where I awkwardly positioned myself on a hammock as we talked.

“You are comfortable?” He asked me, a small smile on his face.

I waited a beat. “No”

He laughed and stood up. “OK, give me your hand.”

I reached for his hand and as I stood up, he kissed me. He was a wonderful kisser and we kissed for some time.

Then the Italian in him woke up.

“Come” he said.

“What? Come where?” I asked, confused.

“Come to my room” he smiled.

“I’m not going to any room, Rafael!” I said. Really? Did a kiss now mean I was ready to go to his place? Are all foreign girls considered easy? Me being Russian didn’t help matters.

They ruined it for all of us

They ruined it for all of us

“OK, how about your room?”

“Are you serious? We’re not going to my room”

“We will not have sex, Mia. I will not pressure you” he said and kissed me again.

“You think I’m stupid?” I asked.

“OK, so let’s just walk.” He offered and kissed me once more. We walked and kissed sporadically. The last stop happened to be near my building.

“So, Mia” he said. “Your hotel room is right here.”

“Thank you. I know.” The subtlety was too much to handle.

“Can I come in?”

So you would think that a girl who doesn’t want to have sex and is so explicitly encouraged, rather pushed by an Italian would have enough brains in her head to know that should she engage in this wonderful activity, she will then count to five to see how fast this Italian stallion will run out the door. And run out the door he will. Unless he wants to run back in for a quickie.

I don’t know what it was that came into my mind when I let him in my room. Number one reason was the crazy sum I spent for this one room, only to sleep in it by myself. Number two reason was that I was very attracted to Rafael and did not want to say goodnight to him just yet. And in reality, I was more than confident I would have enough brains and willpower to stop him before we got down to anything serious.

I was wrong.

As we came into the room, I began picking up the clothes that lay scattered on my floor.  He came up to me and pressed me to the wall, causing the clothes to fall back down. He pushed my hands to the sides and began kissing me, slowly,  then led me to the bed, where the passionate kissing continued.

“I’m not having sex” I kept on saying to remind not only him, but also myself I would not go through with it.

“Ok, ok” he kept on agreeing with me, knowing that actions speak louder than words. Especially when you don’t speak the language.

devil_angelIn my head there were two people arguing against each other. One kept on reminding me that I was as dry as an old lady and it made no difference to anyone if I had sex with this gorgeous man. It might even be good for me. The other one was prudishly screaming at me to stop. After all, I didn’t even know him. Tomorrow he would not remember my name.

And then he took off his shirt.

I am no longer sixteen to be screaming in glee at an image of a six-pack, but I have never before seen such a perfectly defined male body in my life. Rafael should have been sculpted, he was that perfect.

I work out

I work out

I kept on saying no, no.. and then I let it happen. He never turned the lights off which made a bit uncomfortable, nor could I fully enjoy what I felt was a mistake. Though others might call it a one-night stand.

He was masculine, he was dominant, he had an incredible stamina. The bed moved around, the bottle of water fell to the ground, I was exhausted. For a guy who spent fifteen hours on a plane, he sure did have some stamina. During sex, Rafael seemed to lose all ability to speak English or even Spanish for that matter. I think I actually learned a few Italian words, though not many that I can use on Italian men without similar consequences.

After it was over, he didn’t stay. He excitedly talked about heading to the gym first thing tomorrow morning. “I will go to gym tomorrow!” he exclaimed happily in his horrible English. I nodded and let him out the door, where he kissed me one last time. That is after I congratulated him on a wonderful start to a year. Ha.Ha.

I then lowered myself to the floor and took my face in my hands. I was a complete and total moron to let this guy convince me into having sex. But it felt good to let my guard down and actually do something so unlike me. Although, with the past two mistakes, it was strangely beginning to be like me.

The next morning, I ignored him as much as I could. After all, what would I now have to say to him? Besides ciao? I guess my face gave what happened away, because my brother and his girlfriend guessed it.

“Have you no self control?” Alex looked incredulous.

“Oh leave her alone! Let her do what she wants” Sandra came to my defense.

“Exactly” I said. “It’s not like it’s going to hurt me. I don’t even care for the guy”

Wrong again. As soon as I saw Rafael, I realized I wasn’t the only one avoiding him. He was definitely ignoring me. He, now having made some Italian friends, was completely oblivious to my existence. I didn’t want to speak to him first so we actually avoided looking at each other.

That evening, I dressed up and put on more makeup than usual. I was in a weird, anxious mood and no amount of makeup could erase that feeling.  Sure, one-night stands could be fun, considering you chose to sleep with the guy, but I felt used. Like I was yesterday’s news and today he would look for someone else. I urged Sandra to sit with me in the restaurant and waited anxiously until I would see him enter.

Soon, he came in with his friends and noticing me, came up to say hi. He kissed me European style and said hi to both me and Sandra. He asked if we were going to the bar afterwards. I told him we were. We will see each other there, he said. His English was far worse than I remembered.

Pretty much my expression

Pretty much my expression

“Mia, he’s very hot” said Sandra as we drank cocktails by the bar. “But I really think he’s a player. The way he looked me over, I don’t know, to be honest”

“I know” I lowered my head in my hands. “I’m so stupid. I told myself it wouldn’t matter, but it does. This really hurts.”

He came by the bar later on with another two friends. Two sat by my side, while he so conveniently seated himself by Sandra. I introduced him to her and my brother last night, but it seemed that he didn’t remember she had a boyfriend, as he talked to her with interest and paid almost no attention to me.

I tried to keep a happy face, but all I could do was glance his way to see if he was looking back at me. He wasn’t. Fully engaged in a conversation with Sandra, he not so much gave me as a second glance. His friends, interested in me, kept on asking me questions, but I was too upset to put on a happy face.

Soon, Sandra lowered her face to mine and whispered. “Leave him. Let’s go.”

I stared at her. I knew she was right. He was a jerk. A player. I needed to leave to preserve any self-respect I still had. Believe it or not, a huge part of me did not want to go. Had he offered to have sex with me again, I was not sure if I would have the guts to say no. So I had to leave.

“We’ll be back” I told them, looking straight at Rafael. He looked at me in surprise and confusion, probably wondering if he would have sex with me that night. Sandra and I walked around the hotel and talked. Most of this talk consisted of me crying in the bathroom.

“I am so stupid!” I kept on repeating over and over again.

“Stop blaming yourself” told me Sandra, caressing my hair. “There are many jerks like that. You just have to see them for what they are.”

There it was: a twenty year old giving a twenty-five year old advice.

When we came back, they were gone. Apparently, they sat there for an hour waiting, then figuring we weren’t coming back, left.

I hoped he would knock on my door that night, but he didn’t. Not knowing why it hurt so much, since I barely knew the guy, didn’t erase the fact that it actually hurt like hell.

I ignored him the next day, even when he tried to smile to me. However, right before we had to leave for the airport I couldn’t help glancing at him. He lay there, with his white Gucci shorts, and even Sandra gasped at how well-defined his body was. He looked like some sort of Italian God. However, he was definitely more like an Italian Douche.

At the end, I gave up trying to ignore him and wished him goodbye. Ciao, was all he said to me from his lounge chair. He didn’t even get up.

Ah Italian men. They are romantic, they are passionate, they know what women like and 7483765-an-italian-boy-on-a-scooterthey like women. They are hunters and they know that no many times a woman says no, she will ultimately say yes. The point, I know now, is to look at them with a bit of humor and to know that they will do everything to please you, but don’t expect them to be gentlemen after they have achieved what they came for.

And no matter what, don’t ever be the one who chases an Italian man!