Red Wine Can Make One Really Sickingly Nostalgic
There was a time, centuries ago, when I was a machine with a soul. I was well-oiled and my parts were new and shiny. I rolled into the day with the breaking of the sun and slowly rolled into the night where music was the air I breathed, thick with cigarette smoke and held aloft by lazy hopes for the someday-somehow.
I moved through time like a seasoned pilot. One day I was to do this and for everything a place but then I always took time to kick back a few and enjoy the view. I was fast and fearless at times. Now, looking back, I am amazed that I wasn't killed along the way.
For instance, in 1985 I traveled for three weeks on my own in Europe. Traveling alone isn't too bad if you are old and wear flowery dresses. Traveling when one is twenty-three and in a foreign country with leering men and rude french waiters is another thing. I was trodding around Florence, Italy when I came upon Gianni. I had just exited a stale, overcrowded train and in search of the nearest hostel. I spoke respectable Italian back then and was able to make myself (mostly) understood. Gianni got a kick out of hearing me trip over my phrases and started to talk to me in English. He was beautiful, as was the case for about 99% of all young Italian men. Somehow, back then as I was hoisting a twenty-pound plus backpack on my young strong vertabrae, I was never thinking that I might be conversing with a psycho. Psychos weren't really my concern back then. I trusted everyone and I was incredibly stupid.
So Gianni, with his dark Al Pacino eyes, decides to join me in my hunt for a bunk. He was from Milan.
"So. You American. Why over here?" He smiled slyly and I remembered there was a very good reason why my Italian mother warned me about Italian men. Their eyes made a woman want to make a bed afterwards.
"Yes." I smile and saunter with what I'm hoping is an Isabella Rosallini sway in my hips. Then I remember I haven't completely answered the question.
"I am here to visit. I am from an Italian-American family and I wanted to see all the art that I studied in college." Already, I was becoming museum-fatigued, but I didn't want to offend him.
We didn't really talk that much since his English wasn't that great and my Italian wasn't real smooth. We found a hostel and then went outside to enjoy the hellish, suffocating August air while walking around a park. Then he said he wanted to take me to lunch. I accepted since I was watching my money carefully and was charmed by him.
We went to an outdoor cafe where Italian music was spilling from speakers in the huge potted plants. The tablecloths were red and white checked and everyone seemed very happy.
I ordered spaghetti and the small steak that came with it. In Italy, the noon meals are usually substantial. Gianni ordered some red wine for us. We drank, laughed and tried to communicate as best we could. The waiter arrived with our food and we dove into the spaghetti with abandon. Suddenly, I noticed a long scar on the top of his right hand. I asked him about it.
"Oh, this? This is from some woman." He kept stabbing at the meat impatiently.
"A woman? That sounds interesting." I twirled my spaghetti expertly in my spoon with my fork. I was raised eating spaghetti like this. I knew of an old Italian woman in a restaraunt who would come flying out of the kitchen doors in a rage if anyone was ballsy enough to try to cut the spaghetti in her place.
Gianni shrugged. "Well, it was because I wanted to fuck and she didn't want to fuck. So she took her fork and, " with this he imitated the motions of a woman stabbing his hand with a fork. He then looked at me with his half-closed lids, cocked his head to the side as only Italians can do as if to say, "So...whaddayagonnadoaboutit?"
I just said, "oh, wow. That's intense." I kept eating and took another swig of the wine.
Gianni and I went back to the hostel where we kept talking, but he obviously wanted something of mine to twirl and I said no. He finally declared that I was sick in the head and messed up because I didn't want to have sex with him. At one point, he was trying to convince me to sleep with him so I could meet his mother. This sort of twisted logic is completely acceptable in Italy. I left and he left and I kept bumping into strange men who would flirt with me and laugh and I would laugh back, knowing that I wasn't going to say yes to any of them.
Finally, I went home. I felt very content about my trip and not at all hesitant. My parents were relieved that I came back alone. Although my camera broke while overseas, I kept a good journal and had the memories. Memories that showed that one day, a long time ago, I believed in the safeness of the world and the world believed in me. I'd like to visit that place again, if only I could find where it is on the map.
Zink Poe ©2002