Sometimes, I find that my dating history can best be compared to the archives of an old French couture house like Dior – the minute you think you’re flat out of inspiration, there it is, the forgotten ‘pass partout’ suit or the show-stopping jungle dress! (Isn’t it great that all my fancy fashion education is paying off?!) Sticking to the analogy, this story can be best compared to a denim saddle bag from the Galliano days: tacky and cliché, but fun nonetheless!
It was my first year in France and I was on a school trip to Milan with two girlfriends, one of whom happened to be a little French firecracker a few years my junior. After four days of “studying” at Bocconi University, we headed over over to Florence and Rome, a foreign-student-bucket-list of a trip that was just calling for a team of sleazy Italianos. After a quick Facebook shout-out, a friend’s friend of a friend hooked me up with the exact object of my desire, a guy we will Luigi.
Luigi was a successful, decent-looking dentist in his mid 30s. He was also the purest definition of Eurotrash if there ever was one. His Facebook did a good job depicting his interests, which mainly involved laying on yacht decks somewhere in the Mediterranean, surrounded by shiny lithe brunette women with reflective sunglasses and a collection of crochet bikini cover-ups. I knew I probably wouldn’t fit in by BMI alone, but decided not to let that stop me.
After the routine ADD Italian email correspondences filled with 3-word, exclamation-point-laced sentences, we finally convened a time to meet up at a restaurant called Casa Clementina, where I was having dinner with my young girlfriend. He arrived just in time for dessert – or rather, just in time to check us out without having to commit to a full dinner. We must have passed the Italian inspection, because, the next thing we knew, we were all heading to some fancy club on the other side of town.
At the entrance, the gates parted as if Caesar himself was rolling in. As part of Caesar’s posse, we shared the royal treatment, and I soon began practically feeling like Cleopatra herself, surrounded by a throng of admiring Italian onlookers. Luigi led me to the bar, where we had a few rounds of drinks, after which I excused myself to the ladies room. Ever the gentleman, he volunteered to accompany me and surprised me by passionately kissing me in the dimly lit hallway en route to the toilets. I went to the bathroom, reunited with Luigi, danced some more and headed home with my friend.
The next day, my girlfriend stared at me over breakfast at our Airbnb rental, a guilty expression on her face. “What happened?”, I prodded, until she finally broke down and admitted that Luigi had attempted to make out with her the night before. Granted, she had refused, but it made for an uncomfortable situation nonetheless. I was confused – when had this betrayal taken place? We had been together all night! “When you were in the bathroom..” she sheepishly responded. I had gone to the bathroom only once that night – the time he had accompanied me and staged an impromptu makeout! As much as I knew I should be insulted, I couldn’t help but also be impressed: anybody who tries to fit in a makeout session with a girl in the time it takes another girl to pee really deserves a serious (Scarlett) A for effort!
That afternoon, I received a text message from Luigi. “Bella, I want to take you on a date… I pick you up at 8!” As tempted as I wanted to teach him a grand lesson à la “The Other Woman”, laziness won over and I agreed to go. Luigi picked me up on a Smart car and whisked me to the Coliseum, jamming the mini-vehicle into a motorcycle space in order to show me the Good Friday Cross procession, a pretty magical moment if I do say so myself. We then headed to the Old City, where he showcased his expert tour guide skills, pointing out all the most romantic spots and detailing a bit of history behind them for good measure. He told me all about his life, his Catholic family who would never allow him to leave Rome, let alone marry somebody of a different religion. It wasn’t the most liberating of circumstances, and yet he enjoyed his life and his job as a dentist for Rome’s elites. (In fact, he claimed that he mostly went out for “networking” purposes!) I had just run into some dental trouble myself and asked if I could send him an X-ray for a second opinion; he volunteered to fix my entire mouth if necessary. Between the promise of free dental work and an excellent kiss somewhere by the Trevi Fountain, I was definitely teetering on the verge of a real crush. It took everything to remind myself that this was the same guy who had attempted to stick his tongue into my friend’s mouth during my bathroom run the night before, a stellar example of oral hygiene.
After our walk, we headed to some posh apéro spot, where we ran into the exact same predicament as in the club the night before. Not only did Luigi know the entire waitstaff, he also seemed to be familiar with the majority of female patrons, all of which looked like they had emerged straight from his Facebook page. Eventually, nature called and I headed to the bathroom. Coming out, I saw him sitting with a young lady who looked like she smelled like Davidoff Cool Water. She was leaning in and stroking his skintight Dolce denim while chuchotting something into his ear. I couldn’t believe it – Luigi had failed his Marshmallow Test yet again! Unable to keep my cool for much longer, I spewed out my frustration over our next drink. “Bella, I never do that!” he exclaimed, “You women are crazy! We go to dinner! Pasta, basta!”
To be honest, I didn’t really care about the girls. In fact, I knew it would be all too easy to forget about what I had seen, break bread (or in this case, pasta) with Luigi, and let the night take its natural course. But I also knew that Luigi himself was like a dish of carbonara: delicious late at night, yet a lot of bloat to carry around the next day. And so, I resisted this giant walking carbohydrate of a man, and said arrivederci. Two weeks later, I sent him my dental x-ray. He confirmed that a root canal was, indeed, necessary.