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
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)
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…
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!)
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 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 worringly reminded me of this irritating scene …
Cliché no2 (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…
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.
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…
Next in this series: Spanish Omelette anyone? 😉