Sex and the Whole Wide World:
The difference between men here and at home is apparent immediately. They look different—more put together and fashionable, no plaid flannel. They smell different—cologne in scents so exotic and captivating I will find I am following, nose-first, a 50-something man down the sidewalk for another whiff of that—what is it? Armani? Dolce?—musky smell. Italians also look pointedly. If one is checking you out, you know it. There are no last-minute turns so you don’t see them doing it. They speak up. They are not afraid to be shot down, because to them, that is just a fact of life—shit happens. Sometimes pretty women aren’t interested. Sometimes they even tell you to go fuck yourself for the “Ciao, bella” you gave them. If this was a common practice in the U.S, I think men would be so eternally crushed from all the turn-downs that we would not really have men anymore. There is something to be said for machismo. I think I could fall for one of these dashing figures quite easily, but Italians seems to exhibit the same sort of “I love you today; tomorrow I forget about you and replace you” mentality that I can’t stand.
And here I was, thinking sex ruled my life. I am a neophyte compared to Italian men. It’s all about getting it, doing it, doing it again, and onto the next. Personal space does not exist. Your ass is public property. A concert or packed club is a great way to try to procreate with you through clothing. Condoms are sold right alongside the Band-Aids. Sex, it seems, goes hand-in-hand with the mundane moments in life, like scraped knees or paper-cuts.
The implications of sex here are also different. A look means an opening for conversation. Conversation usually leads to a phone number. Giving a man your phone number means to be prepared for numerous calls or text, or calls AND texts, a day. “I see you later?” “Where are you tonight?” “What are you doing, cara?” Italian men are as needy as neurotic American women. Bringing them home means third base, at least. Go home with them, and your roommates may be calling the carabinieri, reporting you missing, because they are an enchanting and captivating people. You may not want to leave. And when you do finally break free from the love nest, try getting rid of them. It takes WEEKS.
And yes, Italian is a romance language. One of the most beautiful phrases that I have found to say is downright explicit—“Voglio vederti venire.” “I want to see you come.”