I was told to do a lot of things before I left for Italy. My mom told me I had to remember to floss every night, my dad told me I should travel all over Europe, while on the other hand, my professor told me I had to remember to travel within Italy, and my friends told me that I needed to eat a lot of pasta and pizza…that, and I needed to find an Italian man for myself and one to bring back to them. My answer back then was “Well, duh” but now that I am two months in, here’s the situation: falling in love with a European is hard!
First of all, and obviously, there is a significant language barrier. Hand motions and eyelash batting can only go so far until you look dumb and stricken with some type of eye disease. Second of all, boys shower here, wear t-shirts that they didn’t get at the TOC, and have hair coifs. Like what are you even supposed to do when you encounter a man with a hair coif? I mean if you are me, apparently you blush and then give up, but seriously, where is a 15-110 type course on how to approach good looking European men when you need one?
“Now, wait a minute” one of my roommates interjected as I wondered about handsome, well-coifed European men aloud, “Why do I need to be the one approaching them? What I want to know is why it’s always that creepy old men are always ‘ciao bella-ing’ me on the streets but the cute guys our age aren’t tryna holler?”
It’s true. When I first arrived at Florence, I was shocked at the frequency in which old men would whistle or purse their lips at a group of my friends and me. In fact, I was so taken aback that I often yelled back in response “I COULD BE YOUR GRANDDAUGHTER”. Nowadays, the wolf whistling while walking out and about sounds no more out of place than birds chirping and cars whizzing by.
My other roommate steps in at this point, “Well, if you think about it, the cute boys want you to approach them first, and then they will flirt incessantly to make up for the not hollering in the first place.” Touché. I’ve observed that once a conversation starts here, they go on for quite a while…even after you’re done talking…for hours.
I don’t really know why I wrote this post. Maybe it’s because I need the people who are asking me “How are the Italian men???” to clarify. Sigh, the cute ones are fine…to look at [badum tish!]. But if you are asking me about the old creepy ones, they’re still hollerin’ at their friends. And me? I’ve taken to wearing my backpack over my stomach with my jacket zipped over it. If there is one thing that creepy old guys and cute, well-coifed guys agree on, it’s that it is bad form to holler at a pregnant lady.