First, let me list my achievements. It’s kind of a big deal for me…
Last night I put my coupla days not smoking to the test- I was excited about it actually, not dreading it. I didn’t smoke, I didn’t WANT to smoke. I’m over the moon. So I didn’t want to smoke, that doesn’t mean I didn’t THINK about smoking. I did think about smoking, and I talked at length about not smoking. But I didn’t want to smoke really, I just sort of observed smokers engaging in their oh so familiar ritual as if it was through a pane of glass, or like I was reading about people smoking and not actually seeing it in the flesh.
I’m not sure I’ll never smoke again, but I have never been this convinced I really didn’t want to smoke. I get what the book says about not needing willpower: I don’t feel like it was a strain to not smoke all those individual cigarettes, although it wasn’t 100% easy as snapping my fingers and not wanting a smoke, in fact I can’t actually snap my fingers so it was much easier for me. Anyway.. I don’t know, maybe I’m cured maybe I’ve a long way to go, maybe I’ll snap… But I’m very cheerful about it. It feels good. My breath is still horrible though. So it wasn’t just the smoking, I realise I have actually got bad breath too. Oh well.
I’m coughing up a lungfull today but I think it’s the beginning stages of the gunge expulsion. Excelsior!
The point is, even if I haven’t hit my biggest most harmful vice a knockout blow in a few painless days, I have at least give it the almighty finger. I have at the very least, called its mother a ho.
Anyway. I have awarded myself the congressional medal of non smoking, let us move along and sink our hyper-analytical paranoid little chompers into the soft belly flesh of the evening.
I’m talking, socialisation.
Again: I deserve top marks. I wasn’t exactly super entertaining, but I made no waves and offended no ethnic groups. I inspired a few giggles and witters and didn’t mention my divorce to anyone, at all! I didn’t even brag about having to meet my divorce lawyer today. Boom, I’m getting the hang of this. Admittedly, only had 3 pints of beer. But still. I was good. I could have been so bad on just 3 pints…
Unfortunately, apart from Andrea (who scores top marks for awesomeness. I finally have a proper friend, yay!) the company was about as exciting as a night in exfoliating my feet. (This was the alternative timeline for yesterday. Some time last night, a parallel universe version of me made a decision, pulled down the shutters, stuck on the Joni Mitchell and scattered foot flakes like Edward Scissorhands up in his house doing an ice sculpture.)
We met with a group of Italians (alarm bells, yo) who Andrea had pre-warned me, were not attractive. Well… she squinted… they are SHORT. She is short, so this means… they were SHORT.
I was dressed in a few too many colours to really attract an Italian mate anyway. The Italian is a peacock, the male is meant to display his coloured plumage, the woman to cluck impressed and feign disapproval from the safety of black boots and jeans and a white top combo. I had blue tights, a yellow cardigan and a pretty flattering grey dress on. I looked nice, but it wasn’t the right look. Fuck it though, I’m getting bolder. I don’t really want to be slimed on in a black cocktail dress. A black cocktail dress makes my appeal way too generic. And I didn’t look like a hippie or anything, I was quite groomed and had nice sexy makeup on. So fuck you and your undeveloped palate, ITALIANS. I give good head, did you even stop to think about that? No! You see yellow clothing, you think crazy. Well your loss. I don’t even like GETTING HEAD. So really, Italians, you are foolish and you are the ones missing out.
Anyway. deep breaths.
We met this group of guys, one of whom Andrea knew vaguely.
Andrea introduced me to him, and he promptly went to the bar leaving us standing beside a table full of his friends. We exchanged a look, me and my newly-promoted gal pal, that said “what the fuck, he didn’t introduce us to his friends, where’s the bubbly circle of “hi!s” and where’s the gracious and charming offer of bringing us drinks from the bar and where is the pulling over of empty chairs so we can sit?”
So I had already crossed off a few items on the “decent human being” checklist when doucheface came back with his own “fruity as an ass full of pineapple” cocktail with maraschino cherry and black straw.
We were inserted gracelessly into the circle of best buddies whose quickfire back and forth was like watching the Gilmore Girls talk about their favorite detergent.
One of the girls… there were two nondescript, mashed potato boring, typical Italian girls at our table. They both looked like they had emerged from the womb middle aged. They had young skin and young bodies, but the expressions on those smooth, sallow faces could probably be found in Pompei, on the igneous casing of a housewife, frozen in the eternal act of reprimanding a foolish husband.
These women are made in a different factory from real women. They come out all shiny and petulant, little daddy’s girls who like the proper girl colour, pink, and eat a proper girl amount of food to stay nice and perfect, and probably grow into proper teenagers who masturbate in a neat and discrete manner, folding ironing and putting the clitoris away after use, making eager Italian boys wait in torment for a glimpse of perfect brown nipple. Tortured Italian boys propose, and become tortured Italian husbands with receding hair and encroaching waist-lines.
And the expression is always the same, I presume. I presume because this is just a fictional imagining of what happens behind the polished exterior I have actually seen.
Italian woman play the game like they’re on a different team from the men. Who knows what kind of depravity they reveal in the privacy of the girl’s only club. But on the pitch, with the jocular men, the women put up a front of girlish sweetness. They giggle flirtatiously through tight lips, repeating their ancestors’ jokes and giving nothing honest away. There’s something menacing and hyper competitive in their wordplay. They’re playing to win. I don’t now if it’s just in my head, because I come from a society where we don’t have to take mincing little steps, we can be- it’s ok to be and it’s GOOD to be, a stampede of personality and a roar of a woman.
I’m not saying everyone should be rowdy or vulgar, but just… this portrait of a lady is mighty old, and very fake. If it takes all sorts, why don’t we SEE all sorts at the Italian bar table? All I say is the same cookie-cutter eyelash-batting future battleaxe of a wife and mother, smelling like a rose that doesn’t fart but hollow in the middle.
I’ve never had a good conversation with an Italian woman in a mixed-gender situation. I’ve had moderately good times with women here, but in female-only environments, like in my shop, or when it’s just a few girls together having coffee.
So I’m getting a bit sidetracked. One of the Italian girls piped up, anyway.
She giggled something about one of the guy’s arm hairs. This is the girl opposite me at the table, and the guy sitting beside me whose name I forget, let’s call him Giaccomo.
So Giaccomo is like “what? What about my arm hair?”
Giggly wench is like “ooh.. nothing! Yours are … well-formed! Some people don’t have good arm hair.”
What’s this bitch really thinking about? Her collection of ceramic pig figurines? The fact that she posted a comment on a Star Trek fan site, and she’s itching to know if her forum nemesis replied back? Does she have Abba stuck in her head? Is she worrying that she might have got her period, but she can’t be sure because maybe she just leaked a little lady liquid? Is she thinking about the stock exchange? Should she sell her stock that went down two points or wait and see if it goes up again?
These women are a mystery to me.
Giaccomo is now pulling back his sleeves now displaying an immaculate forearm, mahogany brown, smooth coloured and glowing with health and mamma’s cooking, and coated with a thick, even army of black hairs. The hairs lie harmonious against his skin like a mammal in water.
He coos and flutters asking about what she means, what kind of hair he has, is it normal, etc.
The other girl at the table, the friendlier, curly-haired girl, interjects randomly with “please! Arm hair! Really! Can we STOP!” and squeals at the ridiculousness of it all.
I exchange glances with Andrea.
The arm hair conversation spreads around the table, attracting the other men to compare forearms and chuckle and the two girls to be extremely silly about it all, in a clearly contrived, controlled and appropriate way.
Andrea and I retreat quietly to our own conversation in Spanish.
Giaccomo catches a few words and turns to us. “Ah! But you must speak in Italian! I can’t understand you!” Big nice smile. Pity the summary of nice smile, nice skin, nice arms, nice hair, nice eyes… doesn’t add up to an attractive man. Strange, but meh.
I’m quite bored by this group and their shitty conversation. So I’m like
“Oooh… That’s embarassing… It’s just… I was telling my friend, about how awful your arm hairs are.”
He does a double take. “WHAAAAT? MY arm hairs? What’s wrong?” He starts examining his arms frantically.
I’m like, “Yeah… they’re actually pretty horrific. Like, frightening. I’m sorry that’s why I was talking in Spanish”
And the guy is freaking out. He announces he will get them waxed tomorrow. His big brown eyes are puppy-dog-desolate.
I have to put him out of his bizzare misery.
Yeah. It was a joke. How could you have scary arm hair?
All is well. He’s in stitches with my amazing practical joke. Relief circles the table like a giddy vulture. Whew.
My little jest got me in good with the group for a while.
But again, they bored the hell out of me until if I had been any more drunk I would have started announcing weird truths or lies about myself for entertainment purposes.
Luckily I began whispering to Andrea, let’s ditch these lamewads.
She was like… nooo I feel bad, they bought me shots. I abstained from shots because I’m a sensible adult, I know I can’t take shots. I had a cold bottle of beer while the mama’s boys chugged thimblesfull of vodka with thimbles of O.J as a chaser. Fear and Loathing, eat your heart out. I throw myself into not sneering at these lightweights. It’s a bad habit of a previous hardcore party beast, I tend to look down on people who think they are mad bastards for having a cough medicine spoonfull of spirits.
I wheedle at Andrea. Come on, admit it… These guys are super boring. I’m taking a gamble here, she’s a nice person maybe she’ll think I’m a dick. I tell her she can pretend I want to go meet up with this guy I fancy. I don’t care, throw me under the bus! I want out of this Italian version of Friends, except less funny.
She crumbles and admits I’m right. We make excuses and leave.
We need to pee. We are talking about how lame Italians are.
I go on a rant that is luckily well received, about how Italian women annoy me by acting so freaking perfect. Whether or not its true, they perpetuate this idea of women being these pillars of grace and cleanliness and men are these oafish sods who need to be glared at until they sheepishly submit to the will of the woman.
I’m sick of these faux conversations where some bitch with flawless skin squeals about having seen someone pick up food that landed on the floor, or peed in the gents toilet when there was a queue for the ladies like a mile long.
I hate these fake, prissy bitches. The two wenches we were with earlier had left the group for like an hour to “find a clean toilet”. Come on, we queued for ages and got to a hole in the ground with no lock. And my bladder didn’t give a crap (it couldn’t, it’s a bladder)
What kind of joyless masochist would queue for various toilets and reject one with a full pee-sac?
That’s bad parenting, that’s what I blame it on.
I have news for you: I SIT my bare bum on public toilet seats all the time and as far as I know, mr. fucking Monk, I have neither dyptheria nor hepatitis nor bum rabies. So there. Imagine what a carefully places sheet of tissue would do. The mind boggles.
So me and Andrea are rejoicing in our kindred sloppy spirithood, and we decide to pee beside these dumpsters. It’s a very quiet street, poorly lit. There are like 4 big bins. We lower our knickers and hike up our skirts and unleash frothy fountains of joyous piss in unison, giggling like Beavis and Butthead.
He has a reflective shirt on.
He is coming towards us purposefully.
Behind him is a MASSIVE BEEPING BIN TRUCK.
Dang. We force our streams to halt and yank undies back into place more or less cleanly. More or less. and begin to walk past the guy in the reflective jacket.
He’s a binman. They are for some reason emptying the bins right now, the bins we peed all around.
We try to act casual as the bin truck pulls up all beeps and lights. He shoots us a look of revulsion.
“All done, LADIES?”
We power walk past as I fume at the inconsideration of bin trucks, choosing toilet-queueing nightmare time to come and do the rounds. Not fair.
We cemented our friendship, anyway. I know it seems pretty tame, peeing on the street, but in Italy the girls we have met are such prudes, it’s like an act of rebellion…
We moved to a kind of social-centre (warning bells, I know) party where on the strength of Andrea’s good looks and in spite of my hostile arguments, we got in for free.
We found one familiar face and began dancing to the most intense, unpleasant strobe lighting I’ve ever seen. It showed brief unnerving glimpses of the other dancers, like flashes of lightning in a horror movie.
I was just loosening up my funky chicken wings when a flash of illumination showed me a face I had no intention or expectation of seeing…
Husband, the broke, no money for bills, selfish lying piece of shit, out clubbing in a pay-in party.
I grabbed Andrea, unsure if I had seen what I had seen. I told her nervously. What? Are you sure?
I shook my head. I turned. I saw my husband dancing with some girl I don’t know.
He was wearing the hawaian shirt he married me in, that later became all tatty and worn out, so I cut out the bad parts and using another favorite shirt of his, I created a new supershirt for him. It’s an awesome shirt. I’m sloppy as hell but this was a labour of love and devotion. He was wearing his awesome shirt made for him by his wife to dance with some stupid looking wench while spending money he owes for electricity and heating he used last year, on drinks for himself.
Andrea spotted him too and yelped. Let’s go! We snaked out through increasingly dizzying flashes of light.
Andrea looked around for any familiar but not married to me faces, and noticed my slack jaw and stunned, lifeless eyes.
Ah… let’s get out of here.
We left the place and those horrible jarring lights and sat on a curb outside.
It all flooded over me as I sat and didn’t smoke, and didn’t really want to…
I was out kind of hoping to find a nice face to slurp all over and then regret the next day, and who do I bump into? Husband, a week before my separation. I can’t afford to give him anything he can use against me like that. Imagine he could go to court and say I was unfaithful? Until we have our legal separation, anything goes. We’re still legally together.
One week baby, and I swore to Andrea, we are going out, I am having a reverse-hen night.
We’re going to go see strippers and I’m getting a horrible greasy lapdance. I’m going to drink a bottle of whiskey and take a 19 year old man child home to my black satin sheets and ride him like a mechanical bull set to “easy”, and if he cares if my legs are hairy, then tough shit, I’ve never been thrown out of bed for resembling a faun before, and if it happens here in Italy, hell it only confirms my theory that men here are an insult to closet homosexuality.
In fact last night we were walking along and one of the guys sort of stroked and squeezed his friend’s arm, and the two were like to us, all jocular, “Ha ha it’s a guy thing, it’s man stuff,” like they were comparing arm muscles or something but man it seemed quite sensual from where I was standing. Yes, I admit I am standing in a sexually obsessed position, but whatevs. I can still use my spidey senses.
Anyway I was sitting on the curb with rolls and rolls of neatly packed emotional trauma toppling out of my secret ignore place, like logs off the back of a Final Destination truck. I sat there moody, considering smoking not for enjoyment or because I wanted to, but for the same reasons I started smoking as a teenager… to say a silent, unnoticed fuck you to someone who had hurt me. In this case, husband. Back when I was 14 or 15, my parents.
I decided I am somewhat more mature now, and that sort of poor me bullshit has run its course. I don’t want to do shit that makes people think “wow, she’s coping SO WELL considering.” I don’t even want people to KNOW the shit that’s going on. No that’s a lie, a blatant lie. I want people to catch little snippets of my personal drama and be suitably impressed with my stoical heroicism in dealing with growed-up shit.
So I’m spacing out and I realise Andrea’s just along for the ride, and I’m like, sorry for the crappy company, it just threw me to see husband out of context like that.
She’s like, wow no worries, I totally understand! Jeez it’s totally expected!
So we sat for a while then shared a taxi which we paid for 50-50, but actually it worked out cheaper and I was going further so I wound up paying less to go the longest journey. I will get her a beer next time to even things out maybe. Hmm, just thinking I MIGHT do that gives me some good person feelings. Nice.
This morning I woke up and felt pretty fine, 4 hours sleep, enough is as good as a feast they say. That’s true although of course I didn’t get enough, but fuck it I have a month left before I’m 24, and I’m perfectly capable of doing 10 hours customer service on my poor feet and a lawyer meeting with husband at 4pm in my lunch hour on 4 hours sleep.
This is my youth baby, I just gotta deal and enjoy that it’s even feasable.
I feel pretty good actually.
I think the feeble amount of beers consumed paired with the not smoking at all and the sensible glass of water before bed, the trifecta of my accumulated wisom…
Totally doable workday.
And then I got a really sweet message from Andrea this morning, being all like hey let me know how you get on with the lawyer today, if you need to vent or whatever I’m here.
I have a proper friend! Looks like I won’t have to go eat those worms after all.
You see, I must be doing something right.
And tomorrow I’m meeting another new friend for a day of good humoured sunny tourism and possibly catch a film in English.
Go on mah son! (This in a brutish English football fan voice btw.)
I am on a roll of social excellence.
Just one week since my deplorable argument about maturity with some dickweed, and so much is better. So I saw husband, big whoop. I don’t even care. Also I got a big phone bill. Why? Who? When? Pffff. I’m just chillin.
Fortuna, you filthy auld dame, you really are spoiling me with this latest series of spins.