Sunday, November 30, 2003

I went to the lake yesterday. It's lovely to get out of the city.

On other matters I was cheered up on Thursday by spending the evening is a wine bar not unlike the one in the picture below. I knew it would be a good evening when a friend turned up with three single savvy Italians. Conversation swiftly turned to those subjects that concern us all. “Italian girls” said one of the guys “don’t know what they want. You ask them out and they say no but really they mean yes”. Suddenly Italian sign language for 'What the fuck are you talking about?' – fingers placed together and moved back and forth from the mouth – was in liberal use. Undetered, he continued. A typical conversation, it was explained, went something like this:
“Would you like to go out to dinner with me?”.
“Oh, go on, I’ll take you somewhere really nice”.
“No, I’m not interested”.
“I really like you, go on, go on”.
If I want an Italian girl, I was told, I’ll need to ask several times.
“I can’t do that” I replied, “I’m English”. I tried to explain:
“If she says no, well, that’s a rejection; you’ve gotta respect that, accept it and move on”.
“Oh no...” interrupted the sole representative of Italian women, “..it’s if she says yes you want to worry. Just like if she kisses you on the first date - then you know things aren't going well".

“So what do you do in England?” I was asked.
“Well...” I said, swiftly adding provisos to remove myself from the generalisations that were about to follow, “..presumably you’ve met through mutual friends. So you get all those friends together and have a night out. You get her drunk and then, at a suitable point in the evening, you ‘accidently’ bump into her in a dark corner somewhere and...”. I trailed off, thinking the rest was self-explanatory.
“And what?” asked all the Italians.
“Well, you try and, y’know...”.
“What?”. It was clear I was going to have to ignore my Englishness and be direct for once:
“You try and snog her”.
Blank faces abound. And then I realised: to snog isn’t part of your average EFL lesson. I resisted the temptation to offer a demonstration. “You try and kiss her”, I explained.
“What, just like that?”.
“Well, yeah; but by then you should know if she’s going to appreciate it”.
Conversation lulled as the Italians mulled over these strange rituals.

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