The church in Piazza Navona by night
All at once this is both utterly amazing and surreal and bizarre, and absolutely No Big Deal. If, Internet, you so desire to continue the illusion that I am my own heroine in a shitty B-list Hollywood chick-flick (I DO) I think this is the point at which the first act has seen its close. The pavement-pounding, frustratingly un-concrete, misunderstanding-fuelled scenes of the first 30 minutes where I had no home, no money, and no prospects have given way to the bit where I just Get My Head Down And Get On With It.
Because I am so good at that.
Getting On With It has seen me walking around my new (FUCKING FLOODED) apartment in my underwear for the past two weeks, thinking all four of the men I live with are gay.
(And actually, let’s just tidy-up the flooded apartment story whilst we are here: the flat downstairs were on holiday when it happened and just got back two days ago. Their ceiling was ruined. We have to pay for it. THIS IS SO PAINFUL THAT I CAN’T EVEN MAKE A JOKE ABOUT IT.)
Turns out that I really need to hone up on my Gay or European skill set because nope. Not gay. They’ve been getting a free-ass peep show of all my best and worst bits, and haven’t even brought me a drink yet. The truly devastating bit is that if I were honestly trying to woo a straight man, I wouldn’t do it in my underwear. I’m a ‘personality’ girl- Rosie Huntington-Whiteley I ain’t. Even if I am splashing around the paddling-pool of my flooded bedroom as if in my own version of Flashdance.
When the floor was underwater it looked like the sea
I have been trying to make Italian friends fully-clothed, in general. I am too broke/lazy/cheap to pay for formal Italian lessons just now- and, not to mention, considering I spent the morning Googling ‘jobs in Istanbul’ probably not going to be here longer than my contract anyway- so signed up for a conversation exchange program. This is not unakin to online dating. The difference is, with an online conversation exchange profile you don’t get to see anyone’s photograph before you meet them. Awkward.
Conversation exchange saw me receive 22 emails in the evening following my joining. All of these were from men. Some seemed very lovely and genuine: “I be pleased to be your Italian teacher and make good talking for you”. Some were a little more, how should I say this? Italian: “If you are open-minded, and I think you are (*insert wink-y emoticon*) this is my Facebook…” Obvs I clicked on the link, and yeah he was cute, but even me and my sexually dubious moral compass thought it was perhaps just a little forward.
Although, at this point in my narrative, it is worth mentioning that any Italian man one meets will have no qualms asking if you have a boyfriend as their way of introduction. Otherwise, I suppose, they might be in danger of wasting their time. Maybe I should go out wearing less, after all. You know- just to be clear about things.
Aaaaaand since we’re playing Gay or European, I’d also like to take this opportunity to point out that often, the men in question are just as confused themselves. Last week my ex-pat friend told me that he was given a Vespa-ride around the city by his new male-friend-with-a-girlfriend, and when they parked up and went into some nearby bushes, my ex-pat friend blew him. But, of course, this doesn’t make the male-friend-with-the-girlfriend gay. Of course not. Nor is it cheating.
Similarly, I have an actor friend who tours Italy and his favourite story involves a man in front of him, holding his own ankles in preparation for pleasure, and as my friend bonked him from behind, looking around and enjoying the view, he realised that he was surrounded by photographs of this man’s wife and three kids. Who lived there. And were probably upstairs.
Conversation Exchange has proved fruitful thus far, with a 32 year-old theatre worker and an Investment Banker proving in particular to be wonderful partners.
It did occur to me though, as I waited to meet the banker for the first time, that even though I sat on the steps of a landmark Roman building silently saying to myself over and over again Please don’t be a weirdo, Please don’t be a weirdo, Please don’t be a weirdo it was highly plausible that my language partners could be absolutely normal, wishing the exact same thing (although, in their head, they would be making this wish in Italian, and I don’t know the vocab to translate that. I can, however, ask where the bathroom is) and HOLD ON. What if I AM a weirdo?
I make friends wherever I go...
Essentially, I’m taking a sort of be my friend attitude to all of this, and who goes online to make friends? A certain type of person, right? The type of person often one doesn’t want to meet? And they could be all ‘Let’s exchange language points’ and I’m all ‘Yeah, but can we just hang out in this pub and talk in English so I don’t feel lonely?’ Add this to the fact that I consider this an entirely permissible way to make friends because my horoscope for October says that I will make fruitful relationships via the online world, and November is a good month for marriage (FUCK YOU, ASTROLOGY BOOK) and really, I’m just a recipe for fruit-and-nut-soup that means clothing or no, maybe I shouldn’t be ‘making friends’ because I don’t wear enough in the house and take advice from reduced-price Gemini guides I got at a petrol station.
£2.99 for a 15-month forecast? BARGAIN. And it's all true.
I’m not sure I’d want to meet me. Would you?*
*Internet, please note the rhetorical nature of this question. Kthxby.