The Spy That Loved Thee: Celebrating The Average Femme

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 Curious?
Guilty.
I had to see who she was –  ‘the (ex) wife.’
I dug around/cyber-snooped.
I found a photo.
A daughter, a husband and a wife…
She wasn’t what I expected.
She looked sour, bored.
Uninspired.
He was in the photo smiling. Why wasn’t she?
I’d be all over that (him), smiling like an ass.
(And there are ridiculous old photos of teenage me, somewhere to prove that fact.)
I sort of expected she’d have at least some of what Silvia has got going on…
italian wife

How I see the quintessential ‘super-femme’ Italian woman. Silvia Colloca is fab and probably is a rock-star in the sack, cooks in stilettos, never gets bits of tomato stuck in her mesh top, PLUS she wrote a cook book (of course she did) and it’s probably amazing. Photo by by Chris Chen.

I was relieved he wasn’t married to size 6 Silvia…
or any of her far less functional, stiletto wearing
shallow arm-candy doppelgangers with wooden pussies.

Then it came to (shallow) me… The fact C liked (likes) mediocre me in the first place is actually a major coup for average-looking femmes everywhere. I was/am the un-official queen of average and I could have my Hugh-Jackman-calibre holy-grail-of-manhood – IF I wanted to.  But really, he shouldn’t have settled for a grumpier imitation.
Maybe the key to my success is that I was cool. I didn’t drool (at least not in front of him), I wasn’t possessive, I never fell over myself catering to him, and I made him wait days for an answer after he asked me out. After all, I was entertaining other offers.
Now,  despite the distance between us – he’s back, middle-aged and as grey as I am. I went from knowing nothing about his life to full disclosure. He calls me his ‘best friend,’ sends me casual pics of his lunch or where he’s hiking, and notably goofy selfies from bad angles (and he’s still hot) –  I could never get away with that. Really, I’m all about accepting my own mediocrity and good angles and anything less than 20 degrees below eye level makes me someone’s grandma.
See what I mean?
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Be cool…

 

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Meltdowns & The Return of Cristianity

Last December, matters had come to a particular blistering head. My toxic emotional-puss finally surfaced via a four-hour session of uncontrollable sobbing. Curled up in the fetal position and mummified in my duvet, the epiphany which should have been no surprise, was that my life supremely sucked.

Person sleeping under blanket with feet sticking out

What happened to my former self? The ass-kicking warrior of independence and self-preservation, and the ejector of life skill-less man-children from my personal zone? I had become but a quasi-friendless and tragic domestic with a bum elbow due to scouring bathtub grunge. I was a a perma-frown reject dressed in tshirts caked in dog fur while chained to a hamster wheel of monotony.

Adding insult to injury, it was painfully obvious that the only sympathy I could muster was a “there, there” pat-on-the-back consolation (without even a cup of tea –  typically offered by seemingly every other stiff upper lipped) and that this obviously wasn’t how I wanted to spend the next few decades of my life. The realisation was that enough was enough and think of a plan, as soon enough I’d have severe dehydration and a face resembling beef jerky if I didn’t stop the water works and pull myself together.

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Keep rollin’ rollin’ rollin’…

For months I had been toying with the idea of buying a property and moving to France to start an eco-tourism/hospitality business, but as Sir English had blatantly voiced  NO intentions of relocating, and me going it alone with no contacts, few language skills other than food and how to ask for a ham sandwich in French – wasn’t exactly going to make it easy unless I was going to be squatting in a deli. And Italy? Well that’s out because it’s impossible to live there. (Isn’t it?)

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photo by Anna Di Vincenzo

It was when I came down with a fever and was bedridden after Christmas, I began to wallow in diabolical nostalgia with thoughts of ‘the old country’. Places I had been and places I knew of , but hadn’t been, and that one magical place in the hills of Abruzzo where I spent most of my summer evenings when I was 15, parked on the grass lip-locked opposite a waterfall, with him: Cristian, my holy-grail of manhood (although he wasn’t quite there yet). I retraced what I remembered of it – the route we took just past the familiar fork in the road, and although little looked remotely recognisable during my Google ascent, I found it. It was still there and exactly how I remembered it. Thank you for feeding my nostalgia frenzy Google Maps.

Keeping the thought of HIM aside (very aside due to his inconsistency and theoretical comings and goings in my life – he couldn’t influence any decision either way),  why not look at properties or possibilities there? Did I really need to live in the south  when I could be in an entirely new place between the mountains (REAL mountains) and the sea, and setting up a homestead with the best of both worlds accessible?  No, I didn’t, and  , it’s not about him either – it’s about ME and my life and my zone (wherever that may be).

 

mindreaders

Damn. He’s got that radar thing…

Within 48 hours, I received a text. Never quite giving up the lease, renting space in my head and dropping by unannounced for a quick peek inside. I had barely heard from him in the past year, his ears must have been ringing and  he surfaced yet again.

Be cool.

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And so you’re texting me because???

I politely obliged his queries and small-talk offerings on recent events, indulged news of his various routines, and lifestyle changes including the fact he was now separated from his wife of 20 years, who currently lives with his daughter in the bottom unit of his now subdivided home.  How lame family-sitcom of them, unless of course they’re marvellously happy and all super social and friendly like something out of a gag-inducing episode of Modern Family.  However I suspect not.  Further back in September during a short exchange he mentioned he was separating but had had tried to work things out. In turn that was my cue to distance myself from that particular Italian tragedy, and gift the thumbs up icon (cueing my feeble support) as I had already heard this 3 years before when he asked me when I was on my way to Umbria, if the bus stopped near any crossroads where I could get off so we could meet half way.  There had been a desperation permeating from his compliments  – all thinly saran-wrapped in bullshit, and I had no intention of being anyone’s rebound then, and I sure wasn’t going to play second fiddle to any ex-wife (then or now).

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If you’re going to live above your ex, you may as well just live in your parent’ spare bedroom. Unless, of course your house is attached to theirs…. just like his.

But at the end of the day, I’m not a mean person and I’d never want to hurt anyone, so I’d never tell him I thought it was fucked and probe as why if she doesn’t want to be with him – she doesn’t get off her ass,  exercise her own new-found freedom and independence and find her own place to live.  No No no… because he has a preconceived notion I am nice ALL THE TIME. When it’s just just me keeping my opinions to myself. So I changed the subject and in my feverish haze gave him my ‘life’s too short’ rant and mentioned I’d like to plan an Eco-Tourism project, perhaps in Abruzzo, for which he actually gave me some useful information via government incentives and tax breaks for new businesses. (I’ll award him brownie points for that.)

Since this most recent exchange, as I sit back and ponder what what MY FUTURE could hold, he texts a few times a week now and I oblige, taking it all in with a grain of salt…
Because I just happen to have some idea of what I WANT, and if my feet end up as the only pair in this frame, I’m pretty good with that.

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Q: Are you f’n crazy? A: Yes, I believe that is a distinct possibility.

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I said it would never happen, I’d never do it, or even consider it, as I barely escaped with what remained of my sanity. But the truth of the matter is, I’m a sucker for punishment and I miss it like f’ck and I am seriously thinking about moving back THERE.

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Seriously though, I’m not going back for THEM, their amateur sex antics and crappy blue Fiats.

I’ve had a good 4+ years here in the UK, sort of. If you don’t include the fact I was underpaid, undervalued, bullied in my workplace and lost all but a shred of my self-confidence. My mojo had been crushed beyond repair, or so I thought at the time.

The MAIN BLAME AWARD goes to…

She may compliment your shoes but she’ll shred you & your work  – because she can.

I chalk it up to a woman I call ‘The Pale Rider’ a bloodless, pasty-complexion micro-managing know-it-all that should have dressed in black robes carried a scythe to live up to her wrath on creativity and one who wouldn’t know it if it were five tonne anvil and it fell crushing her to a to a pulpy sludge on dingy stick-on office carpet. As one of the many minions, you were told repeatedly and explicitly to refer to ‘The Bible’  – which was a past issue of the mag she would have overseen and what she considered as the perfect issue, but in actual fact was the blandest of bland templated format. However this stone law would go out the window when she was was having a bad day or one of her fits of Münchhausen Syndrome. (What does it really say about a boss referring to their work as a divine example? Yeah.) She ruled the realm of publishing purgatory in the East Midlands where you’re less than nothing, and even if you’re talented – you’re ultimately disposable.  Yeah, I worked for, and was published in a national magazine – SO WHAT?

One day last June I decided I was tired of anxiety attacks, crying in the bathroom and grinding my teeth while sitting at my desk under under institutional lighting and this oppressive regime. I paced the office perimeter three times before mustering the courage to hand in my resignation then I waked out carrying my coffee mug and whatever shred of dignity I had left, without regret. However I did stop writing almost altogether. (This is my comeback at overcoming that glitch.)

giphy-downsized-large.gifIt’s not like I feel England has kicked my ass, it’s actually toughened me up and I’ve expanded creativity in many other ways. Living in the UK has been a learning experience, and I’ve evolved and grown with knowledge and experience that I never thought possible, but I finally had to ask myself, “Is this where I want to spend the rest of my life?” It’s not. Sparing you all from all my moaning and grievances regarding politics, prices and quality of life (like everywhere else in the world), I’m just not inspired, I need Italy.  (Perhaps now I’m probably in a little bit of a better position in some ways, to handle life there.) Italy filters out the noise of the civilized English-speaking world and even when she’s kicking my ass and things are shit, she tells me not to worry, it’s all going to be fine and that I should just make myself some pasta and tomato sauce, just chill the f’ck out and ride the wave. Which is usually spot on.

Extracting myself from England and jumping into a new unknown is terrifying and I expect will be a lengthy process logistically. I have no idea how I’m going to do tit and I don’t expect any transition to be easy. I predict many fits of tears, deep breaths and shaking fists. She will undoubtedly test my patience over and over, but I need her love, lawlessness and infuriating vibe to feed my crazy. I need my wonderful friends that love me, and ‘get me.’ I need sunshine, fabulous food, inspiration… and my old eyes back.

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Posted in depression, European men, ex boyfriends, exes, humour, Italian life, Italian men, Italy, Italy living, Life in Italy, Living in Italy, lost love, positive thinking, single girl, Uncategorized, writers, x-pat, x-pats | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

The Bum-Fondling Chair, Gweneth Paltrow & ‘THE MOVE-IN MERGER’

Flashback: November 2014

‘Roots’ is a scary word. I don’t mean that in a 1977 miniseries’ depiction of African slavery kind-of-way starring the chap from Star Trek The Next Generation.

In this instance I haven’t found Kunta Kinte, but I did find a nice Englishman. Although I do have far less enthusiasm than James Earl Jones, and there’s no over-the-top 70’s music score playing in the background.

gwyneth-paltrow

Stop right there.

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I have only come here seeking knowledge, things they would not teach me of in college.

I’ve just bought a house 3 blocks from my rental and I’m moving in with Sir English. If Gweneth Paltrow were here she’d be inventing words for me like ‘move-in mergers’ and I’d have to tell her to please stop and “Go fix me some macrobiotic soba noodle salad, and while you’re at it grab the bottle of Grey Goose Vodka from the cupboard because we be goin’ on a bender.” Buying a house is a huge deal in which a certain sense of mature responsibility is required. As is living with someone you’re in a relationship with. It’s a compromise, and in my case it’s refraining from any personal grossness in the company of anyone other than my canine companions, not conjuring homicidal mania if there is a drop of pee (that isn’t mine) on the rim of the toilet bowl, and holding my tongue over the 500 tea-lights Sir English has seemed to have acquired – that will never get lit in either of our lifetimes. Unless of course we invite Sting and his mates over for a house warming and a music video shoot.

However I must admit my  sense of logic and spirit of compromise did almost waiver momentarily. The conversation/confession in question took place at ‘The Lad Cave’ aka. Sir English’s former abode. A place where stains on various surfaces have taken an oath of secrecy and mystery particles trapped in the cracks of the wood flooring could keep CSI Analysis Officers in overtime for decades. I glared in disbelief at the peeling paint and crumbling plaster barely concealed behind a wooden chest, then turned to face him standing in the bedroom doorway…

Me: I’m sorry.

Sir English: It’s ok, I’ll just move this stuff out of the way so you can vacuum this spot.

Me: No that’s not it… I am sorry for what I am thinking.

Sir English: What?

Me: If I was something like a supernatural entity with supreme control over the universe and real ‘superpowers’ , I’d tell you you’ve got 30 minutes to box all your most worldly posessions worth saving, then I’d throw something down from the heavens like a lightning bolt and burn this place to the ground.

Sir English: Oh.

Me: Sorry.

However despite everything, I was still counting my blessings as he gave me free reign to decorate our new home as I wished, while renting his flat to a friend for the time being, thus not moving all of his things. Notably he wouldn’t be taking along his pine particleboard furnishings or this literal monstrocity I fondly refer to as ‘The Molesting Hand-Chair’…

I feel dirty already.

Ick. I feel dirty already.

Thus saving me a rotator cuff injury from hauling it to a vacant lot and a few pounds on the purchase of  a can of gasoline…

And a gal’s really gotta appreciate that kind of consideration.

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Un-dead EXs and The Shocking Normality Compared to a Former Existence

Crying LifeSomewhere along my proverbial ‘line’ I all but stopped writing. The critic, aka. ‘my annoying inner Gremlin’ repeating: “What’s the point? You have nothing to say. You have a decent man in your life, you’re not poking holes in your coat pockets scavenging for loose change, there are no more tick infestations, leaky roofs, crappy blue Fiats, Italian MacDaddys, or bi-weekly public transit strikes… and no more poverty – YOU are actually now part owner of your first house!”

No more landlords called Adolf.

Casa mia.  Central heating and no more landlords called Adolf.

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“What should I do, oh wise one? I’m totally boring and I suck.”

So having it seemingly together made me rather fall apart creatively, and I convinced myself that if I wasn’t a completely, socially disfunctional expat living in Italy, that I’d have nothing left to write about and eventually, that I actually couldn’t write at all. In retrospect, one of the best things that came from my ‘Blog-spew’ were other the bloggers with whom I connected, ‘My Blog-Fam’ I like to call them. The inspirational writers and lovely creative folk I loved to visit via the blogsphere and who had in turn followed me as well. A few of which are still posting, and the others all have but vanished like myself. One in particular  I idolized for her wonderful writing talent that included a carousel of vivid experiences complete with human versions of nymphs, minotaurs and unicorns. After meeting on numerous occasions. I have come to consider her my mortal oracle, overall touchstone to reality, and most importantly a friend. Last summer over tea we touched upon the subject of blogging habits. As both of us had stopped blogging on  a more regularly basis at approximately the same time. She seemed to sum it up for both of us – all in one sentence. “I’m just not that character anymore.” It was my paralyzing reality. I wondered how many of the others’ lives had also changed to an extent that they felt they just didn’t feel the need or desire to carry on. Perhaps it was that writing was like the therapy they no longer needed?  Was I was being over analytical?  Maybe they just got busy?  Regardless, if I wasn’t the rib and s cuddlescharacter anymore what did I actually have to contribute? Should I succumb to guilt and start sharing casserole recipes? Or post annoying daily photos of how unbelievably adorable my English Setters are, as I do on Facebook? Ultimately I blogged neither, as the life I was living was deemed comfortable and irrelevant and I stopped writing all together.

But alas, doesn’t it just take an ex-boyfriend you broke up with in 2001, crawling out from under his 600 thread-count marital paradise long enough to grab his iPhone and friend you on Facebook, completely out-of-the-blue, which in turn  – jet-fuels you back into some literary blogspew or perhaps more accurately – a cranky rant?

He was 'The Metro-Sexual.'

He was ‘The Metro-Sexual.’

‘Why the f’ck are YOU friending ME?’ was my first thought as I wiped the sleep from the corner of my eyes and threw back my last gulp of espresso. I was the one that wasn’t “corporate” enough for you, remember? I held on to my proverbial ark, as then came the additional flood of unwelcome flashbacks. A 3-year term of vanity, narcissism, judgement, great sex, harsh criticisms, loneliness, turmoil, great sex, neglect, my own flaming neurosis over it all, and did I mention great sex? Sadly, that was one of the few things we had going for us, and prior to the day I handed his apartment keys back to him and walked out after 3 years, the soured cream part of our relationship had already been well within its range of expiry. Did He not remember that a few months following our departure, there was the ‘break-up sex?’ Him telling me he was sorry that he didn’t accept me/tried to change me, attempting to get me drunk on several Vodka-Cran at a gay bar (not knowing that during a trip to the men’s room I informed the bartender of the ex’s transparent scheme and to please refrain from serving me anymore drinks with alcohol).  Then back at his place…

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Him: “What is this? Fuck and run?

Me: “I got to work in the morning. Sorry. It was fun. Bye!”

And most importantly, not long after – the last thing I ever said to him after he told me not to be ‘bar meat’ when he heard I had been partying with 30 US Navy Seals at a club one Friday night after work. (side note: Which was EPIC)

“Really? I thought you liked those types. Y’know… YOU wanted to be ‘friends,’ but I don’t really think I like you as a person.”

How does one forget that? Is that some sort of ‘syndrome? Does morbid curiosity over an ex-girlfriend cause confusion, blurred vision, or selective memory?

Regardless, after asking myself the same questions repeatedly to the point of mental exhaustion,  I concluded I wasn’t exactly the most grounded or sane individual back then. I was still on training wheels, trying to figure who I was and my baggage wasn’t exactly light and portable.

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I decided to let it go and accept his friend request.  If he’s curious, let him look.   Maybe he just didn’t care about all that mess of the past. Maybe I shouldn’t either. People change, people grow.  I have.  A little small-talk or exchange of pleasantries never killed anyone… and I’m still alive. 😉

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Whatever happened to Cakes McCain?

cupMeet the grand master of procrastination and the poster-girl for lazy. Everyday for weeks (OK, months), I had planned my return to the blogsphere, however I just never got around to it, and felt like for the most part, life was actually too good to report back.  Even returning to ‘the old country’ for a week last February with it’s blip of inspiration via Mediterranean air, amazing food, and ever-present population of MacDaddy creeps and crappy blue Fiats were not sufficient enough inspiration to ruffle my goat and get me off my lazy rump to even remotely kick-start any half-assed creative effort.

Italian wonder-dog extraordinare: ‘Riba-Jane Pepper-Paw’

Incidentally while I wasn’t stuffing my face with Pizza Margherita and Pistachio-flavoured gelato,  I was arranging for the adoption a 3-legged canine to add to my fur-family, thus the inevitable growing number of dog-hair tumble-weeds that seem to float in suspended animation from one side of my living room to the other, and the renegade hairs that end up sticking to my underwear.

Alas, what can I say? Life is not too shabby at the moment. It’s a far yodel from my old Italian hood. My gripes are more of the ‘civilized world’ variety, and I assure you all that during my hiatus from the blogsphere I have not adopted religious fanaticism, bared my breasts in McDonald’s, or shaved my head and declared sweatpants as my standard uniform. There is no extreme angst, drama, or deal-breaking cultural differences. How could I not love a nation of tweed-wearing gentlemen that instead of using the words: fuck, screw, slam, bang – substitute them with such whimsical vocabulary as rumpy-pumpy and jiggery-pokery?

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It has officially been 1 year in my new English hood aka. ‘The Best Place to Live in Britain 2013,’ while simultaneously travelling the road of mature relationship. Here in my own abode with my Italian hunting dogs, and no longer imposing on the hospitality of Sir English within the confines of his micro man-cave with creepy velvet hand chair. That too-close-for comfort scenario being no Von Trapp singers’ picnic for either of us, as I was forced to share space with old transit tickets, waiting-to-be-recycled padded envelopes, greeting cards from holidays past, 21 coffee mugs, several model cars, a lava lamp, and 12 months of Belinda Carlisle circa 2002.

He may be mad about you, but this man-cave is not big enough for the both of us.

'The Crappy Blue Fiat.'

Be gone blue crap-wagon!

The sight of this horrid automobile that had infiltrated my pristine suburban British neighborhood was but a gentle reminder that crappy blue Fiats and the MacDaddy Creeps that own them, have helped mold the person I am today. I have unintentionally swapped the standard  cringe-inducing Italian ‘man-child’ along with their sub-standard autos, for a plethora of slick classic cars, posh accents, costuming up for a cornucopia  of fab festivals, and more often than not often getting really inspired by all the awesomeness.

We occasionally min-road trip and do all kinds of really cool shit where I get to dress up…

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vintage affair may 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So what now Cakes McCain? The fate of ‘Pasta for One?’ When essentially now it’s ‘Tea for Two?’  Not long ago I met my ‘blogfamily’ sister for some quality time in the big city, and we discussed just this.  Her personal take: “I haven’t written in the blog ages. Things are different now. Life’s evolved and I’m not that ‘character’ any more.” This was a notion seeming all too familiar. Was my editorial-therapy, only temporary? Was my creativity fueled by angst and frustration? Maybe I’ll think about it tomorrow…

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Posted in dating, dating rejects, European men, hoarding, humour, Italian life, Italian men, Italy, Italy living, Life in Italy, Living in Italy, losers, MacDaddy, perverts, players, relationships, self examination, social misfit, Uncategorized, writers, x-pat, x-pats | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

It’s my blog and I’ll bitch if I want to

Recently a FB contact took a pot shot at me  in response to a quip I made on another friend’s post. The post was regarding odd couples she had observed that day, and my comment went something like this: “How about the bikini-clad girls and men in angora sweaters on Southern Italian beaches?”

The response: “I don’t know why you lived there for so long when all you do is take pot shots at Italian men every chance you get.” Adding that they had been always well dressed and most polite and respectful towards her. I am pleased for her, but that is HER experience, and it simply wasn’t mine.

Wait.
Huh?
Every chance I get?

I don’t believe I have been spending my days lingering on the edge of my seat waiting to plug in the ‘Italian dude on-the- make, douche-bag factor’ in every social interaction…

“Hey Cakes, How’s it going?”

“Hey! Pretty good.  I was with Sir English last night. He’s so lovely! He  took me to dinner, we watched a film, and he stayed over. Did I ever tell you my Ital girlfriend Tani told me never to let an Italian man in my house – not even to use the bathroom,  as he would expect to get laid if I let him in.  Sick huh?”

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The last time I did an inventory of my time management and level of preoccupation these days – It did not include Italian men, only one certain English one. However, as we rarely communicate,  I suspect this person could have read my blog –  even though my posts have been far and few between in the past year since moving to England.

And what about my blog’s content? I write this blog for entertainment. My content is (was) about my single life, my ideas and MY OWN observations. Most importantly poking fun at weird Italian men is a part of my ammo.  It in no way overwhelms and infiltrates my personal/social life. I don’t harbour an incessant need to go around repeating my past social and sexual liaisons with this particular demographic, or opinions from this blog to anyone in my social sphere, that will listen.

Unlike the person that made the comment (who incidentally is a native Italian woman – now living several years in the UK), I was a single expat living full-time in a foreign land where sexism and traditional roles are alive and well, and where several men have impenetrable preconceived notion that foreigners – especially North American women are easy pickins, and they – the Italians, are the best lovers in the world. Both of which fantasies they should consider surrendering.

In their infinite wisdom both my Ital gal pals Tani and Franca, told me: “The men think you are easier to take to bed because you are ‘American’ and you are free. They don’t act this way so much with Italian women.” My 2 Ital gal pals were often aghast at the behavior of men I was often subjected to. I was propositioned, followed, stalked, groped and harassed. I don’t claim it occurred everyday, but it did occur, and far more than when I was cuter, in my 20’s and lived in Canada.

But why would I want to repeatedly peg an entire demographic as hairy, cliche, or overall sleazy for that matter?

If you are even vaguely familiar with my cast here in the blog, you know I haven’t forgotten my decent, respectful Italian male friends in the ‘hood ie.  ‘Wingman,’ ‘Dog Guy,’ ‘Mr. Jesus,’ and even a few others not mentioned, for who I am very indebted to for of all their support and various acts of kindness.

I don’t expect everyone to enjoy what they read, some may even hate ‘Pasta for One.’
The solution is simple, just don’t read it.

ALL of this – It’s MY experience…
And I’ll bitch if I want to.

(And by the way – Next report coming live from Italy. xo)

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