Friday, February 12, 2010

Of Men, Women, And Italian Escapades, Part 4:

Italian Escapades:
Vespa Man, or Why Am I Such A Fuck-Up?

The dog is cute. It looks kind of like my best friend’s Australian shepherd, and it’s waiting patiently outside the small grocer’s down the block from my apartment for its master to return. It grins up at me, panting slightly, and, a sucker always for the canines, particularly good-looking ones, such as this one (just like with men and green-eyed people, or green-eyed men especially,) I smile back.

As I am smiling like a special type of fool at the dog, someone slides out of the door in front of me. I look up and see a youngish, stocky man in fashionable black leather-gear with sandy hair tucked under a helmet standing in front of me. “Hi,” he says, and thrown at the English with or without the accent behind it, I actually look back at him, catching his twinkling light eyes.

He reminds me, in the instant I really take him in, of the geeky Australian transfer student turned Eevil Keenival who was the hero of Grease 2. (Not such a great movie. That dreamboat and a young and always fabulous Michelle Phieffer were the only things that saved it.)

I take another pensive drag from the end of my cigarette, and he tries again. “Hello.” He’s careful to keep his body language open and friendly as I breeze by, not threatening or insinuating anything more than a greeting—maybe I’ll say something as I get closer? Maybe his magnetic attraction will just do the job and pull me right in to that black Italian-leathered muscular chest? I appreciate it—I appreciate all off it—though I don’t say anything back.

I walk another ten strides before it hits me. If Vespa man can see me like this, in a plaid men’s flannel shirt and bulky winter coat and my kicked-to-shit Uggs, desperately sucking on the end of a cigarette like it is my lifeline, hair tossed into a hot mess by the wind, and still think enough to want to say hi—what the fuck am I doing, walking away? If he is seeing me at one of my emotional lows, of which you conveniently get to miss out on the tempest that you’ve stirred up, and he wants to actually do something about it, even just greet me and chat with me on the sidewalk—why the fuck am I running away? Is that really the only mode I know how to operate on?

I look back. He’s still there, standing beside his Vespa, a vision in leather and nice hand-made shoes. I watch him swing a leg over the seat and settle in, turning the tiny engine over. He then motions to the dog, who rises from his watch by the shop’s stoop and jumps up into his master’s lap, riding in front of him. A man, his Vespa, and his dog. It’s such a picture of domestic Italian bachelordom bliss that it pulls at my ovaries somewhere in the same vicinity that really cute toddlers do. It doesn’t mean that I necessarily want one, but just for a moment, I think about what it could have been like if I actually said hi back. If we traded names. If I asked to pet his grinning dog and he told me it’s name. If I accepted an invitation for a ride on the back of the Vespa, something I want to check off the list of Thing To Do Before I Die or Before I Leave.

I think about it for a moment, watching his taillights fade. And then for another moment. And I find that somewhere in the space of these two moments, I’m less angry at you, and more angry at myself. I’m letting these moments go. These moments that I may never find again, great adventures, new acquaintances, and smiling European dogs. And for what? You’re having your moments at home, no explanations needed. I should be having mine. What I do here will mean just as little as what I didn’t do here when I get back, if not even less. Tit for tat. Vespa for Virginia.


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