Sunday, December 14, 2014

Experiences in "Putting Myself Out There"

I spent most of last year very focused on the situation I'd gotten myself into: new job, new country, new language, new friends, new apartment, new adventure. A new man seemed like the absolute last thing I could focus on in a million years. This year I've been, as they say, "putting myself out there" a little more. When a man approaches me, I don't immediately run away or pretend  to  not understand what they're saying (or not pretend-- sometimes I really don't!). I don't think I necessarily am looking to date, but the idea also isn't the worst one I've ever heard of. I really loved being a boyfriend-haver in college, but this 20-something single-life is also pretty fun. Maybe it's Italy, maybe it's just life in general, but I'm finding that the whole flirting thing leads to some interesting, hilarious, and disturbing situations. Here are some scenarios I've found myself in these last few weeks.

Well, I guess I can’t hide my crazy :)
Jessica Day is my soul sister

A truly beautiful man approached me at a club. 

Truly, truly beautiful. I was coming back from the bathroom and trying to make my way back to my friends, when he stopped directly in front of me. He delivered his line in heavily accented English: "You are beautiful, kiss me." Um... What? The only other English phrase he seemed to know was, "I am a Sicilian gentleman," and he repeated it a number of times. A little while later, I was trying to get him to dance with me rather than attack me. Anyone who has seen me dance can attest to the fact that my go-to move is what I like to call "Throwing Out the Snaps," which consists of alternating snapping hands and wiggling your shoulders a little (very rhythmically), and occasionally adding in a ballerina twirl. It's quite elegant. As I tried to make him twirl, he looked at me like I was a complete lunatic and walked away without another word. Apparently silliness is not a desirable quality to Sicilian gentlemen.

*Throwing Out the Snaps Fun Fact: I taught my move to my friends' 7 year old, ninja-loving daughter and she loved it. She thought it was the best dance move ever! Her exact words were, "This is great! It's like you're snapping out a protective barrier around yourself. Like a shield." I guess, in a way, The Snaps do create a protective barrier around me...


Fast-forward to a few weeks later, same location. 

It's Fashion Week in Milan, and the place is absolutely full of models. I swear I saw Kendall Jenner- this girl there looked just like her, and the next day the little Kardashian sister Instagramed a picture from Milan! Anyway, this guy is talking to me and being very flirtatious. He keeps telling me how beautiful and little I am, but then glances up at the bar in disgust. Each time I've been to this particular place, there have been girls dancing on the bar. He leans over and says to me, "Look at those girls. Those thighs... McDonalds." That makes no sense, and I'm sure it's just that I'm not hearing him correctly so I ask him to repeat himself. This time he tells me, "I look at their legs, their thighs, and I know they eat McDonalds. Foods that make them fat." Are you kidding me? They are literally runway models, paid to be pretty and skinny and he thinks they're too fat?! I don't give him my number, but I do shout my name over the music and tell him he can find me on Facebook if he wants. The next day, even though I spell my name weird and so am probably hard to find on there, I have a message from him. Direct quote: "It was a pleasure to meet such a funny girl from NY... I always find fat or angry girls from there." WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE, JUDGEY MCJUDGEY PANTS!?!? Needless to say, I did not respond.

This one isn't funny, and it isn't flirtatious-man related. 

Other than knowing how to tell cab drivers how to get home, this pretty much sums up
my situation. 
It was actually one of the scariest moments I've ever had. Part of this "Putting Myself Out There" mission is that I've been going into the city a lot, and therefore taking quite a few cabs. After Verona, I hopped in a cab back to Opera. My driver was a elderly man and I noticed immediately that he, unlike most others in Milan, didn't have a GPS. Now, I can't say much in Italian, but I've perfected my taxi speech: "Opera, per favore (then I tell them my address)." If they hesitate at all, I say "Via Ripamonte a Vigentino, e sinestra attraverso Noverasco di Opera (Ripamonte street to Vigentino, and left through Noverasco to Opera)." There is never any hesitation after that and the ride from this particular cab stand home takes no more than 15 minutes, 20 euro. This time, I must have been a little distracted. I was playing Sudoku on my phone, and when I looked up a little while later we were somewhere I didn't recognize at all. The trouble was that I didn't know how to tell him that, and wondered if he was just going a different way. I let it go for a little while, but the longer we drove, the more nervous I became. Finally I started looking at the GPS on my phone and saw we were headed to a completely different town. I was very turned around and now didn't know how to communicate or how to direct him back to where I lived. At this point we'd been in the car for at least 25 minutes. I reminded him my address and offered my phone to him to see the GPS but he didn't want it. We drove through another town, but by then it was dark and he started driving verrrrrry slowly (less than 15mph), and cars were starting to honk and pass us. He was getting very upset and started yelling and swearing I'm assuming at the people behind us (maybe at me? I don't actually know). At least three times he pulled over (once in the middle of a roundabout!) to ask pedestrians or other drivers where we were. I felt bad for him, but the meter was ticking up past 30 euro and I had absolutely no idea how help him find my apartment.

Don't you DARE "Grazie" me!!!
Anyways, nearly an hour later he finally found my apartment. I had nervously looked on Google Translate for how to tell him that there was no way I could pay 55 euro for what should have been a quick ride home but was relieved when he said what I thought was 15 euro. I can't count past ten in Italian without a serious amount of thought, and handed him a 20 trying to be kind. He looked back at me and started speaking very quickly about needing 35 more and I realized that even though he had taken me on a crazy drive, he still expected the full amount. I nervously told him what I'd been practicing in my head, that usually it was a quick ride, it was only 20 euro typically, and that's what I could give him. He hit the lock button from the front seat, and started screaming at me about having a family and needing my money and wasting his entire night. I pulled out the map on my phone again and showed him where we'd been, where we went, and where we were now, and how he should have gone but he just kept screaming at me and wouldn't let me out of the car! Finally, I threw 30 euro at him and he unlocked the door, suddenly and terrifyingly switching from screaming to smiling, saying "Ahh grazie, va bene (which is like, it's ok)." I got out, slammed the door shut, and screamed at him "NO! NO VA BENE!!!!" which I don't think makes sense, but hopefully he still got the gist of what I wanted to say. In hindsight, I should have gotten his cab number or told him to take us to the police, but I was so terrified and upset.

Whew! That started out as what was meant to be a funny, light story and ended up a little intense. Sorry... 

1 comment:

  1. My sister used to say "You havet o kiss a lot of frogs before finding your prince" and she is right...they are a lot of guys out there that are just WTF :P

    The first guy well what does he wants to accomplish with a few word...and about the dance, well is his loss. I tried picturing your moves and I kind of ended up picturing you as Tylor Swift in the "Shake it off" video :)

    The second guy, we ll the dude is totally a frog, he has not an ounce of prince in him...and you were pretty nice to have given him your real name :P

    And about the cab that really makes me mad! What a douche...I had a similar situation but with a cab driver in my own language...I told him I would not pay him becuase he was trying to rob me and I was just going to pay the fair ammount and stepped out of the cab...well the guy stepped down from the cab and pointted a knife at me and asked me if I was gonna get myself killed over a couple of bucks...Just rememebering makes me mad. I remeber I handed him the money as I would have done to any street mugger.