Hello and benvenuti to yet another instalment of Roman Hot Tea. This is my Carrie Bradshaw moment. Please, gentlepeople, take your seats. Today, I wish to out myself as not the table-flipping badass I thought I always would be in the face of a total and utter stronzo. I also want to explore some pensieri on social behaviour and the strange place those of us single in our twenties’ find ourselves. I have to tell myself there was a lezione worth learning from this particular date, for me to learn and to inflict upon you kind readers, or else I will lose my mind. Andiamo.
I feel it’s necessario to preface this story by saying that, prior to this anno, I have never really been on the dating scena. As one friend so kindly labelled me, I had been a serial monogamist, opting instead to engage in seriose, long-term relationships since my late teens. After my aforementioned stint of long-terms, ho deciso that I would stay single for as long as I possibly can this year and evvitare all heart-break. But, that gets boring FAST.
However, due to la mia storia, I’m a complete newbie when it comes to dates quindi I followed the usual pattern: I downloaded dating apps, went out to cool posti, started flirting with amici… you know how it goes. So, quando I decided to go on a date with this particular ‘gentleman’, it felt like a grande deal.
He was interessante, quick-witted and così bello. We’d been speaking for a week or two, planning to meet when he moved to Rome. We set a date, chose a time and a place, and on the day … I fell asleep. In my cuore, I think this is why he did le cose that he did. Otherwise, it’s too difficile to believe people behave this way for the craic. When I awoke, I realised my mistake and we rescheduled for the day after. This was my prima mistake.
We met in a publico place, Termini station, and had a good chuckle about the craziness that succede there. He was dressed up in new vestiti, having been shopping before we met. Per dire la verità, he looked fiiiiine. Lezione numero uno: Don’t let good looks fool you. We headed to a local rooftop bar with un bellosquardo over Termini and got to know one another. He was, again, cool and interesting, having travelled extensively and recounted many fascinating things about himself, his family, his values. So far, so good.
We decided to go for cena. In his defence, he DID want us to go to un altro posto initially, but it began to rain heavily, so we went for his second choice. The second choice just so happened to be a 5* hotel with a covered rooftop garden. Looking at the menu, I KNEW that I was not paying extortionate soldi for something here. I chose a simple pasta dish. As I don’t drink alcohol, I wasn’t too worried about my end of things. However… my date chose to order a €30 steak and a €30 bottle of wine. “Okay,” I thought to myself. “Whatever floats his boat.” He swatted off my bemused look with a, “Well it’s €10 for a glass or €30 for the bottle. It’s purely economical.” I agreed. This was my secondo grave mistake. [spoiler alert] Lesson number two: Don’t believe what people say. Believe what people do.
Though it started off promising, this boat soon began to sink. Within the space of an hour, my date had managed to get himself completely inebriated on this bottle of wine. What began with stimulating conversation dissolved into awful babble about how appalled he was to discover a girl he was hooking up with in a club was a single mother. Or, how he does good deeds as he believes in karma, beginning to list off deeds which are il minimo indispensabile. All the while, I stared at him in disbelief. It was as if a switch had flicked in his head all of a sudden, turning the charming lad into a complete and utter infant before my eyes. Like watching Benjamin Button but on light speed. Deciding this was just not for me anymore, I looked about myself for assistance. The waiter arrived and we briefly discussed the situation in Italian, the language my date does not speak. The waiter laughed and said he would bring the bill for us.
Upon his return, we both peered forward to see the damage. Roughly €80. Before I could open my mouth, my date says, “Oh woah, I can’t afford that.” Suffering myself to be polite, I said we could go half on it and that I didn’t mind doing so. He then looks me dead in the eyes and says, and I quote:
“No. I can’t afford ANY of this.”
My face must have looked like I’d been slapped. By this point, I was done wasting anymore of my time here. I picked up the bill and began to dress myself to leave. And THIS MOTHER-F*&$ER turns to me and says, “Aren’t you gonna wait until I’ve finished my glass of wine?”
I am always amazed at my ability to not murder people on a daily basis but this was one time in particular that I felt I should frame and hang in my home if it were possible. He knocked his glass back as I began to walk out of the garden section to pay. At the desk, I had a laugh with the waiters about the whole incident, while he excused himself to the bathroom (assumably too ashamed to actually be present at the paying of a Tinder Swindler dinner)
Arrabbiatissima and shocked at my own inability to be impolite in the face of a raging stronzo, the ascensore ride down was silent on my part, while this fool continued to blaterare, saying he would catch the bill on the secondo date. SECOND DATE?! I didn’t think I could be more horrified. How on EARTH did he think this had went well enough to warrant a second date?
Outside of the hotel, he offered to walk me to my bus stop. I tried to dissuade him, however, he insisted. At the stop, he continued to talk and talk and talk. About mind games he plays while driving. About jobs he had in the past. About foods he’s liked and disliked. If there was a gun nearby, I would have shot myself. It would have been less painful. My bus was 30 minutes late, in classic Romano style. So I waited, and stared incredulously, as this man continued to talk to himself for the entire duration. I put on my face mask to avoid ANY chance that this man might try to kiss me when we parted ways. I had never felt relief like I did when my bus appeared around the corner. Waving goodbye, I ran.
For the following week, I was fuming. More with myself than with anyone else. Perché did I not say anything? Why didn’t I just flip the tavolo and scream obscenities? What made me stay there for so long when ho capito that this wasn’t going the way I had hoped? And why ON GOD’S GREEN EARTH did ho pagato per tutto?! After all the My Favourite Murder episodes I have listened to, why on earth didn’t I “Fuck Politeness” and get out of there?
I’m sure a lot of it has to do with the unfortunately well-known feeling many women like me have grown up having to ‘get wise’ to. When faced with a man who behaves unpredictably and/or shows no respect for social boundaries, one has to find ways to safely make an escape. As much as I would have loved to have thrown the glass of red wine over him while he slagged off single mothers and dramatically sauntered off to the sounds of the restaurant clapping, sometimes it’s just not possible. To do so puts you at risk. Double that down if the person is also ubriaco. Instead, you must grin and bear it, hoping that you have stumbled across only a testa di cazzo and not a full-blown murderer.
Following this evening, having spoken to my friends about the entire evening a hundred times over, I decided I would shake it off and move on. One night, he texted me for an Italian dirty phrase, so I told him I’d tell him when he paid me. It was petty, but at this stage I had had days to vent and decide Fuck Politeness has an important place in my all too easy-going life. And in fairness to him, he did pay. Half. Purely economical.
On a different date, (this time: found through friends, with references, not a complete douchebag) myself, my date and i miei amici all met up and went to a bar. AND CHI WOULD BE THERE but the man himself. I had been dodging his messaggi for days by now and here we both were. I was shocked beyond belief. Per fortuna, my gruppo spoke Italian, so we managed to seat ourselves and avoid him as much as possibile without him hearing our entire conversation about him. However, I couldn’t help but notice who it was that was paying at the bar each time… It wasn’t him… Not ONCE.
In short, I dodged a bullet and learned a very valuable lesson about what it’s like to date in your mid-twenties. This is what I have learned:
- If someone shows up to a date dressed in all new fancy clothes they have only bought that day, you can bet your culo that they’ve no money left to spend and dinner will be on you. RUN.
- If someone considers handing someone a lighter when asked or holding the door for someone who is directly behind you as something worthy of great karmic reward, RUN.
- (This is more specifically for my Recovery pals BUT) If someone plans to order a full bottle of wine for a dinner where you have clearly stated you do not drink, RUN RUN RUN GOD RUN AND KEEP RUNNING AND DO NOT GO BACK FOR ANYTHING. LEAVE IT ALL BEHIND. RUN GODDAMMIT.
- Trust your gut and not your eyes. Oops…
Ciara Aoife O’Síoráin (che desidera diventare una bella donna figa come gli italiani)