Get the truth about one of Italy’s most popular islands – and its people – by reading my new weekly blog installments (every Monday right here on this site)
Chapter Twenty-One – Harmless Flirting?
Roberto enjoyed living the life of a bachelor while on vacation in the United States, probably never more so than in the week we spent in Orlando, Fla. with my brother and his friends. The only problem was that Roberto had a girlfriend back in Italy. “I’m-a, how you say, flirting,” he would tell me. “No problem.” Still, he was leaving out the stories of flirting when he would finally get on the phone with his girlfriend Lisa.
By day, we would sleep in before heading to the Disney theme parks with either my brother or one of his friends. By night, we would either go out to dinner or eat at my brother’s house with his single buddies. One evening, we all headed to a bar. Tony and I went home early with one of my brother’s roommates. The three of us were all older than the others and had long outgrown the bar scene. Tony, who works as a bartender in Ischia, hardly wants to hang out at a bar or nightclub when he’s on vacation. But Roberto never left. My brother had his new girlfriend by his side, so he left Roberto unattended most of the time.
You’d think that would be okay, given he was 22 at the time and supposedly in a committed relationship. Another night, my brother had the boys bring the drinking to the house instead of going out to a bar. People were coming in and out. But I stayed locked in the guest room with a good book. Tony would come in and out of the room until about 10 p.m., when I drifted off to sleep. The next morning, I would discover that I missed all the fun.
Tony described a buzzed Roberto zooming around the house and talking to everyone in English. He zeroed in on one girl, who actually had a boyfriend who was at the house. And he walked over to her and said, “I like your big-a bobs!” Not boobs. He said, “Bobs.”
“Fantastic,” I said to Tony. “What do you think Lisa would say about this?”
“Non sarebbe contenta,” he responded. “She wouldn’t be pleased.”
Later on in the evening, Roberto had another encounter with her. She had just chugged a beer from a can, which women in Italy don’t do. And this all-American burped like she was a bull frog croaking in front of everyone in the room. “Now-a, that’s-a real woman,” Roberto said. “Real woman-a.” Moments later, she left with her boyfriend. Nothing more happened between Roberto and her, but his “flirting” made for cute anecdotes later.
Although Roberto was looking and not touching – barring his attempted kiss with Addy, which she thwarted – and his flirting appeared harmless on the surface, I kept thinking that if I were Lisa, I’d be bothered by this behavior. Who wants to hear that their boyfriend complimented another woman’s breasts? Or was scoping out the singles scene abroad? Then, I quickly realized I could be Lisa. I wondered how Tony would act when he returns to Ischia, which was only a couple of weeks away. Would he be “how you say flirting,” too? Should I be worried? Do all Italian men cheat? Was I ruining my life by getting involved with a real Italian?
Some names and identifying characteristics of the real people involved have been changed.
Tune into this Web site, Two Worlds, every Monday for the latest installment in my blog about my experiences in Ischia, and every other Monday to ItaliansRus.com for the latest Our Paesani column about all things Italian. Di Meglio is also the Guide to Newlyweds for About.com.