The Italian Scoundrel

21 Sep

Hello!  I’ve been absent from the blogging world for a couple of weeks due to a much-needed vacation.  I was in Italy traveling around from city to city on an amazing tour!  I loved all of the sites, but I probably loved the incredible food (pasta! pizza!  cheese!  bread!) and wine even more.  Diet Coke there costs anywhere from $3 – $5 per can, whereas a glass of wine will only set you back about $2!  And forget about the savings when you get a bottle…let’s just say wine is the most economic of beverage choices in Italy, so I obviously had to make the responsible decision.

Although I have no exciting dating stories from the trip (our group of 12 consisted of 11 girls and a 64 year-old man who was one of the women’s husband), the alluring Italian accent of the locals brought to mind a recent dating story.  Or, should i say, a pre-dating story…

After moving back to New York last fall, I spent approximately six months living at home while I tried to find a job that would allow me to move into an apartment in the city.  The job came in December, apartment hunting began in January, and by the end of the month I signed a lease that would begin on March 1st.  For the month of February, my good friend allowed me to stay at her place in Brooklyn during the week while her husband was away on business – it cut my commute in half and allowed me to enjoy life outside of my childhood home again.  Things were looking up!  I was employed!  I was about to have a place to live!  The city began thawing out from it’s January blizzards, and I was feeling the excitement of the potential of things to come.  A friend convinced me to try out Ok Cupid – I had only tried Match in the past.  Sure, I thought, why not?  Things are settling down now, and dating seems like a good idea again.

He sent me an email first.  My finely tuned internet dating profile signal began sending off warning bleeps.  Spelling – not so good, and I’m not just talking about their, there, and they’re (which does, by the way, drive me crazy anyway).  Grammar – poor.  But then, there it was, the poorly written, three-word sentence that spoke louder than the warning bleeps:  “I from Italy.”  Italy, the country I’ve always wanted to visit!  Italy, where he and I would go each year to visit his relatives and bask in the Mediterranean sun!  I hit “reply.”  We’ll just call him “Italian” for the purposes of this story – he doesn’t really need a name.

After a couple of very short emails back and forth, he asked if I wanted to get together.  I hardly knew anything about him, but I always prefer to meet sooner rather than later – I am never interested in long-term online interaction.  So, I gave him my number.  He gave me his, but said he would call.  Superbowl Sunday, mid-guacamole dip, the phone rang.  I didn’t answer, and there was no message.  A minute later, a text came through, “This Italian, call me later.”  Okay, short…but hey, it’s a text.  Two minutes later, another phone call.  “Uh-oh”, I thought, “is he really calling again??”  My friends assured me it must’ve been a pocket-dial.  I decided I’d call back the next day.  I got home around 10 that night and put my purse down in my friend’s room as we sat in the living room and talked for a while.  Later on, I saw that I missed another call from him, no message.  I was slightly miffed at the four attempts at communication in under three hours, but I didn’t want to be rude so I sent a text – “I saw that you called; I’m heading to bed but you can try me tomorrow!”  The response:  “Okay, we talk tomorrow.”

The next day, I headed out the door and took the subway to work.  Upon exiting the station, my phone beeped its missed call notification – he had called me at 8:45am.  “Yikes”, I thought, “who is this guy??”  Again, no message.  I planned on calling back when I got home that night.  Mid-day at work, the phone rang again while I was on a call with a client – once again, no message.  I was very busy that day and didn’t want to give off the impression I was available throughout the work day, so I figured I’d call later.  Plus, I wasn’t even sure I’d want to call after all of these calls with no messages!  I headed to the gym after work and left around 6:30pm to see yet another missed call from him, and a text saying “Ok, I giving up!”  Really?  Less than 24 hours after you first called me?  I promptly returned home to my friend’s house, where she and two girls were enjoying some wine.  After rehashing the day’s events, the vote was 2-1 for calling and at least giving him a chance over the phone.  I took a deep breath and called:

Italian:  “May-lees-a!”

Me:  (all is forgiven, accent is amazing)

The call continued for five minutes or so.  He told me he was a doorman working 80 hours per week at two doorman jobs – he said he had a degree in accounting, but it was hard to find a job in that area.  My head said I didn’t want to date a doorman…but hey, he was an immigrant!  Trying to make his way in this new world!  He said he lived with his parents.  My head said I don’t want to date someone living with their parents…but hey, the whole family needs each other!  They are in a new country!  So what if he said they’ve been here for over 10 years – maybe that doesn’t seem long to them!  He asked if I could get together on Wednesday, but I already had plans.  He wouldn’t be back in the city until the following Wednesday, so I suggested we do it then.  “What, you won’t cancel your plans for me THIS Wednesday?”  I didn’t detect any hint of sarcasm in his voice, but chalked it up to cultural differences and assumed he hadn’t mastered the tone of voice needed in the art of NY sarcasm yet.  We were on for next Wednesday.

Thankfully, I didn’t hear from him before the following week – I had been worried he might be a phone stalker.  When Tuesday rolled around, I got a text from him – “We still meeting tomorrow, yes?”  I said sure and asked when and where – “6pm works for you?  Hudson Hotel?”  I confirmed and said I’d see him there.  Later on that night, I got another text from him:  “5:45 or 6pm?”  Um, really?  First, you can’t check your text log…and second, there’s only a 15-minute difference between the two!  But, I responded anyway, “6pm is good for me.”

The following day, I packed up a cute outfit and my makeup so I could freshen up after work.  I can’t say I was feeling too excited about the date, but it had been quite a long time since I’d been out with a guy, and I figured it would be good to get my feet wet again.  At 4:00, I had a conference call with a few other co-workers in the room.  Here’s what followed, as I was participating on the conference call and my cell phone was on my lap.

4:10pm – he calls, no message

4:12pm – he calls, no message

4:14pm – text message “MELISSA, ARE WE MEETING??!!”

I began getting angry.  I am in the middle of work!  I can’t respond to this right now – and what do you mean, are we meeting?  We just confirmed less than 24 hours ago!  And why are you using caps lock?  Everyone knows that means shouting!  I was not going to respond to this kind of communication, so I decided I’d wait until after the conference call.

4:26pm – he calls, no message

The conference call ended at 5 and I consulted with my co-worker about what to do.  “Give him a chance”, she said.  “He might not have meant to shout, and the worst thing that can happen is you meet him and never see him again.”  So, I called him – I can’t stand starting out a dating relationship with texts, anyway.  He doesn’t pick up!

My message, 5:07pm:

“Hi Italian, this is Melissa – I was in a meeting from 4-5 and saw afterwards that I missed three calls from you and a text asking if we’re meeting…I was definitely planning on meeting you at 6 at the Hudson Hotel like we decided yesterday, so I’m not really sure why you’re unsure – but please let me know if you’re coming because now I don’t know if you’re planning on being there.”

I waited around for a while and talked to another friend on the phone, relaying the story.  At 5:45, he called and I answered:

Me:  Hello?

Italian: Hello? (sounding sleepy)

Me:  Hi, what’s going on?

Italian:  Where are you?

Me:  Oh – are you at the hotel?!  Okay, I left you a message because I wasn’t sure if you were going.

Italian:  I sleeping.

Me:  What?  Wait, where are you?

Italian:  In my bed.

Me:  (Thinking, wait, is this about to get super sketchy??)  Um, what?  Wait, did you get my voicemail?

Italian:  Yes.  Where are you?

Me:  Well, I’m still at work because I thought we were meeting at the Hudson Hotel at 6pm.  I saw that you called three times and texted me asking if we were meeting.

Italian:  You did not write, I think you are not coming.

Me:  Well, I’m not really sure why you didn’t know if I was coming – we confirmed the time and place yesterday.  I was in a meeting and didn’t have my phone with me.

Italian:  I thought you always have phone.  I all the way in Bronx, I not coming down on long train ride if I not know you coming.

Me:  (totally frustrated and annoyed at this point, and ready to get off the phone) Well, okay then, I’m going to go.

Italian:  You not coming to hotel?

Me:  No, I’m going to head home now.  Maybe some other time.

Italian:  When?  When other time?

Me:  You can call me and maybe we’ll work something out.  Bye.

I hung up and immediately called my friend back to fill her in on the conversation.  I was feeling relieved that I didn’t meet him.  As I was talking with her, I got three text messages from him:

5:58pm:  Sorry I not come when I not no you coming!  YOU CLD B MORE FLEXABLE!

6:02pm:  I just trying to be nice and see if you coming!  I not take train from Bronx when you not coming!  And this MEETING sound like job interview!

6:04pm:  I feel bad, but I erasing your number.  Good luck to you, HA.

What?!  All I could do was laugh.  “This meeting sound like job interview”?!  What does that even mean?

The lesson here:  When dealing with someone with an accent, you are not working on a level playing field.  Take what he’s saying, then imagine hearing it in your own accent, from some guy at the local pub.  THEN, MAKE AN INFORMED DECISION ABOUT WHETHER THIS GUY IS WORTH YOUR TIME!  And yes, I am shouting that.

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One Response to “The Italian Scoundrel”

  1. Kate October 5, 2011 at 4:02 pm #

    I loved this story as much in written form as I did in person. You’re such a funny writer!

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