At times it feel like my post-relationship-life was written for a collection of webisodes. An attempt to pay homage to the all-familiar single girl’s romantic comedy, but with local flavor and charm. As an experiment I’ll share what this omniscient writer has written for my life so far.
#4 The Italian - part |
The first time I met him it was liberty day. We’d expected sunshine but as Dutch weather will have it, the forecast was nowhere near reality. So by the time Charlie, Jamie and I got to the park we were stone cold. Two of us wore dresses and the wind blew so hard it was hard to stay in one place without blowing over. But we had wine and we refused to let the weather rule us.
“Would you guys like to join us for Kiss a stranger day?”
We could barely hear him over the wind but he had a nice smile and a friendly attitude, so the three of us shrugged.
“We’ll think about it.” It was the best promise we could offer him.
“That’s fine! We’ll do it in about 10 minutes, right over there!” He pointed to the other end of the shallow stretch of grass. People were already gathering. Around an enormous camera that is. Our new friend flashed us another smile and left to go join them.
Jamie and I were both single and hardly afraid of kissing a stranger. But a camera? That put quite a dent in our enthusiasm. The death stroke however was the next two guys who walked up to ask us, with barely contained excitement, wether we would be joining too. Jamie and I glanced at each other and both answered with badly acted sad and disappointed look. “Sorry...” “Not today.” “Maybe next time.” They were boys, far too young for either of us and far from either our types.
Our bottle of wine emptied while our group filled with new friends and new drinks. The day went on like this and we ended up drunkenly moving around the area. From park to stage, stage to cafe, cafe to restaurant. Our final destination for the day. It was obvious why someone had chosen this restaurant. It was small and truly Italian. Not the type where you could order spaghetti and meatballs and expect to be served, but the type where the waitstaff spoke more Italian than Dutch and the food was sublime. The restaurant however was also tiny and packed. By now we’d grown to be quite a group. There were at least 8 of us and we’d only ordered for 4. As soon as we came in, we got the undivided attention of one of the waiters. He was by far too gorgeous to be working in a place like that, amidst the young busboy’s and old men that served the rest of the restaurant.
After some tables were moved around and we felt duly embarrassed by how much of a nuisance we were to the rest of the restaurant we sat. But nobody cared. Because it was that kind of place and that kind of night.
To all of our delight the hot waiter tended to us all evening. He was gracious and charming. And the service? Superb. In no time at all my group had caught on to something I wasn’t seeing with both my eyes open and the set it to me to take care of our orders and refills. I didn’t mind. I was drunk, cheerful and in the most convenient spot. Or so I thought.
I had to but turn my head and look at our hot waiter or he’d stop in his tracks “Yes, mia signora, can I get you anything?” I’ll admit I melted a little every time he spoke. Who can deny an accent like that? None of the girls at our table, that’s for sure. When he wasn’t at our table they’d gossip as drunk girls are won’t to do. As it was our luck however, he wasn’t far from our table often.
The night was one of failures and successes. They were out of most of the food we wanted to eat, but instead we got treated to the best the chef had to offer. We had to wait quite a while, so our new friend brought us a round of limoncello, on the house!
“Well surely you’ll drink along with us, won’t you?”
He was still turned to me as he stepped carefully back toward the kitchen, his hands still raised in an apologetic gesture because we’d had to wait. The wine in our stomachs told us that a wait was just fine, but he’d insisted. He gave a defeated shrug “I can’t, I’m still working bella.”
“Oh come on, you’ve been working hard all day, it’s late already and I won’t drink it without you.”
He dropped his shoulders and hands, hesitated and smiled “alright, just one”.
That was the first of the night.
By the end of the night we’d gotten wine, several rounds of limoncello, a platter of dessert treats and much more I surely don’t remember. The girls in my group assured me that he was into me but I knew what they didn’t. He was a waiter, this was his place of business and flirting was almost certainly part of the job. A great waiter that brings groups of women back to the restaurant time and again could pay his weight in gold, for all I know. Perhaps he picked a girl in any group, how could I know? I assumed so, at the very least. Regardless, the twittering of the girls, the compliments of the waiter and the alcohol had admittedly given me far more confidence than I’d usually be privy too.
‘You have work in the morning and you like your job remember?’ whimpered a voice in the back of my addled mind as the night crawled to a close. It was heading into midnight and we’d been drinking since noon. Only 4 of us were still left by now. I stood up and walked over to our waiter to pay. I put my hand on his arm and smiled at him (hoping I wouldn’t be slurring my words too much).
“Do you think I could pay my part?”
When I told him what I wanted to pay he refused to ring it up. “No no cara, you can not pay that much, you will only pay the bill, no tips!” I stared at him, amused and admittedly slightly confused. Why wouldn’t he want to an extra tip? It was a generous one too. But as he shook his head and held his hands up defensively, he seemed to know pretty well what he did and didn’t want. So I shrugged.
“Well okay. Just my part then.”
He rang it up and we stood next to each other for several tense moments until the machine accepted my payment. Why must waiting for atm machines always take so excrutiatingly long? It’s as if the world takes on a different speed of time, just to spite us. Eventually it did and spat out my receipt.
“Since you won’t accept a tip.. I’ll have to find another way to repay you.”
I heard the words tumble out of my mouth and a sly smile cross my face as I turned over the receipt, wrote down my name and number and hand it to him.
He looked me in the eye as I gave him my number “I cannot accept his..” He looked properly stunned. This time though there was no fight in his voice. He took the note with a smile and faked a complaint in his posture, but it convinced no one. Not me. Not my group who looked on from our booth.
“I want you to have it.” I replied, flashed him another smile, turned and walked straight out of the restaurant. Instead of going back to my group who watched my departure with their mouths gaping wide open.
By the time I got outside my heart was racing and what might once have been considered a smile now put the Cheshire cat to shame. ‘Did I really just do that? I must be insane! Insanely COOL.’ I’ve never been one for unfounded humility. At least not while drunk.
I unlocked my bike and waited for the rest of our group to pay outside. I couldn’t very well go back inside to get them, that would negate the mic drop, walk away from the explosion-move I’d just done.
“THAT WAS AMAZING.”
They laughed, as did I.
“It was just a joke.” I told them as I shrugged it off best I could.
“HELL NO. That was so cool. We have some tricks to learn from you!”
“Don’t be silly, the guy was working and working it. He knows that this is all a play, so do I. That’s what makes it so easy! Plus, I’ve only been single for like two minutes and I’m drunk. Who gives a shit.”
“I wonder if he’ll call..”
“He won’t call. It’s probably in the trash already. That’s not the point. It was fun and funny, that’s the point.”
“I hope he calls..”
I laughed at them. I barely knew half of who was left but this seemed like a great first memory with them. We’d probably laugh at how stupid I was the next time I met them.
With that thought I said goodbye, stepped on my bike and headed home. I had music in my ears and my insides soared with the kind of giggles you only get from doing a truly silly thing. It had been a good day. A great day! And I thought giving my phone number to a complete stranger was about the funniest thing in the world.
The next thing I remember was laying on the ground. Everything hurt and people were huddled over me, yelling at me not to move. The night ended up known for the night I got a concussion by being doored.
He never called.
But that doesn’t mean I never saw him again.
TO BE CONTINUED..
Honestly this turned out way longer than I’d expected! If anyone got this far, tell me what you thought and I’ll write part two, which is just a bit steamier. :P