It's an old cliche that women are from Mars etc, but some topics of conversation with female friends make me realise that unless you exist on some transcendental plane of telepathy like Mel Gibson in What Women Want, you are basically screwed when it comes to being able to understand the fairer sex.
Out for a beer with a couple of female friends. Two or three pints of strong lager down our throats and one of them starts raving about how utterly lovely her boyfriend is. He's Turkish, doesn't live in Rome and she sees him about once every three months. Alarm bells started ringing at this point solely because he appears to be the human equivalent of Gentlemen's Quarterly magazine.
She then begins oozing with enthusiastic pride about how much of a “sweet gentlemen” he is (remembering that she's Ukrainian and this is a second language she's speaking, although I've no doubt she'd have chosen that noun/ verb combo if she was Mother Tongue English) and practically frothing with glee with tales of his chivalry and gentle nature (examples of which were paying for dinner and giving her his coat when it's cold).
The point when I thought she was actually going to wet her knickers though, was also the point when I choked on my Hokangruber real ale and spat a mouthful across the table.
With damp eyed passion she gushed, while gazing into the middle distance and clasping her hands to her bosom about how he had “waited” for the sixth date before giving her a kiss.
After I had regained the ability to breathe, and extricated the 8.2% abv beer from my windpipe I asked her why he had taken so long.
“I think he wanted to get to know me better”.
“Maybe he's a bit of a wet lettuce and simply didn't have the bottle to try and snog you on the first date?” I put to her.
She tuts, then “oh no, you don't know him he's very sweet”.
“Where were you when he kissed you on the sixth date?” I ask, still bemused at this metaphorical poodle she's dating.
Her eyes begin to glisten again, “on a beach in Malta”.
I pause, then “and let me guess. I just BET it was sunset when he did that wasn't it?”
She nods enthusiastically and says “Oh YES! It was beautiful, very romantic”
I shake my head. “I just BET also that he thinks the Kama Sutra is a work of fiction”.
She looks puzzled “what's the Kama Sutra?”
I wince. “I don't know what's worse, the fact that he waited six dates to try and plant one on you, or the fact you think it's romantic. If you were out with me I'd have tried to get your knickers off on the first date”.
“Ooh, you are so crude. He is a nice man. Not like you”.
I pause again then ask her casually, “seen Pirates of the Caribbean have you?”
“One question. Jack Sparrow or Will Turner...and you can only choose one”.
Without hesitation she replies “Jack Sparrow of course”.
I smile and start glugging my beer again. She tells me he pays her compliments all the time and is very sweet.
I look at her and the other girl we're sitting with. “I can tell you the BEST compliment you can give a woman”. Then I deliberately pause again.
Five seconds later and the second girl says “and what might that be?”
“Do you really want to know?”
“Yes, tell us”
“You have to promise me that even if you take offence to what I'm about to say you won't act upon that feeling ok?”
“Ok tell us”
“THE BEST compliment you can give a woman is 'your pussy tastes fantastic' ”.
They both squeal at this and the second girl says “have you ever tried that line?”
“A few times”
“And no one's punched you?”
“Last girl I said it to was too busy biting the pillow to care”.
In light of the sweetness and light that the first girl's boyfriend apparently radiates and the utter debauchery of my pussy line you'd think neither of them would have been speaking to me after that.
Thing is, we're meeting again this Saturday for another night on the beer.
Part of the frustrations of being an EFL teacher in another country in a global recession is that a lot of people are a bit shy of spending 50 Euros per hour on English classes while we all hold our breath to see if Obama's Bail Out Billions will have a positive domino effect or not.
My school recently gave me a class on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, a total of 5 hours, bringing my total to 23 per week, not including my private student. I casually mentioned to the DOS last Wednesday that I was thinking of visiting my dad in Greece this July and he immediately changed from sweet, chain smoking giver of hours to pissed off, money making whip cracker and snapped “YOU HAVE TO KEEP THE COURSE UNTIL THE END, IF YOU DON'T I WON'T HAVE YOU BACK NEXT YEAR!”.
I glared at him and replied that I was only asking for advice and as I hadn't even booked a flight yet I didn't appreciate his aggression. he in turn said “oh, don't take it personally. I'm like this with everyone”. I pointed out that my contract says I have to give a month's notice before quitting. he replies that if I go now it's ok but he will change me for another teacher so the class won't be “disrupted” (remembering these are adults, not toddlers with Asperger's Syndrome) by my upping anchor before the end of July. When I then asked him if there would be other work in July he said he didn't know but even if there was there was no promise I would get it as the teachers on “Guaranteed Hours” take priority.
Sums it up really. As decent as this school have been up to now, it all comes down to making money and keeping a teacher working on only 5 hours a week, regardless of whether he can afford to eat or pay the rent is the raison d'etre of employing him in the first place.
Still I'm off to Atlanta in August, so fuck 'em.
Turns out it's only between 11 and 20 Euros to get my book printed and professionally bound by the stationers down the road. Might just do that as the USB pendrive copy is starting to feel like the One Ring to Rule Them All every time I reach to check it's still on its lanyard around my neck. I've also left it wedged in the PC at work a couple of times which doesn't bode well for peace of mind.
The post in Rome sucks farts out of dead cats and I have had two packages vanish into the limbo that is the sorting offices of Poste Italiane. If you go to the local post office you have to take a ticket and wait for a minimum of 30 minutes, only to be told by some belligerent old battleaxe that without the number off the ticket they push through your letterbox if you aren't in when they try to deliver it, they can't help you.
I ordered a Robert Jordan novel off Ebay and a copy of The Writers and Artists Yearbook off Amazon and neither got here. So....as getting my memoirs published is THE most important thing to me right now, I ordered TWAAY a second time and used the school as the delivery address. It arrived five days after the designated delivery window had closed and the school director casually said “hi Lance, is a packet for you but is a bit wet”, pointing at the sodden pile of mush leaning against the radiator in the hall. Turns out Postman Plod had left it in the courtyard under the slanting roof, directly below the guttering, meaning the run off ran over the book like some biblical christening ceremony.
Managed to get it dried out and apart from the fact that the book is now S-shaped it's proving useful (turns out I need to get permission from The Happy Mondays before I can quote having my fire stamped out and forgetting I was a man).
Bronx Warriors is my no.1 fave film in the whole world (no.2 is its sequel). I have a website set up in their honour at www.bronxwarriors.com and was contacted a few weeks ago by some girl who is a massive fan too, chatting about how gorgeous Mark Gregory the (then) 17 year old star of the movies is and how she hopes I manage to find him (there has been a stop/ start attempt at locating the ''retired at 25 coz he hated the movie business” Mr Gregory since 2005). Turned out by one of those cosmic coincidences that she lives in Rome too AND in the same zone as me, EUR. We arranged to meet for a bevvy and as I was waiting outside the cinema in Via Marconi two gorgeous, 35 year old, blonde, twin sisters walked up and went “Lance?”.
So...my fave film has two fit (apparently single) birds as fans.
They knew a “nice” English pub (there's bad ones?) and after 2 or 3 strong ales (gotta love any country where you can buy 10.5% ABV beer on tap in a bar) we had a nice chat about our fave Italian exploitation movies and I tried not to gawp at their cleavages too obviously. I'd had some laminated cards printed up for the event with “Bronx Warriors Convention 2009”on them and the DAS logo from part 2 as the badge. Squeals of appreciation and we're now meeting for a dinner and to sit and watch the film next weekend (no it's not sad...how do you think the Rocky Horror Picture Show made so much money?).
As the stereotypical uber-fan is a bespectacled, geeky bloke I was pleasantly surprised to say the least.
I moved flats 2 weeks ago, mainly because the other one had a single bed that would barely fit an anorexic stick insect. Shagging was out unless you wanted to spoon like sardines all fucking night (I always find having to peel myself off someone else in the morning, to have a tarnishing the memories of the night before). The flat mates were decent blokes but wanted someone who would stay throughout the summer which I couldn't guarantee due to the shaky nature of teaching work for a wandering EFL tutor.
The new flat has a MASSIVE bed, a HUGE room and wi-fi Internet access, not to mention a shower with on demand hot water and not one of those poxy tanks that take hours to warm up to anything approaching tepid. I had a house warming dinner with 3 women I know (who predictably were half an hour late to the train station, while I paced up and down the platform smoking cigarettes) plus my flat mate Michele (who's a bloke by the way, pronounced Mi-kel-eh).
I had built Michele up about the three gorgeous babes that were going to grace our table that night and at 5 to 8 when I left to meet them he was nowhere to be seen. Thought I'd scared him off but it turned out he was buying wine and was typically Italian (kissing hands and winking) when introduced to Dora, Caroline and Diane. We had a mountain of salami, pasta and about four or five bottles of wine before the ladies called for coffee so they could make it to the night club (they call them “discos” over here, but that makes it sound like it's frequented by teenagers which is NOT what I want on my blog). They asked to see my room and Caroline dove on the bed and rolled about, lamenting in a broad Irish accent the unfairness of me having a bedroom 4 times the size of hers (“you feckin' jammy bastud!”).
She simply glared at me in disgust when I then suggested Diane lay next to her and they do things to each other while I took a photo or five.
Me and Diane were both choking for a fag (UK definition) by the time we got back to the train station and by an immense stroke of good fortune someone had left three Camels in a packet on the bench. After reassuring Dora and Caroline that chances were noone had laced them with cyanide we had a grateful puff and then suffered nicotine withdrawl for the next hour getting across town to Piramide, up near the centre. This is a beautiful monument amongst equally lovely architecture surrounded by loads of clubs and bars, none of which appeared to sell ciggies. The club is called Big Bang and to my and Caroline's immense joy it turned out to be a rock bar, full of Emos and punks and playing all my faves like Ramones' Blitzkrieg Bop, Offspring's Come Out and Play and Metallica's Enter Sandman. While dancing enthusiastically Caroline shouted over “I think this is what I needed”. After moshing my arse off for 3 hours I staggered outside and ponsed a fag off some fat, bearded Italian Emo (who turned out to be the ripe old age of 21) and when he asked me if I liked Nirvana I casually mentioned I'd seen them live in 1992. Squealing with shock and glee he called over three of his mates and got me to tell them all about Kurt Cobain and what he was like (miserable cunt in a tatty blue cardigan as I recall).
Managed to blag a lift back off a guy we'd met through couchsurfing and as there were 4 of us in the back, Diane had to lay across three of us, with her quite delectable bum in my lap. I apologised in advance if she started to feel anything poking her but I was only human, to which Caroline slapped me.
Surprising lack of hangover the next morning, probably due to burning off most of the booze pogo-ing around till 3.30am