A text arrives from my handsome Italian neighbour, with an invitation for coffee at the local coffee shop, Caffè Michelangelo in Piazza Ferrucci at 3:00 p.m. today. Felling a rush of excitement, I prepare for our first date.
Staring into my open closet, I decide on a simple spring dress, sandals, and a scarf in case the breeze turns cool. Further preparations entail writing out a few translated key words and sentences, Coles Notes if you will, and slip them into the pocket of my dress.
The clock reads 2:59. I examine my hair one last time shaking my head, I let out an exasperated sigh and an audible groan. Allow me to explain my predicament. I timed myself to perfection. One of the last preparations was my hair. Today’s drying time was unusually lengthy, three times as long as a matter of fact. I would dry then toss my hair, dry then toss, dry then toss, keenly aware that the minutes were ticking away. At long last, with only a few minutes to spare, my hair was finally dry to the touch but curiously flat and lifeless. I stare at my reflection, with a questioning look. “What happened here?” I rack my brain until the answer flashes into my mind… My eyes widened with horror. OH-MY-GOD!! I can’t believe it!!… I’d forgotten to rinse-out the conditioner!
As it was too late to start over, I sprayed a super sonic dose of hairspray, back-combed and sprayed a second time. With any luck, if I didn’t touch IT, the mistake would go undetected. Note to self: Absolutely NO HAIR TOUCHING!! This will be a challenge for me. As a teenager I developed the habit of running my fingers through my hair. This unconscious, often distracting trait, has determined the style of my hair for as long as I can remember: simple, uncomplicated, and finger-friendly.
Five minutes late, I rush to the cafe, and standing outside is the gorgeous Riccardo! Or is it Alessandro? Why can’t I keep those two names straight? He suggests we walk to the Piazza and indicates he knows a shortcut. At least I think that’s what he said, as he was so nervous he spoke too quickly for me to understand. I’m sure where ever we are going, it will be lovely. Still pre occupied with my hair, we turn the corner at the top of the hill. Suddenly I realize that he’s leading me to Piazzale Michelangelo
I’m secretly mortified as this famous Piazzale is known for the spectacular views, and its power over the resolve of even the strongest of women. It’s a little like Lovers’ Lane and his choice of destination shows very little imagination on his part. I suppress my disappointment as he points out the famous landmarks of Florence. How do I tell him I’ve been up here on countless occasions, often secretly laughing at the men who bring women here in the hopes they will steal a kiss? If he thinks for a moment I’ll melt over the view of Pointe Vecchio, and fall into his open arms, he is sadly mistaken.
However, he’s so utterly adorable, coupled with those dreamy eyes and that lavish open smile of his, I forgive his first date faux pas. Also he appears genuinely interested in what I have to say, he’s attentive and is absorbed in my answers. We are however, using the simplest of language skills…what we actually comprehend in anyone’s guess.
Strolling beside the wall that borders the Piazzale, we weave in and out of the multitude of tourist and buskers, occasionally the backs of our hands brush lightly together. I can’t quite decide if it’s intentional or accidental.
He buys me a soda and leads me to a relatively private park that’s a few steps below the bustling Piazzale. We settle on a park bench and enjoy the spectacular view before us. Three young girls are taking pictures of one another and as he banters with them, I take pleasure in observing his gentle personality blossom. I was mistaken, he’s not a player at all, he’s simply a Florentine who wishes to share this stunning view. He alternates between being reserved, then playful, but mainly… honest. We sit silently delighting in the view of this spectacular city. He edges closer to me resting a warm respectful hand on my shoulder. He turns to me with laughing eyes discerning my reaction to his bold advancement. I think to myself that dating is like a dance, and in this case I approve of his subtle advance. But, make no mistake, I am resolute in my mind. I will NOT kiss this gorgeous, sweet, doe-eyed man on a first date. I absolutely positively will NOT be taken in by his irresistible Italian charm!!