December 6, 2023 | Rome, Italy


By |2018-03-21T18:38:57+01:00December 15th, 2009|Lifestyle Archive|
No more usual calm self.

veryone around us is having babies, our friends included. Infants of all shapes and sizes are literally sprouting up like mushrooms. As all these changes unfold before us, Fabio and I have decided to take a back seat. We’ve decided to watch everyone else take a spin at the wheel.

Married less than a year, we’ve decided we’re not yet ready to venture into the world of parenthood. In the case of friendships, it’s natural that shared interests change. We don’t have any playgroups to attend, nor are we up-to-date on the latest breast pump. Surely our friends will still love us, but will they really care about our weekend trip to Paris when their little Bettina has colic?

This definitely has Fabio worried. He’s watched our supply of Friday night dinner companions begin whittling away.

Just the other day, he announced that he’d found some “new” friends. Oh boy, I thought. I always love first encounters with so-called “new” friends. Granted, everyone is always cordial and very polite. Still, it’s awkward — at least for me.

The girlfriends and wives are a riot. After the greetings, when they detect a foreign accent, or after Fabio’s explains that I’m American, a half-hour of silence usually ensures, after which come a few blank stares and a couple of smiles. This is largely because they can’t decide if I speak Italian.

But what once annoys me now makes me smile. In fact, I’ve often contemplated putting on a thick horrible American accent to spice things up a bit. I don’t to spare Fabio killing me.

Instead, I wait patiently to make the first move. Sometimes, good sport husbands try to paper over the awkwardness.

One recently asked me where I was from.

Sono di Miami,” I told him.

Wow, he replied. “You speak great Italian!” If only he could speak English as well as I spoke Italian.

I had uttered three words, one of which was a city which is generally pronounced the same way in all languages.

I have to admit that some of the “new” friendships have turned out quite successfully. We’ve been asked out a second and third time, and some couples have even asked us to join them on vacations.

Some haven’t gone as well. Take Roberto and Federica. First off, they’re younger — six years for me and about 10 for Fabio. But, hey, Roberto was Fabio’s colleague, so why shouldn’t we go out with him and his girlfriend?

Here’s why. Precisely because they’re in their mid-twenties. And what do people in their mid-twenties do? They kiss all night. Yep. A smooch-a-thon over dinner.

Then there was Fabrizio and Caterina, also colleagues of Fabio. He and Fabio were about the same age while I was a few years older than Caterina. We’d been on several dinner dates and all seemed to go well. Both were outgoing and she was particularly spunky. We all got a long very well.

So we decided to go on vacation together. Four days in Sicily. When we met them at the airport, I sensed something was off. Fabrizio wasn’t his usual calm self and Caterina looked like a wreck. That night we headed out for dinner and Caterina got tipsy. So tipsy that she began screaming at Fabrizio in the middle of the street, calling him a cornuto (a cheater) and several other choice obscenities.

Fabio and I followed our human instincts. He consoled Fabrizio while I tried calming down Caterina. In between deep, heavy sobs, she told me she’d found out that Fabrizio had been cheating on her with his assistant. Apparently, the assistant had called Caterina up sobbing because he, Fabrizio, had decided to end the relationship. Why? Because he wanted to finally get serious with Caterina. According to the wailing assistant, Caterina was better in bed. Great. And on it went… “What do I do?” Caterina asked.

Oh boy, I thought.

And we have to spend another how many days with these people?

New friends?

Thanks, Fabio.

About the Author:

Nicole Arriaga wrote features and a column ("Bella Figura") between 2004 and 2012.