“Cara mia.” It takes two days. Twenty-four hours. Two days of your heart in your throat, biting your lip, catching yourself smiling at nothing. Two days of happiness, the chew and swallow kind: edible, tasty, satisfying. Two days of imagining an imaginary future together. Your hand, his hand. His breath, your ear. Two days and then the doubt sets in. “Ciao splendida, I had a really great time with you last night. Hope your day started well.”
Can he see the wrinkles around your eyes? Does he find them charming or do they just make you look old? Does he like long hair, curly or straight, or does he prefer a girl with short hair? Blondes? Brunettes? Redheads? Does he like your dress? It’s a bright color. Maybe something neutral is better. Maybe he prefers a girl in jeans. Flats, no heels. Your lip gloss is sticky. Your perfume is cheap.
“Buongiorno bellina.” Your first date is supposed to be just coffee. But the coffee shop closes at 6. “Shall we go somewhere for a glass of wine?” Wine turns in to dinner. Dinner turns in to knees touching under the table. You move on to a third place, for an after dinner drink. A lovely Scotch, neat, your faces get closer. You kiss. You close the place down and now it is very late on a Monday night and you are kissing on a bench in the park. Is that a full moon? Neat. “Sogni d'oro belissima ;-)”
Does he like the way you kiss? Maybe you are too forceful, but maybe you are not forceful enough. You’ve had coffee and wine, can he taste it on your tongue? Maybe it turns him on, you are delicious. Does he wish he had a breath mint to offer? When he wraps his arms around you does he find you too thick around the middle? Maybe he likes a girl with big boobs. Or maybe he’s a leg man. He’s an ass man. Is yours too big? Or just right? You guffaw. Your laugh seems forced. You are smart. You always say the dumbest things.
“Ciao mia gorgeous.” Tomorrow he will cook you dinner. A bottle of Bordeaux. Risotto with wild mushrooms. A perfect tiramisu. He is practiced. You are impressed. He is a pro. You are flattered, then disappointed. You should stay over. This will be your toothbrush when you are here. Let’s spend Christmas in Belgium. Does he say that to all the girls? Seeds of doubt are sown.
You are too confident. You are too insecure. Do you work too much? Or does he think you are not ambitious enough? Do you want kids? Is your answer the wrong answer? You talk about your family too much. He admires a girl that is close to her family. Maybe he doesn’t like pets. Why do you keep talking about your dogs?
“Buongiorno splendida. Tanti baci for you.” Date three. He is in a hurry. Dinner. Drinks. Are you ready to get out of here? Less than an hour and you don’t have to pay for parking at the garage. One more drink at his place. You don’t stay over. He doesn’t ask. “Sleep tight.”
You are playing hard to get. Maybe not hard enough. He wants you to throw yourself at his feet. Or maybe leave him alone. Why are you calling? Why didn’t you call? He thinks you're funny. He thinks you are bitter and hard. He thinks you are cute. Beautiful and sweet. Graceful. Kind. Clunky. Loud. Pushy. Bitchy. Ugly.
His communiqués are less frequent. His flattery less overt. You ask him to come for dinner at your house. “Tomorrow I don’t know yet, bella. I think I have plans. But I will let you know.” He has plans. Friday. Saturday. Sunday.
You try again. You ask him point blank. “Of course, I want to see you bella, I am just very distracted and busy right now.” So you wait for the other shoe to drop. “Grazie cara mia.”
Will he text you today? Will you ever hear from him again? Will you respond? Is he seeing someone else? Does he wish he never met you? Is he glad you met? Will you be friends when it ends? Or will you scan the crowd and hope you never catch his eye? Will the end hurt like a white hot poker in your heart? Or will it all just fade away and weeks from now you won’t remember his last name or the shape of his fingers or the smell of his cologne?
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