I said to my husband, “I am going to bed early, do you mind cleaning the kitchen? I’m a Cancer – we get along with Taurus..……Gradually the flirting turned up like the volume on a television. Do you like hand massages (he took my hand and began stroking it). You look so wonderful – you’re not ‘plastic’ like other women. Well, to say I was bewitched and bedazzled was an understatement.” He looked up from his computer and said, “I don’t know how to turn on the dishwasher.”We have had that dishwasher for at least 10 years. Ah….those Australian men – they don’t know how to take care of their women. By the time we got to Fiumicino he could have said ‘empty your wallet and give me all your credit cards’ I would have happily complied.My husband never goes for a standard bouquet of flowers, it has to be exaggeratedly huge and beautiful. So, we were late for this dinner and he got a massive bouquet and we hopped on the Washington metro, got off at our stop and rushed up the stairs.
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I watched him flirtatiously hand her the flowers and ask her to hold them while he messed with his metrocard.
His Italian accent had suddenly become more intense, as had his inability to put the damn metro card into the turnstile machine.
If you read one of my first blog posts “How I Ended Up in Italy” you will find out how my Italian husband seduced me in one fell swoop with a kiss on the hand on the campus of Columbia University in New York.
Years later, when we were married and had three kids and living in Rome, I was having coffee with a British friend married to an Italian when she casually turned to me and said, “Well, obviously you are familiar with the Italian saying ‘Italian men are the world’s best lovers and the world’s worst husbands.’ It was as though she had hit me in the head with a frying pan.
CATHERINE’S TALEFirst up – I am 50 years old, divorced, could lose a few pounds and haven’t had a man in my life for a long, long time. I sat in the front beside him as the Amalfi Coast bends were making me carsick. It’s crazy but during that two-hour car trip, this young (15 years my junior) Italian man threw off my ‘invisibility cloak’ and I am so grateful to him for that. I have google searched this and have found that other women from countries like Australia, USA and Britain have also come under the spell of their beautifully crafted flirting. A few days ago, on January 24th, Italy marked the 10th anniversary of the death of one of Italy’s most elegant, refined, sophisticated, and dashing men. I am talking about the Italian Industrialist, and head of Fiat, Gianni Agnelli.
I would say I’ve reached the unenviable time of life when, in Australia, women like me become invisible. So I shoved the card in my purse and watched him leave. Thank heavens for travel insurance, I was thinking. So…a few days later we’re in Positano and I said to my aunty that we should call this guy as we needed to get to the Fiumicino airport and he could probably drive us there. He may say words like that to many women – and I’m sure he does -but on that drive he was saying them to me. NOTE TO BLOG READERS: In a few days I will post Catherine’s Part II, but please feel free to send your comments, thoughts and answers to Catherine’s Question: What is it with Italian Men? I think he represents what Italians see as the best kind of seducer–extremely polite, elegant, and discreet.It was so obvious and yet somehow it had never occurred to me. Italian men are born to seduce, they are raised to seduce, they spend their lives seducing and I think they all must die while trying to seduce the nurses in the hospital.This does not mean they go through with it, they just practice the art of seduction on all the women they meet.I was tempted to say: “I’ve seen you turn on women age 20 to age 70 with a smile, maybe it is time you learned how to turn on a dishwasher.” Instead I said, “Buonanotte.” Enough said. I noticed you were wearing no ring when I saw you at the hotel in Naples. When I handed him a tip, he moved forward put his arms around me and kissed me. If I wasn’t leaning on the car I would have turned to water and flowed slowly down the nearest drain. This may sound nuts but I came home a different person.On to Catherine’s delightful, comical tale of being seduced by an Italian man. When I pulled myself together inside the airport and my heart rate returned to normal, I had one question. After all, I was leaving the country – we were at the airport! I lost 15 pounds and found the sexy woman that was buried and dormant underneath the grocery shopper/teacher/daughter/bill payer and single mother.I turned around and started walking back down the stairs and then halted, frozen in disbelief.