I have been fighting some kind of death flu.
For three days last week, I was laid out, sweating and freezing and sniffling and generally not enjoying the beautiful days and lovely nights that were happening right outside my window. Instead, I was watching Ellen reruns, and wondering if the phlegm that had annexed every single square millimetre of nasal passage and sinus cavity could possibly be construed as a weapon of mass destruction.
I'm better now, but for a bone-wracking cough that leaves you with a very clear audio picture of my rattling lungs and rough-red throat.
* * *
So, apropos of nothing at all, except for my absolute need to believe that some bloody day, my obviously not-too-concerned-with-punctuality prince will come, here's a little tale for you.
I hadn't been off the plane from London an hour when my mother says to me with glee, "Have I got a story for you!"
I suppose you need some history, don't you? Right, well, 16 years ago, my family took a month-long trip to Italy. So as not to spend four straight weeks rotting in the small-town heat and being corrupted by small-town boys, my mother decided that a week-long tour around the northern regions of Italy was in order. And besides, all that art and culture that Italy is famed for? Yeah, well, none of it comes from the town from which my family hails. You want grapes? We've got those. Figs? Sure. Art, culture, tolerance or open minds? Sorrrry, we no got dem herrre. Now eat. Yourrr pasta gonna get cold.
And so we were off, to discover Michelangelo's David, and Donnatello's... art. We saw cathedrals upon cathedrals, and more crypts than you can shake a stick at. We drove by Romeo's castle, rode in a gondola and cut our after-dinner fruit with a fork and knife, because, well, do as the Romans do, right?
There were Spanish and French holiday-makers on that tour bus with us, as well as a few rather frightening Italian honeymoon couples and three other Canadians aside from our little group of six. Danny and Mary were married, in their mid-twenties, and as much fun as my fifteen-year old self could find on that trip. Frank was Mary's 23-year old brother who was travelling with them before heading off to the Sorbonne for the autumn semester.
When you're 15, a lovely, kind, soft-spoken 23-year old is not going to pique your interest. Aside from being absolutely ancient, he wasn't dark or dashing or romantic enough. He wasn't even Italian enough. Oh sure, he was Italian like I was Italian, and we both hailed from Toronto, which has got to be the most Italian city in the world, outside of Rome. But he wasn't a native and he wasn't part of the seething, frothing band of hormonal boys I had been busy flirting with the week before, in my parent's hometown. He spoke English, and he wasn't an ass, so I had no real interest in him. My mother kind of teased me, but honestly, he was just a really nice guy who let a teenage girl tag along whenever we got free time to wander through churches and villages and souvenir shops. I may have sat next to him at dinner a couple of times, which may have left me only mildly nervous, but that's it. I asked him to write me in Canada from France, and he was lovely enough to do it, and that was that. My aunt and uncle, who also took the tour with us, kept in contact with the Mary-Danny bit of the family for a few years, exchanging Christmas cards and such, but other than that, we lost all touch.
Until, and then, and here it is... While I was in London, my mother was having lunch with a client one day, and a strange woman accosted her with a smile of recognition. "Remember me?" she said, and they were off. Sixteen years later, and Mary and a friend of hers were having lunch and saw my mother. They exchanged pleasantries, and Mary asked about us. My mother, of course, managed to get in that I wasn't married yet, and Mary shared the same fact about Frank.
"There's a nice couple for you," said Mary's friend, nudging her in the side, after Frank's sister told my mother that he was still single, that they were still trying to marry him off. My mother told me that she remained cool through-out, but I could tell that the prospect of a potential husband for me had her eyes shining. Nevertheless, it was Mary that pressed Frank's email on my mother, asking her to give it to me, making sure she wrote it down correctly, making sure I'd write.
And so I wrote. Come on, did you think I wouldn't? I live for this kind of stuff! And he wrote back, and then I did and then he did and then I did again. That's pretty much where we stand now. Maybe he'll ask me out for coffee. Maybe I'll suck it up and ask him out for a drink. Maybe I'll never see the guy. Maybe he'll stop asking his sister to set him up with women, because he just wants to be left alone with his boyfriend. I don't know.
But it'd be a hell of a thing to find out, wouldn't it?
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