Come on, baby, light my fire

Atomic Boy copy“Come with me, little girl,” said Fausto, leading me back inside. “I’ll light your candy cigarette for you.”

The easiness of us surprised me. I had thought a relationship with an Italian man would be fuelled by arguments and accusations, judging by the amount of couples I came upon in the street doing their impression of a Punch and Judy show. I hadn’t wanted to acknowledge the old stereotypes until I realized Italians wholly embraced them: women liked to be whistled at because it signified an appreciation of their femininity and the efforts they made with their appearance; men wore the lothario label proudly as a tribute to their manhood; both sexes considered outlandish exhibitions of jealousy a sign of devotion, and any reference to their highly strung personality was amended with the word ‘passionate’ and accepted with a shrug.

However, in Fausto, I had stumbled upon the antitype: reflective and trusting, he was an example of the less-chronicled new model of Italian male. He would come in from a football match and rustle me up a risotto. Next to his slickly presented countrymen, his hair never conceded to his wishes, its colour alone preventing him from ever appearing coordinated.

Among the sprawling herds of Vespas, Aprilias and Piaggios, his scooter, which he named Quasimodo, was the proverbial black sheep, a triumph of individuality. He didn’t own a cell phone carrying instead a battered volume of Italian poetry in the back pocket of his jeans.

I enjoyed his cooking—especially the truffle dishes––preferred his dishevelled manliness to the plucked and tweezed variety, and even developed a grudging respect for Quasimodo which he had assembled with his brother over the course of a summer mostly from scrap parts. The poetry he recited was from the thirteenth-century and had nothing to do with modern Italian established in the seventeenth century, so while I loved how it sounded—scholarly, lyrical, romantic—I didn’t understand a word.

All in all, Fausto and I had the kind of relationship I couldn’t even have dreamt up for myself.


The next day…

The sound of my phone ringing lifted me from my thoughts: it was Edward.

“Oh thank goodness, I am saved,” I said. “I’m on the tram of the damned, miles from civilization, hurtling through the frozen inner circle of hell. Keep me company, Edward. Tell me stories so I don’t fall asleep and end up God knows where.”

“Okay. How’s this for a story? I lent my flat to a friend for an evening, and she burnt the fucking place down.”

— Excerpt from SILK FOR THE FEED DOGS by Jackie Mallon

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