"Taking himself seriously, so you don't have to."

An American In Anarchia: Part I

I met him in Piazza Libertรก. It was one in the morning, Sunday night. I sat at a bench, setting beside myself a Nike basketball, frayed at the edges, found earlier in the day. I was returning from a poker game with sixty more Euro in my pocket.

 

Two massive arches flanked the piazza, one Roman, the other Enlightenment era. I saw a homeless man sleeping on a bench. I watched a young couple grope and kiss each other. A pool of water reflected the image of the triumphant arches or ‘porte’. I retrieved a notepad and waxed poetical.

 

Two bicycles rolled by closely, one carried a man and woman, smiling, laughing. They stopped for a moment. The woman repositioned herself behind him. They rode off. The one following stopped short of them, and the guy spun his pedals backward a few times, unnecessarily. The chain slipped. He dismounted to investigate.

 

I, in an upbeat, friendly state, asked if I could help in my broken Italian. He said no, that it happened all the time, and with a spin of the pedal again, he righted the chain. Introductions were in order: where I was from, where he was from, common ground, differences between America and Italy. He was mid-30s, average height, strong build, a four-day fuzz covered his cheeks, jet-black hair slicked with an oily substance, cut like a young Elvis.

 

We exchanged numbers. He offered to provide a meal at his girlfriend’s house; I proposed to call him out for a beer later in the week.

 

A day went by (he gave me his weekly schedule, meal the next week on a Monday, when he would have the night free from his job as a chef or a managing chef at his uncle’s pizzeria, the shitty one that got the worst workers, the meals set in a Southern Italian style.) On Tuesday, I called him about meeting at a bar. Though he should have been working, we visited and share a few drinks. I heard about his ex-military past, his connections with his family, his time spent in Cleveland and London. He hated nearly everyone, his own uncle especially. He knew film, soccer, and cooking.

 

That night, I invited him and his girlfriend to a dinner a few days later. They could only come quite late, however, and by the time the dinner finished, and long before their appointed arrival, all the other guests were gone. In my overstuffed state, I went home to sleep, fairly confident that they were at least half-expecting as much. He called and expressed his disappointment, and I apologized for the lack of consideration.

 

The day before, he invited me to a dinner at his house, on a Monday, just past a week after we met originally.

 

He seemed quite trusting, and expressed his astonishment repeatedly over the fortuitousness of our meeting. He claimed that the chain no longer comes off his bike, and with grand flattery, proclaimed me to be the spitting image of the Avenging Angel, Gabrielle.

 

I awaited Monday.

 

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