Friday, August 1, 2008

Greetings from: ROME

On the train ride to Rome, I silently played “gay or Eurotrash” with the guy across the aisle from me.

Eurotrash points:

  • plastic frame aviator sunglasses
  • black leather loafers with rubber cleated soles with navy blue socks
  • ostentatious ring on right hand with undecipherable symbol
  • polo with a full-color brand symbol the size of his palm

Gay points:

  • sings along and seat-dances to Madonna on his iPod mini
  • carries a Prada manpurse
  • fashionable female friend with chunky necklace
  • wears a Louis Vuitton belt
  • has “concerto Madonna” written in big block letters in his day planner, which he then proceeds to color in
Sorry, gals. The gays have it.

I’ve noticed that the Roman men wear great suits and great shoes but only OK glasses. They also, it seems, a penchant for bikini briefs (don't ask me how I know, but it has to do with watching too much MTV Italia, all right?). But don’t take this as a complaint; it’s hard to criticize too much when surrounded by good-looking, dark-complexioned men who aren’t afraid to have body hair creeping out of their shirt collars. I’ve always wondered if the Italian-American machismo attitude was directly imported from Italy, or if it’s another all-American creation, like the fluffernutter. I think it’s probably an altered form of that machismo: the swarthy I’m a man pose blended with a Protestant-cum-Catholic work ethic. It goes beyond simply being a cultural phenomenon and transforms into a pose that Italian-Americans have to actively cultivate. Of course, I didn’t suffer the horror stories I’ve heard some female travelers tell about Italy: stares, catcalls, eyeroll-worthy pick-up attempts, and the ever-popular ass-pinch.

In fact, I kind of felt left out.

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