While I drank a lot less in Florence than I did when I lived in Salt lake, I still found myself out at least three nights per week. My favorite spot was a rock and roll pub called Angies that I’d discovered through my school’s nude model, Lorenzo, who posed weekly in my painting and drawing classes. Lorenzo DJ’d at a few hip clubs around the city a few nights per week. He took advantage of the fact that he worked with students by promoting his club nights while sitting awkwardly with his elephant truck resting nonchalantly on his leg. I’ve drawn or painted his penis at least two-hundred times. If asked, the one thing I learned in art school was to draw his penis from memory. I believe in sixty years I’ll still have this magical gift.
I was at Angies one night in January having a drink with my roommates, and a Guy student from our program. The bar was its usual dingy and dark self, the kind of place that had a specific odor that was somewhere between a strippers thigh towards the end of a long shift and a men’s urinal. It was sexy in a heroin chic kind of way, with its red walls yet outlandishly cartoonish with the number of blue whale caricatures that decorated the wall spaces and ceiling. In the back room, where the DJ booth and makeshift dance area was located, hardcore porn played on a small T.V. that hung from the ceiling with a metal hanger. I liked Lorenzo for a DJ because he played the right mix of Lady Gaga and Fleetwood Mac. It was a home-away from home because it was dark and dingy like my soul. It was also awsome that the owners never charged me for drinks and let me dance on the bar when I had ten too many.
The bar was hit or miss. Some nights it was empty with maybe ten patrons, most who were Morroccan drug dealers. The other nights it was like a sorority hazing, of eighteen year old girls well over their alcohol limit, packed into the space like a beehive. It was nights like this that I often stood on top of one of the coffee tables to avoid human contact with the buzzing teens. That’s how I met my husband. I was standing on top of a booze soaked table, tapping my heels to the beat of music, splashing cigarette butts and hepatitis under my heels. The guy from the grad program and Anne were both standing next to me on top of the table. My South African Princess was in the mess of things twerking her peers into shame. The Guy leaned over and said, “I’d really like to date an Italian girl while I’m here. At least one.” And I went on, in a totally unfounded cocky way, to explain that getting a date was simple. You had to ask. That’s it. “Easier said than done,” he added. At that exact moment an attractive Italian man walked into the back room wearing a black peacoat with his collar popped up. He had a drink in his hand and was obviously looking for someone. He crossed the sea of bodies and turned towards us. “Watch.” I told The Guy. I pointed, drunkenly, and like a total asshole, at the peacoat guy, and then in front of myself to communicate in chimpanzee language that I wanted him to walk his adorable ass from the wall to me. He started coming over to me but was interrupted by a student stopping him and then My South African Princess’ ass was somehow going up and down in front of him. The rest of My South African Princess was on the floor. He pointed to me, she laughed and nodded, and he ended up at my feet.
“Hi. What’s your name?” I asked.
“Cool. Come and get my number before you leave.” I said. Then I stood back up and went about my business. He nodded and walked off.
About ten minutes later I snatched a pen and paper from DJ/Nude model Lorenzo and handed my number to Francesco who was simply standing around casually chatting with people he clearly didn’t know. “Here. Call me. But not until Thursday because I have class.” I said. He nodded again. Then, a few minutes later he left the bar.
“Are you fucking kidding me!?” The Guy said. I shrugged and felt smugly proud of myself as if I’d accomplished something amazing by drunkenly handing a drunk man my phone number at a bar. Alcohol clearly does weird things for my ego.
My husband told me a year later after we were engaged that his first thought was, “She’s too pretty for me,” and the second thought was, “but she’s totally going to be easy.” For the record I totally wasn’t. Sucker.
He called me exactly on Thursday one week later. That was our first date (which is another story and another blog post and another embarrassing chapter in my life).