(There’s a picture on the slideshow of Tanisha with my ANTONIO. Immabout to fly to Italy with some Vaseline and brass knuckles!!)
Dating Italian Style
by Tanisha Everett
Every morning I wake-up I must pinch myself. I cannot believe I am actually living my dream. I look out my window and see the multi-colored apartment buildings, and hear the vespas zipping through the streets. I smell grilled garlic wafting through my window and hear voices passionately speaking in a foreign language that I somewhat understand.
No, I am not chilling under the Tuscan sun and getting my groovy groove back with an Italian Stallion named Antonio, although I must say I am not old enough to have lost my groove. I am here studying the Italian culture, a dream I have had since I left the island of Sicily in 1997 after being stationed there for two years. The Italian people were very welcoming. The men did not hesitate to compliment my beauty or my skin. In fact, the first time I was called beautiful was in Sicily. This was unusual for me because I was not used to beauty being associated with dark skin. I am from Houston, TX where Beyonce is the beauty standard.
I never forgot Sicily or the wonderful things I learned about myself and I vowed I would one day return. I made that happen in August of this year after a long year of working two jobs to save up to come to school here. I spent a lot of my time telling my Black American counterparts that Europeans are nothing like Americans. There is no beauty standard. Most Europeans are attracted to poise, charm and confidence not race.
I have found that to be even truer since I have arrived. I have been flirted with by Pakistani guys in the market which I assured them would never happen in the Statesâ€”to which they responded why? Well leave it to say that my Italian was not good enough to explain the race caste system in the States. Or as my friends from the East and West coast would say, the race, color caste system of the south.
I hate over generalizing America. I have lived in NYC and Boston and believe me the race and color issue in dating is almost non-existent, hell I am a black American Jewish Buddhist–don’t ask– myself, what a paradox that is. However, being from Houston, TX has allotted me a different POV when dealing with race relations, especially those within dating. My black girlfriends are hell bent on finding that black knight in shining armor and I am just hell bent on finding any knight in shining armor. I mean who wears armor anyways these days?
The one thing I love about Europe and Italy in particular is that no matter where I go, I have so many Italian men chasing me down it is not even funny–talk about an ego boost. At the Pizzeria around the corner from my house, the chef flirts with me all the time. Last week when I went in to order my favorite pizza, I received a surpriseâ€”the word LOVEâ€”made with asparagus in the center of my pizza, courtesy of Tony the Pizza guy. What can I say, Italians love dark skin, the darker the better. They also love blondes and redheads too. These physical traits are not the same as the fetishizing that happens in America. They do not have the same stigmas or history as we do. In the States, I always wonder if a white guy is dating me because of some black girl fantasy, here the thought never crosses my mind.
MORE AFTER THE SLIDESHOW
My friend Feather who is traveling through Europe for six months, came to visit me for two weeks. She decided to head to the southern part of Italy near Naples where she said that she had an Italian man around 80 years of age serenade her in the streets and a three year old size her up like a man in his twenties. One thing is for sure. These men don’t play when it comes to their passion about women and amore.
The other thing I love about being here is how no one cares about age either. I have been hanging out with a Sicilian guy who is 13 years my senior. No one stares at us when walk down the street. When we run into his friends in the center of town no one blinks an eyelash at our age or hue difference, in fact no one gives a damn; most people think its great. These things are normal faire here. Older, younger, black or white, no one notices the things that play a major role in American society. No one talks about race here–unless they are trying to understand Americans thinking– or even age because none of these things are taboo.
Don’t get me wrong, the above is not to say that there are no assholes here. They live here in abundance. But for the most part most people don’t judge what they see on the outside, unless it is poorly dressed, I do live in the most fashionable country in the world.
Living in Italy is quite liberating. You get to escape, or just plain put aside the very things that encumber American society. Here, people just live each day like it is their last. Family and friends come first. Work takes third place. Attaining things enamors no one. Food is kingâ€”and very healthy– and flirting is a national past time. The men are romantic, passionate and unafraid to show emotions, they dress quite fashionably, and it is not considered â€˜gay.â€™ What is there not to love about Italy?