Virtue of modesty yet to be learned by average Italian man

As columnist Libby Peck discovered, American dating discretion isn’t always a universal trait.

As columnist Libby Peck discovered, American dating discretion isn’t always a universal trait.

For months leading to my departure abroad, my infamous University of Pennsylvania love interest would try and rationalize me out of my desire to study in Italy.Picture 6

“Why would you want to go there?” he said every time I brought it up. “It’s dirty, smelly, and all the Italian men are creepy.”

Well, Rome is kind of dirty, but it’s the dirt that comes with age and being well-worn. It also smells, but unlike Philadelphia, the scent isn’t of urine – thanks to the national ignorance of deodorant. And, despite the stereotypes Italian men may have, they’re only creepy for one reason: no sense of subtlety.

Let’s be real for a minute here. All men, no matter where they live or what language they speak, inherently want the same thing – sex.

Truth be told, that’s what the modern woman wants, too. And the way Italians see it, that’s as simple as it needs to be – animalistic instincts stripped down to their core, feelings out in the open, truth being told.

If you read my column last year, you know I hate the petty love games played in our culture. But, as much as I hate to admit it, the straightforwardness of men here is a little too obvious for me.

My roommate and good friend Juliet and I were minding our own innocent American business at a touristy restaurant near the Spanish Steps last week when we unknowingly attracted the attention of two Italian men, our waiter and his boss. At first, we didn’t think anything of the waiter’s free fill-up on our liter jug of house wine or his hilarious attempts to help us with our Italian skills, or lack thereof.

Then came the limoncello shots. And more wine.

Alessandro – our waiter – distracted us by asking questions about where we were studying, how long we’d be in town and where we were living, while Carmello – the boss – and his minions cleaned up the tables around us, leaving the two-person table completely dressed and crumb-covered at 2 a.m. on a Saturday night.

Insert an alarm here. We kept asking Alessandro, “Il conto, il conto per favore,” but the check didn’t appear until 2:30, when all signs of life in eyesight of Spagna had been extinguished. If this were a Hollywood horror flick, the next scene would show the streetlights mysteriously flickering off and the drugs in our free table wine slowly taking over our senses.

But this isn’t Hollywood, this is the life of Libby Peck. Only humor can ensue.

We paid the part of the check we actually ordered, and were then invited inside the deserted restaurant for dessert – and more wine, naturally.

American ‘90s music flowed through the empty interior as Juliet and I nervously sipped our free wine. “Come si dice ‘roofie’?” she asked the sketchy pair as they watched the liquid pass from glass to lips. They denied any attempts of illegal activity, and Alessandro took a sip from our glasses to gain our trust.

That trust was lost when we actually tried communicating with them in our broken Italian. What began as us trying to get to know them, asking where they were from and what they studied in school, ended up with them telling us, more or less, that all they wanted was a couple of one night stands.

Juliet immediately freaked out.

“You can’t say that in America!” I responded with a gaping mouth and giggles of shock. We tried telling them that, in saying such a thing outright to American girls, they would immediately scare us away.

But in calling their bluntness “molto aggressivo,” we offended their fragile male egos and decided to run as fast as our heels could take us to the nearest bus stop.

So kids, the moral of the story here is moderation: the key to reeling in an American girl. Do we want to bother with your mind games for months? No, we’ll become annoyed with you. Do we want to hear you only want sex from us? No, we know that already. But we’d rather dwell on implications than the obvious.

Libby Peck can be reached at

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