Love Is...

Maria’s love life wasn’t like everyone else’s, because she didn’t have one. She was seventeen years old and had only kissed two guys and experienced “the dating world” twice. On numerous occasions Maria had to claw her way out of the black hole known as “third wheel hell”. Some of Maria’s friends tried to take the initiative and set her up on dates, which she simply replied, “Ummm, I don’t think so. It’s just not going to happen.” But essentially, it always did.
Remembering her first “date”, Maria couldn’t figure out how her friends suckered her into it. Their conversation, as she recalled, was basically about his fight with a guy, how incredibly obsessed he was with his looks and his goal of becoming a football star. She realized there was no spark, that he had been hit on the head one too many times and that a box of hair was more intellectually stimulating than him. She tried her best to hold out as long as she could, but she came to a point where she would rather gouge her eyes out then spend another minute on this date. Maria decided to use the woman’s foolproof plan of getting out of any situation. She faked cramps. Date one was in the books.
Her second “date” wasn’t as glamourous seeing as how she was tricked into it. Two of her friends, who were dating themselves, thought it would be nice to set Maria up with someone they felt was perfect for her. Before the date even started, Maria repeatedly told her friends that it was not a date and they should tell the guy that. “Don’t worry Maria he knows, he knows,” they would reply, until Maria realized that it wasn’t true. While eating at the newest Sushi place in town, Maria understood that her situation was only going to get worse. The guy thought it would be “cute” to play footsies with her. She wasn’t happy with that. He then thought it would be funny to play sumo wrestlers with their fish. Strike two in Maria’s books. But the thing that threw Maria off completely was when the guy sneezed into his hands and then caressed Maria’s arm. Strike three. After drenching her arm in Purell, Maria turned to her friends and said, “Daniela and Mass, I love you guys, but this isn’t working. I can’t believe you thought this guy was perfect for me. I told you this wasn’t even a date. Brody? Cody?”
“It’s Marco,” he stated.
“Marco, whatever it is. I’m sorry but I don’t think I can do this anymore. I told them this wasn’t a date, and, well, you thought it was. Sorry but you’re just not my type. You’re kind of gross.”
Maria paid for her meal, walked out of the restaurant and into her car, glad that she never saw again.
Maria’s friends weren’t the only ones trying to find her someone; even her mother jumped on the bandwagon. She always said to her, “You’re such a pretty girl, why can’t you get a boyfriend?” Maria rolled her eyes and replied “If you had seen the guys who asked me out you would understand why. They look like they just came out of jail about 20 minutes ago.” Her mother was the kind that liked to stick her nose in her daughter’s business. She was only doing what any mother would do. Keeping her daughter’s best interests at heart, her mother decided to help Maria out with her situation.
The day started out like this, “Maria, I want you to meet the owner of a restaurant that just opened. He’s a young guy and very good looking.”
“Mom, will you stop.”
But about two weeks later Maria’s mom convinced her to go to the restaurant. When she walked in she stopped dead in her tracks. She could not believe who was looking back at her, as she desperately tried to hold back the laughter. ‘Holy crap, this must be some kind of joke,’ she thought. Maria and her mom were seated when Maria broke out in a whisper “Don’t you know who that was mom?”
“No, but wasn’t he good looking.”
With a look of disgust Maria said, “Ewww mom, I would never. That guy used to be a huge singer back in the 90s, until he snorted all his money up his nose. He’s a big loser now, mom. I feel like I’m on an episode of ‘Whatever Happened To…?’ Ha ha ha ha, I can’t wait to tell my friends.”
The barking of the neighbour’s dogs snapped Maria out of her thoughts, as she was peering outside her parent’s bedroom window of their 1960’s inspired home in Italy. Looking out, she saw the sun shining on the area known as Val di Comino. A mountainous region that surrounded the valley below for centuries had been home to her parents since their birth. Maria found it peaceful here; it allowed her to think about things more clearly, such as her past experiences with “love”.
That night in town, called Casalvieri, was the second annual Insieme con Gusto, which brought the different, well-known foods of the area to one place. While her mother and father walked around and tasted the truffles of Campoli Appennino, the beans of Casal delle Mole, and the pasta fagioli made by the local restaurant, Maria listened to music in peace and watched the people mingling with one another.
After the Insieme con Gusto was over, Maria and her parents walked towards the town bar. They stepped onto the patio, which was built along the only street that passed through the town. Maria and her parents reminisced with family members and old friends. Even Maria’s friend Diana from Canada was in town. As Maria was chatting with her she spotted a familiar face and said, “Pietro, come stai? How are you?” Greeting Pietro, the well-known bartender of Casalvieri, he replied in his broken English, “Maria, come stai? Non che male. Not bad. You come for a cappuccino light?”
Maria laughed saying, “You remembered. Yes, I would like a cappuccino please. Grazie.” Within a matter of minutes her drink had arrived, but when Maria looked up to say thank you she wasn’t expecting to see him. Pietro’s son Niccolò had placed the cappuccino and her favourite drink, Bailey’s, on the table. He gave her a hug, kissed both her cheeks and said “Ciao Maria, how are you doing?”
Maria hadn’t seen Niccolò in over a year, yet he still looked the same. His hair was a little bit longer, but his appearance was just as she remembered. His olive skin, dark brown hair, which complimented his blue eyes and his demeanor hadn’t changed. He was still the sweet guy she had known from years past.
“Hey Niccolò, I’m doing quite well. My parents and I arrived this morning so I’m excited to be here.”
Maria was a big romantic, dreaming of finding that guy who was just like Mr. Darcy in her favourite book Pride & Prejudice. Judging by Niccolò’s character, he seemed to fit the profile. The smiles, gentle touches on her waist or arm, kisses on her cheeks and even remembering her favourite drink made Maria think that maybe there was someone out there for her. Someone who wasn’t so obsessed with himself, who played with his food or tried to contaminate her with his germs. She never had a guy take notice of her and the little things she liked.
Even Maria’s friend saw that something was brewing. “So was that the guy you told me about last summer,” asked Diana when Niccolò went back into the bar.
“Yea, that’s him. Isn’t he cute?”
“Maria, how old is he?”
“Twenty years old. Why?”
“Well, because he looks like he’s thirty.”
“Everyone in Italy looks like they are older than their real age. I think it’s something in the food,” Maria laughed as her and her parents got ready to go home.
“You going to be here for the mercato tomorrow?” she asked Diana.
“I wouldn’t miss it for the world. See you tomorrow Maria.”
Since Maria’s parents didn’t know the concept of “holidays” and “sleeping in”, they made her get up at 7 o’clock in the morning so that they could get to the market early. Once they arrived back at the town Maria turned to her parents and with the look of sleep deprivation on her face said, “Ok, I really need a cappuccino.” They walked towards the bar where Maria saw Diana and her family enjoying some early morning beverages as well.
“Your parents woke you up early too?” asked Maria.
“Unfortunately,” replied Diana groggily.
“Ha ha ha, come on sleepy head let’s go get a coffee.”
“Oh by the way, your boyfriend is inside,” said Diana hoping Maria would gush and go bright red.
“He’s not my boyfriend. Nothing is going to happen anyways. I’m not here for that long.”
They entered the bar and behind the counter stood Niccolò and his father Pietro, ready to make coffees for their paying customers. Maria noticed that Niccolò was wearing glasses, which she found he suited and made him look really cute. He walked around the counter to greet the girls and already knowing what they wanted Pietro placed their coffees on the counter. Pietro left the two girls and Niccolò inside the bar to attend to his customers on the patio. Maria and Diana talked with Niccolò until they finished their cappuccinos. Turning to Maria, Diana said, “I have to go to the washroom, so wait here,” leaving Niccolò and Maria to talk among themselves.
“Are you having a good time so far?” Niccolò asked Maria.
“Yea, I am. I really like it here.”
“Are you going to visit places?”
“Yup, we’re going to the Amalfi Coast, Roma, Pescara, and Venezia.”
“Wow, you’ll be busy. Do you think that maybe when you finish visiting we could go out?”
Maria couldn’t believe he had just asked her out. She was about to burst with excitement but she quickly pulled herself together and said, “Yeah, sure, that sounds good.” He told her to let him know what would be best when Diana returned.
“When what was best?” asked Diana curiously.
“Ummm, we have to get going, but I’ll let you know when I’m free. Ciao Niccolò.”
“Ciao Maria. Ciao Diana.”
“Ciao,” replied the girls in unison.
Outside the bar Diana asked again what Niccolò was talking about. “He asked me out on a date,” Maria finally told her.
“Oh my god! What did you say? Did you say yes?”
“I told him I would let him know when I was free.”
“Well you better tell him soon. Find out from your parents.”
They walked towards Maria’s mom and told her that she was asked out by Niccolò. Remembering how her mother was always trying to set her up with someone, Maria figured that she would be okay with this. She was wrong.
“I don’t think I want you going out with him.”
“Mom, why not?”
“Well what if you get too attached and then you’ll want to stay here and end up marrying him and I’ll never see you again.”
“Wow, you need to relax. Who said anything about getting married? I’m only seventeen and it’s just an innocent date. Besides this guy is a lot better than the ones you’ve tried to set me up with. Remember the restaurant owner?”
“My greatest fear in life is that you’ll find someone here,” retorted her mother.
“Please, can you just let me go on the date?”
“Alright. Tell him we’re not doing anything next week.”
“Oh thank you mom. You’re the best,” she said excitedly, kissing her mom on the cheek. “Diana, come with me so I can tell him.”
Upon arriving back at the bar to tell Niccolò the news, she saw him in an affection embrace with some girl and then kissed her on the lips. Maria and Diana were both stunned. Niccolò had basically strung Maria along, and being the type of girl that wouldn’t let something like that go, she went to confront him.
“Qui e questo? Who is this?” she asked angrily.
“Sono suo fidanzata. I am his girlfriend. Who are you?”
“I’m the girl he just asked out on a date. I thought you were different Niccolò. You were always so sweet. Good to know you’re just another loser,” she said as she stormed off with Diana in tow.
“Maria, wait, I can explain,” Niccolò replied.
Turning around Maria yelled back, “Cacati in mano e prenditi a schiaffi!” Everyone around heard her say this and were staring in utter disbelief, especially Maria’s parents.
“Maria! I can’t believe you just told him to shit in his hand and smack himself with it, in front of everyone,” Diana stated in a shocking tone.
Turning towards her mother Maria said, “Now you won’t have to worry about me finding someone in Italy and moving here. I want to go home.”

Love Is...


Joined January 2008

  • Artist


life love italy

desktop tablet-landscape content-width tablet-portrait workstream-4-across phone-landscape phone-portrait
desktop tablet-landscape content-width tablet-portrait workstream-4-across phone-landscape phone-portrait

10% off

for joining the Redbubble mailing list

Receive exclusive deals and awesome artist news and content right to your inbox. Free for your convenience.