Sun kissed. That’s Rome in on this particular day. The city is glowing softly from the inside out and the outside in. My friend Massimo and I are taking a walk through a hilly park. The path we’re walking is made up of large rocks embedded into the ground and sticking out at awkward angles. Of course, I’m not wearing appropriate footwear, so I’m trying hard not to wipe out. Massimo tells me that I am walking very elegantly for someone in high heels, as I desperately clutch onto his arm for support. Sure I am.
We pass dogs. Lots of dogs. I am in dog heaven. I try convincing Massimo to get one. “I have not time for a dog,” he says.
I am amazed at the amount of pet dogs in Rome. I had heard that strays – or “bastardino”- ran amuck in Italy, but here in Rome, all sorts of dogs are beloved pets. More than any other breed, I’ve seen a lot of labrador retrievers. And there are a lot at the park today. The sight of them, especially the blonde ones, make my heart ache for the loss of Sadie, my beloved yellow lab who died eight years ago. RIP.
There are also a lot of people in the park, naturally. The park is called Monte Mario, which I think is just a fabulous name. People love to stroll in Italy, and why not? Older women, arm in arm, taking in the sights, the smells, the air. Groups of youths sitting on the benches, smoking hash. Couples walking with their hands in each other’s back pockets. Mother’s with daughters. Generations of families all out together.
To our right is Rome. A clear view of the entire city, lit up by the sun, who was in the mood to shine today. Maybe it’s a coincidence that Rome shares three out of four of her name’s letters with the word Romance, but I doubt it. Everything about it is sensual, beautiful, miraculous – especially from this angle.
Massimo and I are walking, talking and laughing. Laughing at our language differences. Laughing because most of what he knows about North America he learned from watching Southpark. I ask him inane questions like,”how do you say lab in Italian” (it’s Labrador, btw). And then, to ruin the moment, my phone rings. It’s a text message from a North American number that I don’t know. For a moment, I am filled with a rush of homesickness. And then I read it.
“I have a belly full of last night chinese, and I’m hungover. I woke up sweating with a boner. westcoast”
I have no idea who this could be from, and it totally catches me off guard. Massimo, seeing the shocked look on my face as I stare at the screen of my cellphone, asks me what it says, so I let him read it. I figure we can have a laugh over it. He starts reading the text out loud. Then, near the end, he looks up at me – puzzled.
“Boner?” he says. “What is boner?”
I start laughing.
“What?! What is this word, ‘Boner’?” he says.
There seem to be people all around us now, and even though I’m sure 90 per cent of them dont know what the word boner means, I am caught between being mortified and wonderfully amused.
“Tell me, please. Boner. What is it?!” Massimo says. “Carla, what is boner!?”
He seems to be repeating the word on purpose now.
I bury my hands in my face and then look at him through my spread out fingers. “Ok, I’ll tell you,” I say back.
Apparently, this exchange has turned me into a 12-year-old girl who can’t say anatomical words without bursting out into fits of giggles.
I finally compose myself and say, “You know when a man gets excited?” No response.
So, I put my arm down to my knee and then slowly raise it up, bending it at the elbow. I’m praying to God he catches on soon, as people are definitely looking at me now. Even the dogs seem to know what I’m doing.
“Ahh!” he says, “Erezione!”
I’m still laughing.
“Boner?” he repeats.