So, in yesterday’s post I told you about how I began my young adolescence in Italy, having lived the rest of my precedent life in very different continents and cultures.
Yet I was soon picking up on stuff: boys liked me. I was cute, and I was, for want of a better word, I guess, constantly horny. Horny in the sense that I absolutely loved boys’ attention, but even at such a young age, I already knew that it was ME, preying on THEM. I will leave further telling and speculation about this particular aspect of my puberty years for my book. I know many people would be shocked to hear a twelve/thirteen year-old can be sexually predatory. I certainly don’t want my daughter of the same age to know about it now nor would I want her to be! It only leads to trouble. But occasionally, being so full of life and laughter and so easy to get along with can have its advantages, and bring lovely surprises.
So, back when I lived in the «Farmhouses of the Adda», there was the other lot of house, on the other side of us, called «The Farms of the Adda».
There lived there a few boys, and they were friends with a boy who lived further down along the road who owned the massive gigantic villa on top of a hill. For us, mostly girls with only way-too-young boys available inside our own private residence, this was a fantastic new input. The boys were all from “good families”, respectable and all that, so my friends could relax in their parents’ approval of their frequenting them.
It was me that began this friendship with them, and it was through Michele.
Michele was a drop-dead gorgeous boy, who was 15 when I was 13, who would come over to our lot to play tennis with some of our people there. He played with my brother, with our friend Alessandro, also a very good tennis player, with older people, because he was that good. They called him «Il Negro» not as a derisive or insulting term (at the time the Lega Lombarda, who would bring out the worst in Italian people’s latent racism, wasn’t popular yet), but as a compliment: he tanned the moment he felt the sun, and he tanned deeply and darkly. He had beautiful doe eyes and long eyelashes, a perfect nose and lush lips, and he was as fit as they come. Boy was Michele beautiful.
I noticed him and he seemed nice and, as would happen many times in the future, I had no problems befriending this beautiful boy all the girls were too abashed to speak to. Somehow I was never sexually attracted to the truly beautiful, so it was always easy to make friends with them. As we became friends, we extended our friendship over the other guys at the “Fattorie”. My girl friends were very happy to make friends with this lot, as these weren’t the scruff rough provincial town boy types I insisted on meeting up with and introducing to them, these were polished Milanese boys in their home away from the city (as my girl friends were). Michele was never excessively polished, despite his rich family, which is why we became such friends, so quickly.
Many months passed, maybe a year or two. Girls met and regularly fell head over heels in love with the beautiful Michele, who was always kind but never seemed to want to take things further with anybody. And no, he was not gay, though he was the sort of boy gay people would want in a magazine.
One day, it was Valentine’s day, and I was waiting for my boyfriend at the time* to come and pick me up. I was sat outside the gate, as I often did, well in advance: I liked being out of the house as often and as early as I could, and I wrote in my diary, as always.
Michele arrived, seemingly casually, and when I asked whom he had come to see, he just shrugged and said «I don’t know». It was a strange response, and he was acting strange, nervous, not relaxed and laid back as he was known to be, at all times. We chatted for a while, and we laughed. I loved laughing with Michele, because his laughter was as rich and lush and beautiful as he was. I never fancied him, because he was too young for me: I was 15 by then, and he was only 17. But being an aesthete, I appreciated his objective beauty.
He said «let’s play a game, shall we?» and I said «OK, what?».
«Let’s play Dear Diary». This immediately appealed to me, because I used to sit in all sorts of places, usually on my moped, and write in my diary, all the time.
«Ha! OK then.» I knew the boys over there were mystified by what I got up to with my many and varied groups of friends. I thought maybe he just wanted to gossip a little.
«You start!», Michele said with his perfect white teeth smile.
«Ok. Well, Dear Diary, I am still recovering from a day spent with the girls obsessing over Michele and wondering who should find the courage to tell him they love him, and as I sit here waiting for ____*, my friend Michele, instead of going to make one of their days by talking to them, is standing here next to me playing strange games».
«I’m sorry, I just… they’re not my type.» He looked down tot he ground, he was abashed, he laughed a little, but this time it was a very quiet laugh. He looked… almost embarrassed.
«Well.. your turn!» said I.
«Ok.. Dear Diary, I am in love with a girl and have been for over a year. She is always lovely to me but I don’t think she sees me that way at all. She went out with a friend of mine for a long time, and I was their friend and it hurt. A lot. But I love her and I was terrified of losing our friendship. But the thing is, Dear Diary, I can’t keep it to myself anymore. I have to tell her. I need to tell her.»
My smile froze a little in confusion. Who was he talking about?
He looked up at me like a coy puppy and then he looked down again. Then he continued:
«So, Dear Diary, all I want is a kiss, because I’ve never had a kiss with her. And she’s my friend and I am afraid to ask but… And I know she has a boyfriend, but I’m worried this is becoming serious for her. And if I don’t tell her now, I may never get a chance again.»
I asked, in a neutral “diary-like” tone:
«What is her name?»
«Her name is Valentina»
I felt a bout of relief. I wasn’t the only Valentina in our group of friends, there was one who was older than me, the same age as Michele, and a dear friend of mine. ‘He HAS to be referring to her’, I thought with relief. So I laughed!
«Ah, dear Michele, well then, just tell her, just kiss her, if not, you’ll never know!»
So he did. He kissed me and he was so lovely but I felt so confused, it was a wonderful, lovely kiss that took my surprise because I’d have expected it would feel like a brother’s kiss, but no, it was just as beautiful as those lips would promise……
I felt flattered, flustered. Very confused. I said:
«Ah but so it wasn’t Valentina F.»
«No, it wasn’t Valentina F. It was you, dummy.» he replied, still holding me close.
I moved away from him, still wondering what to say, still confused. Then _____* arrived, and I kissed Michele on the cheek and said «Thank you» and «I’ll see you later» and gave him a big hug, and he waved his hand at me a little shyly as I got into _____’s car (because of course, _____ was much older than Michele and owned a car) and we left.
Michele and I remained friends, a little confusedly, but very shortly after that I left for the Philippines with my father. I corresponded a little with Michele but my head was filled with a whole new world, and so he eventually faded out into the background… until I one year later I went back to Italy.
But that, is another story.