status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage
One of the primary exclamations that spring from the lips of every female friend and acquaintance upon discovering that I am living in Italy is, “Wow! You can hook yourself one of those gorgeous Italian men!”
I’ve actually been a little too busy even to bait my line, but that hasn’t stopped me visually clocking some of the heart-stoppingly attractive specimens of manhood that prowl the streets of this country.
However, there are several factors that make me think that Italian men are not for me.
1) The majority are married. Although this is not something that they necessarily see as a barrier between them and a little romance, it certainly puts a dampener on my ardor.
A great deal of importance seems to be given to ‘settling down’ here, leading many men to the altar with their childhood sweethearts in their twenties. So they move from the parental home to the marital home without ever sowing their wild oats, or even truly experiencing life as independent human beings. Could this be a reason for their collectively wandering eye?
2) The majority suffer from appearance-related vanity. A definite pointer towards mutual incompatibility, as I have very little interest in fashion. As long as clothes are clean and vaguely suited to one’s body shape, then as far as I am concerned, they have served their purpose.
And yet image is the oxygen that many Italians breathe. It isn’t just the (sometimes frankly ridiculous) clothes, it’s also the fake tan, the overstated accessories and an unhealthy obsession with the gym. I would suspect that any man who spends more time in the bathroom than I do (unless of course he’s cleaning it), is going to find me as untantalizing a prospect as I find him.
3) The majority also have mothers. The Italian suocera (mother-in-law) is an utterly terrifying prospect for most Italian women, let alone us poor foreigners who are totally in ignorance of the diplomatic minefield that is familial relations in Italy.
A combination of maternal over-protectiveness and financial constraints, keep many Italian men living at home with la mamma until they marry. These mammoni (Mummy’s boys) are indoctrinated quite rightly believe that nothing can compare to amore materno, putting future spouses on an irreversible hiding to nothing before they have even chosen their bridesmaids.
Insomma (as the Italians would say), Italy can definitely boast multiple stable-fulls of impressive stallions, at least in dressage – I haven’t yet put one through his paces in other disciplines ;-). And I’m sure that there are exceptions to the stereotypes mentioned above, but for the moment I shall remain at a safe distance to avoid any risk of equine tramplement.
This is Status Viatoris, peeking out through her fingers but definitely not touching, in Italy.