status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage
…that they are most certainly over.
It is a very particular sort of Italian male to whom I refer. The sort with whom you are happily conversing in a perfectly friendly but innocuous manner, when you suddenly realise that chit-chat about the weather has somehow metamorphosed into highly inappropriate sexual innuendo.
Now I am not a particularly sensitive soul when it comes to these matters: a bit of cross-purposes banter can make for a chucklesome exchange when the moment is right, but even when it isn’t, unwanted male attention is usually deflected fairly easily (when a newer
toy girl is presented to them, for example – men are much like toddlers in that respect).
So why am I so offended by the very particular sort of Italian male mentioned above?
Well primarily it is because he is so far into his twilight years that I can’t make out his tail lights even with my glasses on – he could be my grandfather, and yet he is mentally stripping me.
Ick, ick and double ick.
After about six months in My Little Italian Village, I struck up what is still a strong friendship with an extended family who all live in my street. That we were great friends was no secret, which is why I was shocked into inaction when their eighty-six year old grandfather pinned me in a dark corner one evening, and had a very thorough grope of my right breast.
I pushed him away and walked off, but I found the experience a deeply shocking one – perhaps more shocking than if he had been closer to my own age.
I felt violated and I felt angry, yet I also felt strangely ashamed. Had my friendly chit-chat about the weather been construed as being a bit too friendly? Were my cultural differences causing me to give out misleading signals?
Logically I cannot imagine a culture where an eighty-six year old man is sexually attractive to a girl in her early thirties (unless, of course, he is filthy rich and she is particularly un-squeamish and greedy for the high life), but just to be sure, from that point on I kept a chillier distance when indulging in friendly chit-chat with any man of retirement age.
So my heart sank when one of the village elders tottered to the door of his cantina a few days ago and with an unmistakable sparkle in his rheumy eye, called me over. Before I could bid him good day and make my escape, my arm was grasped in his skinny old fingers and in a whisper he asked when I was going to “give it” to him.
Now if he had meant a fist right in the chops, I would have been more than happy to oblige…
This is Status Viatoris, apparently friendliness is close to sluttiness, in Italy.