Saturday, November 26, 2011


After a simply exhausting day on the beaches of Corsica, Amanda and I decided to nap, supp and explore the ship.  It was that evening (on the predominately European boat) that we stumbled upon an English-speaking hang out---the piano bar.  As we passed by, a sexy Australian voice serenaded the crowd with pub-favorites and funny jokes; jokes I could actually understand.

Happy to hear something I didn’t need Amanda to translate, I convinced her to duck in for a drink.  There were Scotts, Irishmen, Australians, Englishmen and even a few Americans---but still, no potential flings in site.  Everyone was holding someone else’s hand, or (depending on their alcohol intake) someone else’s tush.

We avoided those people.

We held onto our drinks instead and moved closer to the piano.  The pianist looked up and smiled as if to welcome us to his humble home. 

Once some of the sillier songs were out of the way, he began crooning a Sinatra classic---Fly Me to the Moon.  My ears perked up as his vocals took on an almost Jamie Cullum quality; with a confidence and rasp I hadn’t heard in his other ditties.

Side-note… Jamie Cullum ranks number two in the “men I’m allowed to leave you for” list.  When I enter into a serious relationship, my terms are clear.  If someday I meet and/or manage to intrigue Michael Buble, Jamie Cullum, George Clooney or James Morrison, pack yo’ bags, sucka! 

But, I digress…

As the set was ending, Amanda nudged me.  “Ask if you can sing one, Al!”
[Amanda and I routinely seek ways to show off our vocal prowess in public; in her opinion this was a golden opportunity.]

“Oh… no.  People are leaving and I’m sure this gentleman has other things to do.”
“So you’re a singer, aye?” the Australian musician interrupted.
“Yes” I chuckled.  “I sing jazz back in New York.”
“Are you taking the piss out of me?” he asked.
“Oh, umm… piss?  No, of course not, I don’t want your pi---”
“So what are we singing?” he laughed.

I softly performed The Nearness of You, after which he invited me for a drink.

Twenty minutes later, we were sitting in a booth at the club, conversing quite easily.  He wasn’t wonderful looking, and his club-dancing turned out to be hilariously awkward---but what he was about to say would seal the deal.

“I’ve actually met Cullum!”

This seemed so inconceivable, so incredible, so indescribable, I had to hear it again.

“Wha-wha-what now?”
“Yeah… we were signed to the same label back in the day.  He bought me a drink and told me about his upcoming covers.  He’s a goofy mate, I tell ya.”

Great voice, nicely dressed, no wedding ring AND he was now the *one* degree of separation between me and my creative idol.  Sold!  This guy was getting a kiss!

We sauntered along the windy decks, discussing music, performing and family.  Being a ship-employee, he knew all the best views.  “Ladies first.” He said as we climbed the stairs to an upper deck.  But I couldn’t wait… I wanted my kiss and I wanted it now!  I turned around to meet his gaze---er, at least I would have met his gaze if I hadn’t tripped on my heel and fallen down five steps.

“Oh shit!” he screamed.  “Are you okay?”
“Oh yeahh…. Fine.  Nobody saw that.”   
“What was that about?”
“I was turning around because, well…[what did I have to lose?] I thought you might like a kiss.”
“Oh…” he replied.  “Alex I would,” he said helping me up.  “You’re lovely, but there are cameras everywhere.  I’d get the sack if they caught me fraternizing with a guest.”
“Right… right.  That makes sense.”

--- Awkward silence---

“Well… I’d better turn in.” I said, limping away.
“Are you sure you don’t want…”
“I’m good!  Have a great night!”

And the saga continues...

Friday, November 25, 2011


Three coins lighter, it was time for the second part of our trip---the cruise!  Fat Fabrizio (one of our new Roman friends) graciously discounted his car service to get us to port.

“Tell [skinny] Fabrizio we love-ah him!” I thought as we said our goodbyes.  Though I was excited for our new experience, leaving Rome was a bittersweet parting. 

BUT---within a couple hours we were on the Mediterranean and I---a personal mission.  Somewhere between the magic of the Trevi fountain and my first breath of salty air, I vowed to get me a sweet vacation kiss before this trip was out.

Now, I don’t care who you are or which direction your moral compass points; most people crave a little fling while on vacation.  So, it’s only with slight shame that I declare I’m no exception.   The ship was filled with bars, lounges, nightclubs, and many promising opportunities to mix and mingle.  Plus we were scheduled for six stops, and we’d surely pick up a few more hotties along the way.  This is going to be a piece of cake, I thought.

Amanda and I sat at the bar reviewing pictures from our day in Genoa.  We’d been to an aquarium, eaten pounds of delicious pastry and (most importantly) purchased some FABULOUS $7 shoes.  There was only one problem---day two had almost ended, and I was still no closer to my aqua-romance.

“Amanda, seriously… where are all the men?” 

“Hmm, let’s see,” she replied.  “Were you looking for married, gay, man-whore, under age, toothless, wrinkly or just plain creepy?”

It was true.  If they weren’t already taken, most of our fellow cruisers were simply not fling material.  As I was about to throw in the towel, a strapping Italian man caught my eye.  I ran through the usual vitals---cute face, nicely dressed, no wedding ring.  Check.  This man would do.

Via Amanda, [my bi-lingual buddy] I soon learned that bachelor number one was a 24-year-old, Italian speaking man who worked in his parent’s pizzeria.  Thinking I could get by with my Eng-talian, he and I decided to take a walk for some get-to-know-each-other-and-possibly-smooch time.  

Under normal circumstances, I’m usually able to scale the language barrier with gestures and context clues, but in this case I was finding it extremely difficult.  He was shy and awkward and seemed to ignore everything I was saying.  Searching for an explanation, I spotted a forgotten vital that stood to greatly impede our progress:  He was wearing a hearing-aid.  Now it made sense---he could barely hear me, let alone understand me.  Nice Alex convinced me that this could NOT be a deal-breaker; it’d be cruel to exclude a man just because of something like that.  Suddenly, bachelor number one stopped me on the deck, looked me in the eye and brokenly solicited one request: 

“I no.. umm… mm, love wo-man… ever.  Umm, mm, you-ah… teach?”  He slid a condom out of his pocket and looked at me with hope in his inexperienced, virginal eyes.

“Voglio restare come amici.”  Write that one down girls… it means “let’s just be friends.”

Saturday, November 5, 2011


The most profoundly magical evening in Rome was spent at the Trevi Fountain.

Built in 1629, this fountain is a crowning achievement of Roman art and ambition.  But the popularity of this titanic Italian icon is fueled not just by it's size or architecture, but rather its legend.     

To throw one coin into the fountain will guarantee your return to Rome.  

If it's a new romance you seek, you must part with two coins.  

But, for those pining for marriage (or sometimes, more appropriately, divorce) you must buy your wish by tossing three coins into the mystical water.

So, how many coins would I throw?  One coin was a no-brainer---who wouldn't want to come back to Rome?  And a new romance---that's easy too.  I was on vacation; everyone wants a little romance on vacation.  But marriage?  With my track record (as you've followed with excruciating detail), a happy marriage sometimes felt like an impossible, unreachable pipe-dream---one I wasn't eve sure I wanted to try for.

So, did I want to admit that marriage was on my to-do list?  

I looked around, took a deep breath, and tossed three coins into the water.

I blame the vino.