When I was 17, I visited Florence as part of a college trip. I avoided the sites with all the eagerness of a xenophobe, choosing instead to get lost on a regular basis down the city’s many labyrinthine walkways. (Think Don’t Look Now (1973) but without the sex). The nights I spent topping up my blood-alcohol level and basking in pure inebriated joy before pouring vomit down my jumper (courtesy of my mouth) and collapsing beside the bathroom toilet wearing nothing but underpants; me, not the toilet.
One of the bars we frequented was Spleen, a rather classy cocktail establishment where I first experienced the childish joy of asking for a drink with the word sex in it. Actually, the place wasn’t that classy; a group photo taken by my friend revealed, on closer inspection, a daring young cad proffering his organ into an unsuspecting woman’s ear. NB: Jokes regarding the cochlea are more than welcome at this point. Anyway, during my final night in Mussolini’s country, it was at this location that I was approached by a group of American girls. I had shared a drunken conversation with one of them the previous night and she had returned, friends in tow, with the specific purpose of seeing me, ignoring those around me like a Jewish application to a country club. Being quite the Yank-ophile, I felt extremely honoured to be the focus of attention for this bevy of young beauties. They were all charmed by my English eccentricity, particularly the black girl from Alabama who initially mistook my pale face for a white hood. There was an undeniable chemistry between us and had I not repeatedly called her by her slave name I’m almost positive we would have hit it off.
|An artist's impression of me back in 2003|
They invited me to tag along with them so naturally I complied. A drunken hop, skip and a trip later we arrived in an American bar where I began each conversation with the line, “Wasn’t 9/11 terrible?” By the end of the evening, having apologised to all present for the revolutionary war, I was ready to leave when the girl from the night before begged me to stay out. Now, I should probably explain that our first encounter ended with her requesting me to walk her home; an offer I rather stupidly declined. So, 24 hours later here I was being offered a second olive branch, only replace olive branch with intercourse. And what did I do? Politely excused myself and returned to my hotel to make a curfew.
So, instead of losing my virginity to an American, here I am 7 years later – still a virgin with less sexual experience than a picky monk. Still, at least I didn’t end up with a knob in my ear.
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