Spicchio di Luna

Piccoli sogni
in abito blù...

Today is our wedding anniversary. We've been married 11 years, and have known each other for 14.
These are scary numbers, but also somehow comforting. I like the idea of continuity; I like how many shared memories and experiences we have.

Anyway, I know I get goopily romantic far more often than behooves today's modern woman, so I figured I'd take this opportunity instead to tell the (rather amusing) story of how it all began.
Of course, Dario and I disagree on some of the details, and I have occasionally been concerned about the idea of giving a one-sided version of this story here, for public consumption.
But you know what? It's my journal! If he wants to tell his story, he's welcome to do so, but I'm not going to let that stop me.

So, boys and girls, pull up your chairs and gather round, it's a long and involved tale...


When I came to Italy to study, I'd already been in Europe for 3 months. The first was spent traveling around Spain with my friend Kristen (with a brief jaunt to Paris at the end), while for July and August I worked at a chemical company in Kassel, Germany through a special work program.
My job ended before I was due in Bologna, and I was almost flat broke and had nowhere to go. My brilliant solution to this problem was to stash my considerable luggage at a friend's place and buy a month-long train pass that gave me unlimited travel options throughout Germany. The north-south axis became my hotel, and I tried to see as much of the country as I could while making it to the necessary city in time to take the overnight train to the other end.
Of course, by the time I got to Italy, I was exhausted, not to mention sick of trains.

The program that organized our stay in Bologna was run by Brown University, but there were also students from Wellesley and a few others from Vassar, although I only knew a couple of them vaguely. The program had several apartments available, and we sorted out among ourselves who would live with whom. I shared a place with Lyn and Chimène, of Thanksgiving dinner fame.


...ammiccano discreti dall'insegna d'un locale mentre tu
mi proponi discoteche inquietanti
e amici naif...

Our program didn't start until a week or so after we arrived, presumably to give us time to settle in. Truth be told, most of us were bored stiff. The first Friday, a bunch of us decided to go to a discotheque someone had noticed in the downtown area, conveniently next door to the police station.

So we got all dolled up, but once we made it to our destination, several of us balked. I'm not sure why the others didn't want to go in, but I know why I didn't: my weakened condition fromweeks of hard living in Germany, along with the polluted air created by far too many cars, none of which had catalytic converters, combined with the extended-wear soft contacts I sported at the time, had given me a massively swollen and red left eye. I had wanted to be a good sport, but a peek at Makrillo, simply dripping with mid-80s Italian chic, scared me away.
So there we were, four American girls (myself, my roommates, and large-but-nonfunctioning-oven Liz), standing in a small piazza in Bologna, deciding what to do with our evening.

I should probably mention, for the record, that Liz was (is?) a caricature of your typical loud-mouthed New Yorker. She made a lot of noise, and attracted attention wherever she went.

Enter your typical Italian smooth talker, who approached us on the pretext of wanting to practice his English. He was fairly good-looking, and very snazzily dressed in the Miami Vice style that was so popular at the time.
His English sucked, but it turned out that he had grown up in Germany. Since my Italian was still very shaky, but my German was pretty good,  we chatted for a while. He wanted us to join his group of friends, but they shot down his plans by refusing to go anywhere.
This was Francesco, more commonly known as Franz.

...io speravo in un incontro galante, cheek-to-cheek...

Unbeknownst to me, Dario was standing only a few yards away, watching with another guy, amused at his acquaintance's attempts at intorto. Later, he would tell me that he had immediately noticed me because of my smile. I don't know whether that's true, but I choose to believe it. (note: he swears up and down that this is true, and can even describe what I was wearing that night, so I guess it really is true).
The piazza was dimly lit, so he couldn't see my scary, swollen eye, thank goodness.

So, anyway, Franz couldn't get away, so Liz came up with the bright idea of giving this total stranger our address (not her address, mind you, since she lived alone). He promised he'd stop by with some of his friends the next evening.
They didn't show up, and we were torn between disappointment and relief that we weren't going to have to worry about him being a serial killer or armed rapist.
The next night, though, there was a knock at the door, and who should it be but Franz, accompanied by a friend. Dario.

Spicchio di luna, ormai
non navigo più
da molto tempo in quelle stesse acque tempestose dove tu
mi trovasti tanto male in arnese
da scappare via
no, non voglio abbandonarmi ai ricordi, tuttavia...

Fast-forward a month or so, to the beginning of October. We had begun to hang out with Franz and his group of friends, and Liz had become romantically involved with Franz's best friend, Enzo.

From my (very sporadic) paper journal at the time:

Sunday, 6 October (1985)
[stuff about being jealous of all the male attention Liz was getting]
I can't say I haven't gotten any romantic attentions, though I honestly think I'd have preferred none to what I ended up with. Let me explain.
For my birthday last week, we planned a small--very small--gathering at our place. Two nights beforehand, Enzo told Liz about some surprise they were planning ("they" referring to Enzo, Dario, Franz). She got really excited, but wouldn't tell me what it was. She did tell Lyn, who didn't get all that thrilled.
Anyway, the night of my 20th came (unbelievable!), & Karen, Mary Catherine, Michelle, Dario, Enzo & Franz all came [note: the Americans were obviously other students on our program]. We drank champagne, ate cake, and chatted pleasantly. [...]
What was the surprise? The guys were going to stay all night!
Problem number one: Franz had to work the next day (it was a holiday--San Petronio--and most people didn't need to work), so he had to go home. That left Dario, Enzo, Liz, Chimène, Lyn, & me. OK.
Problem number two: Chimène and Lyn both decided to go to bed. That left Enzo, Liz (on the couch), Dario (in a chair), me (on the floor).
Need I explain what happened? Dario got a little too friendly, I said no, and so began an hour or so of, "Dai, dai! Cosa c'è di male? Albina (!), dai!" and me "No, no--davvero, no! Perché? Perché io non voglio", etc.
He followed me into the kitchen, the bathroom, all over. Liz & Enzo didn't say a thing, which really pissed me off. Finally he went home, I talked to Liz for a while (Enzo was asleep), then went to bed. Liz & Enzo left around 8:30 the next morning.
Lovely, eh?

Tuesday, 8 October
Everyone came over; Dario wanted to talk. We talked a little, in my room (he kept trying to hold my hand, etc., & I tried to diplomatically avoid such contact). He didn't understand why I thought his actions showed no respect for me, why I was upset.
We all went out, had something to drink at an osteria, went and got bomboloni, and then came back here. Dario was really weird the whole night; he was quiet, and stared at me a lot. [...]
Well, Dario and I talked more that night, and he still didn't really understand. Last night, though, he apologized. It was a gran malinteso, etc. I told him that I really wanted to just forget about it. He said, "I don't. Mi piaci, mi piaci tanto." What do you say to that? I mean, he's nice, but...
Anyway, I said he'd never shown any interest in me before that night, and it was just too sudden. He said, "And if you'd known beforehand that I liked you?" Gulp. I tried to get around giving a direct answer to that one, but he forced me.
I said, "Well, to be quite honest, I probably would have gone to bed when Chimène and Lyn did." That didn't please him too well, but we ended on a handshake and "Amici".
Why do these sort of things happen to me?

Ne approffitto per fare
un po' di musica
tra mezz'ora domenica sarà
tra jukebox, marciapiede e varietà
spicchio di luna questa notte come va?


Not a very auspicious beginning, is it? Unfortunately, my flakiness at keeping a diary (until this one!) leaves me with no written record of how things progressed from, "Don't touch me!" to "I love you", but I do remember that Dario kept his word after our little talk, and treated me just like everyone else, as a friend.

This really irritated me.

I mean, he'd already told me he liked me. Why was he not pining after me? Why did he never gaze at me longingly? What the hell was wrong with this guy?

My pride was seriously wounded, here. I kept putting him to the test, flirting shamelessly, spending more time with him than with anyone else, trying to provoke some kind of reaction.
I didn't realize at the time that I was doing a number on myself, rather on him. By Christmas we were pretty much an item.

And fourteen years later, eleven of them married, we still are. Who ever would have imagined?


Ne approffitto per fare
un po' di musica
nell'ipotesi che mi ascolterai
tra le stelle e lampioni, non saprei
spicchio di luna questa notte dove sei?


Lyrics from Spicchio di Luna by Sergio Caputo.
If you're interested, you can listen to it here.