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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

I've Got a New Attitude

Women in Italy wear clothes beyond sexy. Form-fitting, silky tops with tiny straps… dresses that hug their breasts, their waists, their hips… skirts that flow and drift around their legs as though at any moment they might drift away in an errant breeze… flat stomachs covered in the thinnest lace at the bottom of a shirt with a neckline that not only plunges, as they say, but also shows off to perfection breasts that are inevitably perfect… and while form-fitting, the clothes are not tight, so women’s bodies actually move as they would without clothes on at all. Which is the point

And the colors. Anything goes… the more brilliant the better, to show off to the best advantage every inch of beauty. If possible, an outfit that manages to have every color represented, with every curve and dip and hollow accented, is one to be sought. Top this off with long hair and curls – not perms but big, flowing curls – and earrings that dangle, a lot, and make noise, and bracelets that sparkle in the hot Roman sun.

These women, breathtakingly gorgeous, walk through Rome every day.

Let me tell you about one I saw today. She was tall, wearing a silk or rayon, form-fitting white jumpsuit covered with small, brightly colored, intricately woven shapes… thin spaghetti straps over her shoulders, perfect tiny waist, perfect long legs, perfect butt. She had on high heels. Her hair was long and black and thick and fell down over her shoulders like a waterfall, and it was pulled up on one side with a glittering barrette. Her earrings were silver hoops that hung halfway to her smooth bare shoulders. And she was walking along the bridge of angels (of course) over the Tiber River toward the center of Rome.

Men literally stopped in their tracks to watch her go by. Comments of “Chè bella” came from every corner. Following her was a bit daunting. While I am not, in Rome, a woman who gets tons of attention, I usually get at least some. Today, no one even saw me go by.

And she might have been alone, for all the attention she paid to the people who couldn’t stop staring. I followed her for a while, watching the flow of people part to let her walk by as she moved through the crowded streets, and I marveled at the way the world seemed to mold itself to fit her presence. And she didn’t acknowledge anyone.

Wow, I thought. What an attitude. What’s that about?

I finally passed her and saw that she was just as beautiful from the front, and on her face was a tiny pout. The kind that European models seem to cultivate. The kind that does not invite conversation but indeed, instead, discourages it.

Feeling slightly intimidated but determined, I approached her and asked her if she spoke English. She shook her head and kept walking so I told her in Italian that her outfit was gorgeous. She slowed and for a split second she looked surprised, and then she smiled radiantly and thanked me. As she walked away I saw her smile again to herself, as though she had heard something she hadn’t expected. I got the impression she didn’t know how beautiful she was, or was surprised that somebody had noticed. Impossible, but it gave me pause.

I realized something. There’s an attitude going on here… but it’s not about being a bitch, or being conceited, or being superior. It’s about simply existing and being beautiful. And the women who have this attitude glow in the sun, and they don’t care who notices.

I have a theory now. While I will never be tall, or able to wear a form-fitting silk or rayon jumpsuit quite like that one, and my hair will never be black and thick like a waterfall of curls… I think I can manage the pout. I can get the walk. I can buy some new clothes.

And if I work at it, I might be able to get the attitude. I am thinking that if I do, I might be able to glow, just a little bit.

So when people wonder what I’m doing in Rome, I tell them… I’m working on my attitude. When I get it down, I’ll let you know.


Anonymous Gringo Rojo said...

So how's that attitude thing coming?

10:59 PM  
Anonymous jonathan said...

at the end of this entry i couldn't help but break out in a huge smile. i know that i am guilty sometimes of walking down the street with a confidence that blocks out the outside world. i don't think i will ever be that gorgeous model, but it's in those moments that i feel beautiful to myself regardless of what anyone else thinks.

i remember one time a young gentleman passed me on a bicycle and he said to me, "i think you dropped your smile." it caused me to think more about how other people looked at me. from that moment on i knew that people saw me, but what i hadn't known was how they saw me.

it also reminds me of a time when i was walking down the street and my phone rang. on the other line was my friend and he was laughing. he told me that he had just seen me pass by the window of the restaurant in which he was eating and his girl friend he was eating lunch with commented on how good looking the gentleman was that had just passed by...

sometimes i wonder if we just want to be noticed in our daily lives.

11:44 AM  

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