Name: Eugenio Bolongaro
Profession: Professor of Italian Cinema, McGill University; Copyrighter Ogilvy Advertising; Philosopher.
Age: 40's ( I guess)
Occupation: corner stone real estate in Bianca Brandt-Rousseau's heart. Her unrequited love.
He was dashing. Soberly debonaire. He wore bow ties, tweed jackets, and wing-tips. He dramatically parted his hair to one side. Sometimes, dark wisps would step out of line, into his saucer-shaped powder blue eyes. Absentmindedly, he would sweep the strands with his hand. His long, piano perfect hand. He resembled an Italian Donald Draper. He is timeless. Ageless. Like Nature; he is perfect.
One of my most vivid and memorable dreams centered around him, me, Derrida and Chomsky, sitting at a round table, discussing Deconstructionism... How pretentious that sounds now, how hoighty and intellectually grandiose. The best part of this dream, dear friends, was the flirtation underlining it: Professor Bolongaro -I was referring to him as Eugenio in the dream, of course- was playing footsie with me, under the round table.
I attended every class he taught. I was early to arrive, sat in the front row, and would linger afterwards, just so I could hear him speak some more. His face, his accent, and his style made my knees weak, enchanting me in a lovers trance. It didn't matter that he was gay, that my feminine charms eluded him. This one-sided crush was all I dreamed about (think Tiramisu): All the joy was in consumption, nothing else came out of it but gratuitous calories, cushioning me. I just loved to love him! Gluttony: pure and simple. Bolongaro was the beginning of my Italian chapter that hasn't been written. Yet. I have rough copies, scraps written in pencil, scattered in the chaotic corridors of my mind, and echoing halls of my heart.
I loved him. He is my reason for favoring the word 'Indeed'. He used this word with grace and poignancy. A playfully placed punctuation. He too favored this word, it was obvious. When he would use it, his eyes sparkled... So- I slid 'indeed' into my day-to-day vocabulary, because every time I used it, I saw HIM saying it. And I felt timeless, stylish, Italian. How silly this all sounds now.... But it is the truth.
So began my obsession with anything and everything Italian:
Neorealist cinema became my snobby fixation; Mama Roma and Osessione. Fellini or DeSica, usually in my VCR.
Italian fashion- I later worked for Prada. Dolce no doubt!
Italian cuisine- I make a killer Eggplant Parmesan.
Italian language- I received Ital/Eng dictionaries and Italian language tapes for my birthday that year, in vain. Some of the best moments I've had alone were in the bath, shotgunning beers, repeating some Italian sentence over and over.. ah - good oldies!!
(oh my- I almost forgot- I changed my voice mail message to 'Bonjorno Tutti!' Ha! Laughable! Who the hell did I think I was?)
And lastly, an Italian lover- Too bad he was disappointing, but his name, 'Mattia' coupled with his accent- luscious and powerful- sustained me for a week or two.
Before moving to India I had an opportunity to visit Italy with a dear friend. A very dear friend. Things got complicated; financial and family matters thickened the once flowing probability. And I backed out. I was sick over it, but I backed out.
Destiny: she takes you by the hand, directing where to go. Although Italy is still a fascination, I'm not ready for her. I've traveled a lot and somehow opt not to go to her, time and time again. Had I turned this illusion into a truth, I most likely wouldn't be in India today. And that, my beloved reader, is unimaginable! So- I traded a couple weeks of limoncello, 'Ciaos' and touching things Marcello Mastrioni might have, for a year of Butter Chicken, Ohm Shantis, and Namastes ...
Italy and Eugenio: Illusionary. Untouchable. Intimacy denied.
Ah well! I still have the language tapes(somewhere in storage), the tingles and his perfect face in my mind's eye when I utter my favourite word. That is awesome.