Yesterday's post about my semester in Europe got my memory to a-jogging...
When I was in Rome that Fall (eeesh...fifteen years ago), I got separated from my friends in the Vatican Museum. I ended up wandering outside and decided to wait for them in the Piazza in front of St. Peter's Basilica. I was strapped into my walkman and trying my best to blend in.
After a few mintues of waiting, I was approached by an older man.
A much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much older man.
He rambled and rambled on and on to me in Italian before I could stop him with my best "Uh...I don't speak Italian" in Italian.
Clearly, I can't remember that phrase - I probably barely knew it then.
Anyway, as I stumbed through that sentence, the man immediately switched to speaking English.
"Oh, are you an American?"
"Oh...what are you doing in Rome?"
The man had a sweet enough face, so I decided to let the conversation unfurl. It seemed innocent enough...until he suggested that I take a walk with him.
Now, I should mention I didn't really wrap up puberty until I was 30. I still have something of a baby face - and back then, I looked...well...I looked like a fetus.
Naturally, I declined his offer...trying to contain my horrified/nauseated/what-the- hell-is-happening feelings, sensing there was a made-for-TV movie scenario heading my way like a dirty, filthy freight train.
He then asked:
"How old are you? Fourteen? Fifteen?"
His eyes widened and he said:
"Oh, I thought you were much younger than that."
With that, he then sighed and ciao-ed himself out of the conversation and walked off.
I never could tell if he was disappointed in how old I was...or if he just realized I wasn't a hooker.