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Archive for the ‘Italy’ Category

Before I write another word, first let me say this…

Okay, so I haven’t been updating this blog lately mostly because of how the process has murdered my soul. Honestly, if Stefania and had dime for each time either of us were asked, “When are you getting married” we could’ve  just bought a damn country, moved there and gotten married.

We’d call it, “Freedonia”.

Stef and I waited almost a year to see each other (I last saw her Christmas of 2009) because we were waiting for the Visa Petition to be approved. That way I could join her on her trek to Naples for her interview with the US Consulate.

Of course the stress became too much and we caved. I couldn’t bear the idea of not seeing Stefania for a solid year, so I bought a ticket on December 3rd I hoped on a Swiss Air jet to Milan, a mere three  weeks shy of Christmas 2010. I just got back in town yesterday.

Needless to say, the trip was fantastic! This blog was to be supposed to be about that adventure, however instead let me skip waaaay ahead to one of the last things I said to Stefania as she dropped me off at the airport to return home…

“What are you crying for?  That damn letter from the Government is probably in my mail box right now. I’ll be buying another ticket in a week.”

Of course I didn’t believe that garbage. It was a little white lie, said to make yet another airport drop-off a bit more bearable.

I get to my desk today and catch up with my boss/friend, Aaron. Upon talking about the frustration of waiting for the government to tell us when we can get married, Aaron says… “Hey! I got mail.  And there’s a letter from the Government for you!”

I didn’t get too excited. With my luck, some politician I sent a effed up letter to figured out a way to get my old ass drafted.

But glory to God, Christmas has come early!!!

It was an I-797 Notice of Action: APPROVED!

YES!

Um, Santa, could ya hook a brotha up with a ticket? I have to get to Napoli, yo!


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Not only is Caravaggio the greatest painter, EVER. Not only is his work the subject of my first fiction novel (hopefully you’ll read it someday). But he was also born in the same city as Stefania…

MILANO!

So in honor of Stef, Caravaggio and a hackneyed attempt to pimp my work, here is a chapter form my book. In this chapter, the characters happen to be celebrating the work of their hero, Caravaggio… So there ya go.  Enjoy!

Chapter 03 – The Gospel of Don Vittorio Storaro


Under the cover of darkness, beneath the tall oaks of Griffith Park, a group of Cinematography Fellows at the American Film Institute dropped the sacrilegious bomb and anointed famed cinematographer Vittorio Storaro as their lord and savior. They saw him as a jealous prophet, one who didn’t tolerate any second-guessing of his belief system. So Don Vittorio gave them tangible proof that he was not to be fucked with, five masterpieces of cinematography…

“The Conformist” (1970),

“Last Tango In Paris” (1972),

“Apocalypse Now” (1979),

“Reds” (1981)

“The Last Emperor” (1987)

Simply put, if you’re ever blessed enough to finally see Vittorio’s light, you’ll get the spirit and jump around the Los Feliz campus like Aunt Esther in an Alabama Baptist church. It’s that moment where you evolve from being a mere photographer and you become a painter of light.

Born technician.

Born again artist.

For us, colors are not just various wavelengths of the visible light spectrum. Colors are mystical ingredients that when mixed right become a potion of seduction and enslavement. Storaro is the key. He’s Merlin, Moses and the Rosetta Stone all wrapped up into one.

The Bourgeois Pig coffee bar is the Church of the Cult of Light. It’s a cathedral full of Goodwill couches, pool tables and pretentiousness. We Fellows make camp in the Moroccan room, which looks like something out of 1001 Arabian Nights, with its long curtains, hung to make you feel like you’re chillin’ in a tent, pitched deep in the North African Desert. It’s our chapel and it’s decorated with the portraits of the artists we worship, the saints of our craft.

I know,  I know… There’s some fucked up idolatry goin’ on up in here.  Right? The Hollywood branch of the Church of Scientology is across the street. They won’t bring their children over here anymore. How messed up is that?

I share a table with Pan and this Directing Fellow from New York named Skylar, who came out of the documentary scene. The two entertain me as I listen to them babble on about bullshit.

“…Really? Your favorite sport is Little League Baseball?” asks an astonished Skylar.

“No. Just the Little League World Series,” says Pan.

“Why?”

“I like seeing ‘em cry.”

“What?” asks Skylar in disbelief.

“A couple of years ago, with the entire world watching, a ten year old Japanese pitcher got lit up by a walk-off home run in extra innings and lost the game. As the American player rounds the bases with complete unadulterated glee, the pitcher just crumples to the mound, man. He just collapses to the ground in a wet quivering mass of inconsolable grief,” says Pan blissfully.

“And you find this entertaining?” Sky asks.

“I laughed my fool head off. I watch it on YouTube at least once a week, the entire stadium on its feet cheering this kid’s humiliation…”

Pan fades off in reverie, no doubt re-living the incident within his bald head, as he stares down into his blue cream soda.

“You’re a sick fuck, you know that, Pan?” says Skylar. “They weren’t cheering the loss. They were cheering the walk-off home run.”

“Not if you squint while you’re lookin’ at it.”

We’re interrupted by a few of the Fellows as they suddenly drag a dinner table into the center of the room, dressed with a plate, flatware and a fat bottle of Chianti. They exit and then a shady looking character appears at the entrance of the room. Wearing knee length black boots and a cape, he swaggers into the room, tugging at his fake beard with his left hand, fondling the handle of the sword with the other. The guy looks like he’s perpetually piss

ed. As a matter of fact, he looks very much like one of the portraits hanging on the wall.

“CARAVAGGIO!” the room cheers.

“Shut up!” he bellows back at us. ”And you!” he screams at a Fellow playing a waiter. “Bring me a plate of Artichoke Hearts!”

“Si, Signore. Fried or sautéed?”

Today is September 29th, the day Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio was born. It’s one of the most important days in the Fellow’s calendar year. It’s sacred.

If Vittorio is our savior then Caravaggio would be our father in heaven. The alpha and the omega. He is the goddamn man. We adore this Baroque asshole of a painter who created a style of painting known as Chiaroscuro, a dramatic technique where the artist seems to carve his subjects out of blackness with a single light source. A technique we Fellows are desperate to master, student loan debt be damned; and we observe the day of his birthday by recreating one of the several incidents on his long arrest sheet, known as…

The Artichoke Incident.

The waiter re-appears with a plate full of food.

“Your artichokes, Signore.”

“Wait.” Caravaggio says before the waiter can leave. “Which are fried and which are sautéed?”

“I don’t know. Why don’t you smell them with your big nose and find out?” says the waiter.

“WHAT?” says Caravaggio as he leaps out of his chair and smashes the plate of hot Artichokes into the waiter’s mug.

The waiter collapses to the ground, claws at his face and shrieks in pain as if he was punched in the face with a bag of indignant bees.

Horrible acting job. …Just fucking horrible.

As Caravaggio regally settles back into his seat, the Fellows begin to sing his praise.

“For he’s a jolly good fellow! For he’s a jolly good fellow! For he’s jolly good felloooow! Which nobody can deny!”

A couple fools in cheap Roman soldier costumes march into the room and promptly arrest Caravaggio causing the Fellows to whistle and boo in protest.

Victor stands on a chair and begs for quiet.

As he begins to speak, plastic cups filled to the brim with the cheap Chianti are passed around the room.

“It was Vittorio Storaro who introduced us to this artistic god, this crazed Italian painter who was cinematic centuries before cinema existed. If you like films like The Godfather or Blade Runner you have to like Caravaggio because it all began with him. He is Noir. To say he was ahead of his time is an understatement. He bitch slapped time and left it bleeding in a dark alley of Rome.”

The Fellows cheer in revelry!

“Tonight, we celebrate our god, Caravaggio! Salute!”

“SALUTE!” responds the entire room, raising their plastic cups into the air.

We drink.

We sit.

We chat like none of this silly bullshit every happened.

My line of sight clears as everybody settles back into the comfy couches. I spot Dani Gruber. I wonder when her sexy little ass arrived on the scene?

Sky noticed her, too. “Stop your grinning and drop your linen, the dreamiest dame on campus has arrived,” Skylar says as he nods towards Dani, her long black hair cascading towards her perfect tits.

“Eh, if you like that type,” Pan says as he takes a sip of his Blue Cream soda.

“You’re such a beach bum, man,” says Skylar. He turns towards me to explain. “Pan can’t dig on girls east of the Pacific Coast Highway.”

“Goddamn right. Blonde hair and beach volleyball abs.”

“A nice Aryan girl to take home to mother,” mocks Skylar. “You have the same taste in women as Joseph Goebbels. How’s that make you feel? In fact, with a name like Gruber she’s probably perfect for you.”

“Screw you, Sky. Besides, that girl is all Italian.”

This grabs my attention. “How do you know?” I ask.

“We made small talk at the bar,” says Pan.

“And how did that work out for you?” I ask.

“Shot me down like a Kennedy.”

“Jason. Don’t you parli the eye-talian?” asks Skylar.

“A little…”

END – CHAPTER 03

Happy Birthday, Merisi… You insane son of a bitch.


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There are very few pieces of modern technology I love as much as I love my laptop, especially when powered by SKYPE! Let’s just say that my passion for Skype is equal to, if not greater than, my unadulterated loathing of a certain vile cell phone carrier.

AT&T is a minion of Satan. It’s crappy service makes for all kinds of malicious mischief, especially for a guy who is desperately trying to navigate a long distance relationship, and already fighting against an nine-hour time difference. There are times when I think I’m paying AT&T for the privilege of making my life hell (see link below regarding AT&T’s attempt to break up my engagement).

On the other hand, Skype is my communications savior. Skype is the reason I can maintain said long distant relationship and not have to sell my organs to pay m’ mobile bill. It not only keeps me in voice communication with Stefania, but I also enjoy the perk of seeing her smile, too. And it cost nothing. It’s gratis. On the house. It’s Free.

FREE! [insert maniacal laugh here]

But of course we all know that nothing in life is really free. Right? Every once in a while, Stef and I have to pay back the Skype god (lower case “g”) for granting us hours upon hours of divine gratis video & voice communication. During this atonement period, Skype transforms into a tool of suffering, as Stefania and I are forced to talk about the trials and tribulations of the K1 Visa Paperwork.

In the current round of the Fiancé Visa process, Stef was bombarded with mounds of paperwork…

I had one page to her dozen.  Not only had she been busting her butt all week combing through it, but last weekend she sacrificed a precious Sunday night to go over it with me.

In turn, I missed watching my Browns play the first game of the NFL season. Okay, so NOT watching the Browns blow a 14-3 lead against the Tampa Bay isn’t much of a sacrifice. In fact, I think I might owe the good people at the USCI a steak dinner for helping me miss that fiasco. But I digress…

This past Saturday was one of those days of communications compensation. I woke up that morning conflicted. On one hand, I was going to speak to my fiancé. The night before my Stef Skype time, I jonze the way seven year old Greg jonzed the night before Christmas.  Skype time with Stef is the best part of my week, easy. However I knew this upcoming call was going to be different. It was going to be less laughs and “I miss you’s” but more “turn to form DS-230 space 7…” This video call was gonna be all about business and government paperwork. Fortunately, her first question was an easy one, a softball pitch, an easy warm up fight before the championship match. Right?

Stefania: “So on the previous paperwork we sent into the Government, I wrote ‘Milan’ on the forms, but I read on the internet that I was supposed to write, ‘Milano’!”

Greg: “No biggie,” I’m say. “Just write ‘Milano’ on these forms and move on. The immigration folks will figure it out. Next!”


Before I explain on to how that “Next” grenade blew up in my face, it’s important that I explain one thing where Stefania and I are worlds apart.

When it comes to paperwork, Stef is meticulous and exacting. She doesn’t waste time and she attacks any and all forms with a vengeance. She is surgical and a perfectionist. To Stef, the question of whether to type “Milan” or “Milano” was of vital importance. She understood that this question could be one of those seemingly insignificant details that could create an anomaly, a glitch, within the computer system of a bureaucracy that holds our future in its hands. It must be correct. She’s right.

Me? I’m a procrastinating slob. If it were up to me, I’d just scribble one of the two choices in the space and be done with it so we can flirt over the webcam like goofy teenagers.

“What color underwear are you wearing?”

She ignores this boorish question and continues to the matter at hand. The next thing I know, we’ve spent a good hour on “Milan” vs. “Milano”.

By the way… What’s up with white men messing around with other countries’ names?  Why can’t they ever “discover” a foreign country or city and accept the name the locals give them?

Western Man: “My word, old chap. Your landscape is simply bully? What do you call your home?”

Citizen of Nippon: “We call our country ‘Nippon’!”

Western Man:“Nippon? Harrumph!  I don’t care for that name. How about we call you… ‘Japan’!”

Citizen of Nippon:“ Excuse me?”

Western Man: “Bully! ‘Japan’ it is!  And would you mind bangin’ this bronze oriental gong every time I say word JAPAN? Bully! Good day to you, sir.”

Citizen of Nippon: “But-“

Western Man: I SAID GOOD DAY!”


So anyway, after about an hour I just about had it and I finally explode and I begin yelling like an idiot.

“Do you think we’re the first people to apply for a marriage visa from Milan?! The immigration officer has seen it all! Rome! Roma! Florence! Firenze!  Naples! Napoli! We’re not really throwin’ anything new at these people, Stefi!” I scream.

So… Stef has this habit of smiling when I start yelling. At first it makes me feel kinda good (Cool! This ain’t so serious anymore), but then I begin to feel incredibly weak. It’s the kind of smile Muhammad Ali in his prime would’ve given me if I had punched him in his stomach. It’s a smile that says…

“Cute pudgy man, are you yelling at me? Oh, yes you are! Oh, yes you are! Aren’t you cute trying to be such a big man? Who’s my big man? Who is my big man?! Are you my big man?! Mio Dio! You’re so cute!”

Like bullets off a Kryptonian’s chest. Right? My rant was nothing more than comedy relief.

“Well let me give you something to REALLY stress about!” I continue. “I have to submit Pay Stubs and my most recent Tax Return. Yeah! They want to see if I make enough money to support us if you can’t find a job, and you’re gonna stress over the letter ‘O’! They could deny our application because I don’t make enough money! “

Stef’s reply? “Boh. You have worries, I have mine.”

I’m rolling on the floor

Her stress on the letter “O”, Milan or Milano, that’s a healthy hour of serious discussion. However my stress concerning salary and the IRS? … “Boh.”

By this point I’m laughing to keep from crying. Stef is laughing at me laughing. All is right with the word again. So lessons learned on that day? Hell if I know. I still don’t know what the hell went down. And if I ask guys who have been married for decades to explain it to me? They all give me the same answer.

“Welcome to my world.”

And what a wonderful world it is. You say Milan, I say Milano. You say tomato…

And that’s, as I like to say, the gist of it. Bully.

****

AT&T… You’re killing me.

****

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Back in the day, during a brief window of insanity, Richard Pryor was given his own prime time TV show on NBC, opposite Happy Days. It was short lived, lasting only four episodes…

Folks back in 1977 weren’t ready for Richard on prime time and judging by the current climate I’m not so sure we’d be ready for him now.

I wasn’t allowed to watch it. Not because of its racy content, but because I was being punished for all manner of hell raising. For the four brief episodes of the show’s existence I was imprisoned within my room, forced to listen to the laughter of my family, wafting up through my floorboards.

Eventually I caught the show courtesy of pop’s VHS deck. My favorite skit was “The Reverend James L. White”. Pryor played a ostentatious TV preacher trying to raise money for his church, volunteers manning the phone bank behind him, which was all dead quiet. The show wasn’t bringing in a cent.

The good reverend then slyly notes that problem has to do with the fact that most of his donations come from minorities from all around the word, and even though there are a lot of them, they didn’t have as much money as ONE rich white person. It was at this point that he declared that the night’s donations were solely for the B.T.A.M…

“The Back To Africa Movement.”

The phone bank fucking explodes.

Donations from white people all around the country pour in as if he just announced a cure for short dick. It was classic. I rolled.

Thinking about this skit reminds me of the current Tea Party Movement and how there is just as much anger and fear in the white community today as there was back in the 70’s. In fact, the atmosphere is arguably worse since there’s an “African” in the White House. This uppity negro President who invades Tea Party member’s living rooms every night, accompanied by commentary which details his nefarious socialist plan of taking guns out of their hands, murdering grandmothers with death panels and IRS and Census agents bursting down their doors to steal their coffee cans full of rainy day dough.

I could get depressed about this nonsense, but frankly I’d rather cash in on it!

That’s right, Uncle Jerry! I’m buying in, yo!

By the way, Swamp Dogg is my Uncle, not by blood, but my pop grew up with him back in the day back in Norfolk, VA. Dude is as cool as the other side of the pillow. Seriously, look at the damn album cover. Did you look at it?  Damn right.

But I digress…

Here’s the deal, I’m sure Stef would love to stay in Italy close to her family. And I wouldn’t mind spending some time there and picking up the language. Okay, it’s not all the way to Africa, but you could spit from Italy and hit Tunisia. Throw a rock and ya hit Tripoli. So I figure I’d be meeting the Tea Partiers more than half way. Hell! It’s almost 99% all the way there!

So I’ve linked this blog onto some Tea Party and White Power sites. If you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna speak to them for a second…

[ahem]

Hey you surly bastards!

I’m going to let you in on a little secret… Glenn Beck is right. This election of Obama was a Socialist / Nazi / Communist / Pacifist / Wig Party / NAMBLA / AFC West conspiracy to take over the United States of American. You got us. Seriously, can’t get anything past you guys.

I admire your fight, but can I make a suggestion?

Spending all that dough on Mid-Term elections… Tsk. Tsk. To what end? To merely regain power within the House? Come on! That’s just a band-aid solution. Wouldn’t it better to just get rid of Obama and his Obamaphiles all-together? My suggestion? Your money is better spent shipping all us black progressive liberals away to a place that actually embraces our silly beliefs, like affordable health care.

Ship all us bourgie negroes back across the Atlantic.

I propose you start by floating a test balloon and see where the wind takes it, using me as a guinea pig, of course. Take that money you’d waste on all those goddamn Lipton tea bags, danglin’ from your hats like old man balls, and instead buy me a one way ticket to Italy. Stef and I would also require a posh living allowance for, say, two years.

I know, I know, that seems extravagant, but what you’re buying is propaganda gold!

Show the American Black Bourgeois set video of me sipping espresso in my spacious apartment off the banks of the Navigli river and watch all of those HBCU graduatin’, sushi eatin’, well speakin’, uppity negroes move the hell out of Baldwin Hills and hit the slow boat (Carnival) to shores of the Old Worlde.

I’ll go on Fox News and wax poetic about how grateful I am to the Tea Party for funding my move out of the country. Glenn and I will cry together, split screen, over a satellite feed.

“Thank you, Mr. Beck. Thank you Tea Party.”


Before you know it the USA will begin to look like 50’s television, except for the Mexicans. However with the black voting block gone I’m sure you’ll have that problem licked before ya can say Jan Brewer. Errrrrrrrrrr! I mean Jack Robinson.

So to the Tea Party, the NRA, and all the wonderful followers of Rand Paul, let’s work together to gentrify this once great country. Below is a Pay Pal link to help fund my move to Europe. Spend your money to help make America for Americans… Again.

Click early and Click often, folks.

Click Here And Donate If You’re A Racist Jerk!


I miss the 70’s.  And that’s, as I like to say, the gist of it.

Richard’s Awesome Reverend Skit On Youtube.

Swamp Dogg’s Awesome Music On Youtube

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Well, Stef has finished HER K1 visa paperwork and has sent it to me via FedEx! Me? Woefully behind. In school, she was the gal who finished her assignments ahead of time, so she had time review and relax. I was the jerk waiting for my report to print with two minutes to get to class, having stayed up all night writing the damn thing from scratch.

Italian lesson of the day…

Lei è brava! (she is good!)

Per contro io sono un cretino. (On the other hand, I am a dick.)

I gotta step my game up. Nice job, Stef!

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The distance between Milan and Los Angeles is 6032 miles (that’s 9708 in Kilometers). Stef and I only get to see each other every 4 months or so, if we’re lucky. Given the fact that couples living under the same roof worry about drifting apart, it’s safe to say that we work hard to keep it together.

Communication is key, so devices like my smart phone and laptop (utilizing skype) are like gold, as is my provider. And what provider do I relying on to help keep me in touch with my fiancé? In which company’s hands do I place the health of my long distance relationship?

Bastards.

AT&T stands for American Telephone & Telegraph, and you can bet your bottom dollar that they’ll never add a “C” to their acronym because their cell phone service sucks balls. I can’t even get reception in my office building, which is in the middle of Los Angeles! I could understand not having reception if i worked for, say, UNICEF.

Yeah. If I’m in the middle somebody’s desert, handing out Antiretroviral drugs to an indigenous starving tribe, yes, I can understand needing a damn satellite phone. But I don’t! I work next to a Mall that contains a Fuddruckers.

FUDDRUCKERS!

~

Last Saturday morning, I apparently missed a bunch of Stef’s calls. I say “apparently” because I my phone registered no missed calls or voice mails.  The only reason I knew of the missed calls was because Stef sent me a text…

“I tried to call you, but you must be busy. I’m going to bed.”

Of course I called her straight away because it seemed as though the text had just been sent. It’s almost midnight in Italy, but no way she’s asleep because she just texted me. Right?  So, I call. I get her voice mail. I leave a message. I shoot her a text [“call me!”] and I wait.

Nothing.

So now I’m a bit concerned. I wasn’t sure how to read into her text. It could’ve been a “guilt trip” text. Right?  My imagination goes stupid and I now have it in my head that she’s pissed at me. So I shoot off another text where I apologize… Again.

Nothing. No response.

So after 30 minutes I’m wondering, WTF?  At that moment my iPhone buzzes to life. I read the following seemingly cold  text…

“Sorry I missed your call.”

That’s it?  …What the hell was that?  She’s still awake?! Why didn’t she just me call back? What does she mean by “call”, singular? I sent texts, too!  Is she messing with my head?

So now I’M pissed!

It’s obviously to me that she’s trying to teach me a lesson. She wants me to see how it feels to have calls ignored. Well, I wasn’t gonna play her game! So I threw caution to the wind and I lit into her with a text.

“HEY!  I missed your calls by accident!  But you’re doing this crap on purpose and I’m not in the mood for this shit! Call me whenever you want. I don’t care anymore. I’m done.”

Of course after getting that text she calls me right back. And whoooo baby! The gal calls me back loaded for bear!

“Hey, man!  What’s with this bullshit text you sent  me?”

All hell breaks lose and we argue like idiots. But the cool thing about us is that we both realize that life is waaaay too short for this kind of nonsense, so we end the fight relatively quickly. Without either of us really understanding what the hell just happened, the issue is squashed.

~

Nine hours later…

I’m in bed, half asleep, when and all of a sudden my iPhone buzzes to life, my text alarm BLARING six times in a row in rapid succession, way too fast for a human to type and send.

Sure enough, I pick up my phone and I discover that AT&T has just vomited up six text messages from Stefania that she had sent NINE HOURS EARLIER!

It turns out that “Sorry I missed your call” was only a partial message, AT&T was only just now sending me the complete message, which went something like this…

“Sorry I missed your call.  I’m very tired from working and I need to sleep. I tried to contact you, but you must have been very busy today. That’s okay. Thank you so much for understanding. Ti amo. Stef…

Now here’s me…

Damn. I mean… Damn.

So of course I had to call and apologize. So of course she proceeds to bust my balls.

“Yes. This is how my future husband speaks to me? Eh?  Bravo! Congratulations! You woke me up with that text! Ma…  “

Ugh…

Okay. I admit that I  allowed my imagination to run wild, but it still pisses me off to know that if I had Sprint  this wouldn’t have happened.

Hey AT&T, Seriously, I’m stupid enough on my own; and I already have the language and cultural hurdles to jump, I don’t need you jerks adding fuel to my fire. And as for you, Steve Jobs, screw your iPad and the horse you rode in on. If you don’t get rid of AT&T I’m jumpin’ on the Droid bandwagon just as quick as you can say Jack Robinson.

(sigh)

At the end of the day, I met Stef via the internet, so I can’t hate.

Technology… Can’t live with it. Can’t live without it.

And that’s, as I like to say, the gist of it.

*

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To hear the gals tell it, how a guy pops the question says a lot about his character.

Not sure I’m feelin’ that metric, however. As Neanderthal-like as men can be, very few of us are stupid enough to half-ass this event. Save for the occasional idiot who proposes at half-court of a televised Houston Rockets game (and is refused), I think nightmare proposal stories are pretty rare. And even if you do hear of the occasional “boring proposal”, it’s a good bet that one of these two extremes were in play…

  • Scenario One :: The guy is the local version of George Clooney. He cooly slides the ring across the breakfast table, glistening within its Tiffany presentation box. With a wink and a smile he demands, “Marry me. …You know you wanna.”
  • Scenario Two :: During a non-contact visitation at the State Women’s Correctional Facility, the guy slowly slides the engagement ring across the table towards his gal. If he actually tried to place the ring on her finger, thus touching an inmate, he’d get his fool head caved in by a nightstick.

The Clooney Proposal is bland. “Bland” in the same way the Black American Express card lacks color.  If your game is as tight as Clooney’s then you can propose over messy dishes. And if your prison-tat slathered girlfriend is currently serving time in the State Pen, you also get a pass. Congrats. I’m sure she’s quite a gal.

For the rest of you bums, turn-off the TNT Law & Order marathon and put on ya thinkin’ hats. Mine looks like this.

Even the best laid plans can be thrown into chaos, and although I think most  guys are too smart to show their true colors within their proposal plans, I do believe you can tell a lot about a couple when their proposal goes a tad FUBAR, which brings us to my proposal to Stefania.

Submitted for your approval, below please find a picture taken mere minutes after my proposal.

Notice how tired we look. Note our crazed yet ecstatic smiles. Note my limp sweat drenched polo shirt. Note how I clutch my fiancé as if I’m holding the woman for the police.

If you ever see a picture of couple who survived a tornado, my guess is that they would look something like this. Yet I had planned this proposal for months.

The Plan…

I had created a faux application for my iPhone, a guided audio tour of Milan’s, Pinacoteca Di Brera museum. We’d visit there under the guise of sketching Caravaggio’s Supper At Emmaus. After the sketching, we’d visit this incredibly romantic painting called, The Kiss, by Francesco Hayez.

It was under this painting that I would hand Stefi my iPhone, her expecting to hear a short lecture about the painting. Instead she would see and hear a Proposal Video, one that I created especially for her.

I’d pop the question. Hopefully she’d say yes. I slide the ring on her hand. Done. Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy.

The best laid plans of mice and men…

I had been in Milan for a single day, the engagement ring burning a hole in my pocket the entire time. However relief was at hand, today was the day I would pop the question! Then I could finally relax. The next day we’d head to Venice for a romantic get away and I could chill.

Stef was driving us to the museum, completely oblivious to fact that the knuckle head to her right was going to pop the question by noon. With my plan all good to go, all was right with the world.

Thus Spoke Stefania…

“Senti! I know you want to go to the museum to sketch your Caravaggio painting, but you can do that at the end of the week on Saturday. I booked a tour of Milan today. Surprise!”

And with that sweet utterance, I was fucked.

Saturday!  I was leaving Sunday morning! There was no way I was going to spend my vacation with this diamond bolder hanging over my head! I cautiously tried to get my plan back on track, but the more I pushed the issue, the more I looked like an ungrateful dick. Teetering at the  brink of a full-blown argument, I had to give in.  I slapped on a smile as my brain smoked.

Before I knew it, Stef and I were on a hop-off/hop-on bus tour, seeing the points of interest and history of Milan. It was an amazing tour and Milan is an amazing city. However, about mid-way, as I sat on the bus and gazed across the aisle, I came face-to-face with this old German tourist as he slept, snored and drooled on his seat. How the fuck did I get here? Damn it! I should be engaged by now!

When in Rome…

I took solace within the walls of the Santa Maria delle Grazie Church as we gazed upon Da Vinci’s The Last Supper. After seeing only copies of this work for most of my life, it was incredible to stand in the shadow of the original. It was at this moment that the image of Christ came alive and spoke to me.

“Dude, this is Italy. Lie, cheat or steal, just do what ya gotta do. Nobody follows the rules in this place. She’ll love ya for it!”

(Okay, this didn’t literally happen, but I did have the epiphany in front of the mural. How I interpret this is my business. Don’t piss on my belief system, man.)

Jesus Christ was right. Time to lie my ass off!

Lies &  Consequences…

“Hey, I wanted this to be a surprise, but I called in a huge favor with an exec at News Corp. He arranged for a private tour of the Pinacoteca for us. The guide had been waiting for us all day. I spoke to him and he was incredibly cool, but I think we should at least stop by and say hello.”

Yep. I had just lied, guilted and blamed my girlfriend for ruining some good Samaritans’ day and she bought it. Funny thing about karma… It can come back to bite you in the ass immediately.

Submitted for your approval, a girlfriend with a runners build and the sun.

It was about 100 degrees in Milan that day and I now had to chase a sprinting Stefania, running through the city to make up for the horrible wrong she had done.

By the time I caught up to her, me dripping in sweat, she was already buckled in the car and revving! I barely had time to close the door before she punched the gas and sped through the streets of Milan as if we had just mugged a nun.  She dodged through traffic with little concern for neither life nor limb. I was in fear for our lives. I had created a monster.

We arrived at the museum and Stefi runs up the stairs towards the ticket window as I slogged behind, certain my heart was about to explode. I purchased our tickets and asked out of breath, “Dov’è Il Bacio?” (Where’s “The Kiss?)

Please Jesus let this damn painting be in the next room. End this!

“The kiss? Oh. That’s aaaaaalllll the way at the end of the museum. It’s literally the last gallery.” The bastard actually took out a MAP and  sketched a path towards out goal as if this was an Indiana effin’ Jones movie.

Stefi snatched the map and ran. I felt like I’m on Amazing Race.

I scream after her… “We’re not in a rush!” But my lie continued to bite me in the ass.

“No. Your friend is waiting!  Come on! Hurry!”

I picture Jesus back at the mural, sitting around the table with his boys, all of them laughing their asses off at me.

We finally arrived at the very last gallery and there is “The Kiss.”

I bust out my iPhone and pretend to text our contact. I inform Stefi that he should be here in a few minutes, but we should start the audio tour without him.

I placed the earbuds in her ear and I hit play. She watches. I catch my breath.

Stefania didn’t get 10 seconds into the video before she began BAWLING. She snatched the buds out of her ear and tossed them away!

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” I asked

“I love you so much! I can do this here!” She replied.

“WHAT! Put the earbuds back in your head!”

I placed the buds back into her ears and she finished the video. She looked up to find me down on one knee with the ring in my hand. I asked her to marry me.

She bawls, louder. I couldn’t understand a word she was saying, but I’m pretty sure I detected a nod, so I went for it and put the ring on her finger before the room exploded.

Mission accomplished.

Stefi and I kissed, I stood and stretched my back as if I had just finished the 400 meter, and here we are.

So… What does are Proposal Story say about us? Hell if I know. You tell me. I’m still trying to catch my damn breath.

Thanks for reading. Goodnight and good luck.

[another out of breath black man]

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