The Italian liked to talk the talk, and when we went places: he liked to watch me walk the walk. So he bought me shoes and fabulous dinners. At first it was exciting. Never before had I dined in the company of such a sophisticated man or had to worry which fork was what at the table. All I knew before, was ice cream parlors, pizza places and that I grew up in the not so nice part outside of the city. And I wondered, could a guy like this, ever love a girl who grew up on powdered milk?
So I did what felt best and made me forget everything else… stared at his smile, sat closely and listen intently to his sexy voice. In that moment I felt alive and his hard counterpart. He was in search of the perfect woman and Martini. I spent our dates trying to figure out when the glass slippers would shatter.
Our first date was on Christmas Day. As a single mom, I spent most holidays alone and was thrilled this one would be different. And just like Christmas morning when I was a kid, I had to sneak a peek. So I looked out my window as he arrived to pick me up. From that moment, I felt something. It just happened. Later that evening he would hold my hand as we walked from bar to bar. He said it felt natural and he was comfortable with me. He said things like he meant them. He said I was his gift for Christmas. But what did it all mean?
A couple dates later he took me to Shun Lee Palace on the East side. I think that was the name, I was more focused on him. So let’s just go with it. The Italian was always the charismatic one, in an old school kind of way. He knew everyone and he knew the unwritten formalities of securing a great table. But any table would do. Any cuisine would do. Not any man would do. He was my Italian and whatever table we sat at became the best table in the house. I used to joke that we could sit at a booth in a diner, and that would be just fine. It still would.
That evening he asked the manager about the Golden Dragons holding our tableware. He wanted to know if people took them. His inquisition took me by surprise. I had many questions pressing, but that was not one. But it was a good question. I wanted to know the answer too. The manager said yes… and indulged us with further explanation that it cost them thousands each month to replace the stolen ones. It was a very expensive setting. I would realize more than the golden Dragons were stolen that night, and dining with the Italian would cost me dearly.
At the end of that very evening, I took a moment to freshen up in the powder room. Then walked towards the front where he was waiting with my coat. Our eyes met as I walked the walked, and sparks set off like the Chinese New Year and Fourth of July together. It was the glance us girls dream of…it was my heart stolen and served on a silver platter. I was in love and I knew it.
Almost a year later, the dinners were gone. But that was okay. Sitting next to him that was the allure. What really got me, is that he was gone. No more chasing me, no more nights falling asleep in his arms, no more telling me "Good night, love." The courtship became a fairy tale and it was back to reality. The Edelman high heels did less walking and I wanted to do more talking.
A simple text telling how I felt and asking to talk, would ultimately cause the Italian to go missing in action. For months I had been looking for the courage to tell him I loved him, now I was looking for the reasons he was gone. To save face, I did what any girl with a broken heart would do. I went to my closet to put on the sexiest outfit to hit the town. All dressed up in my little black lace dress, I reached for a great pair of heels. And there they stood in my closet: the mighty leopard ones, ankle strap and all. Tears began to trickle down my face, lips quivering as my relationship was summed up in five inches.
I wanted to throw them out the window, I wanted to throw them in the Hudson. Then I thought about giving them to the homeless shelter. But what homeless women wants to walk around in heels. I thought about sending them back via Fed Ex. I thought about sending him money, so he couldn’t have the satisfaction of saying he bought me or did anything for me. But I couldn’t do anything but sit on my bed, and put them on. There would be no night on the town. There would only be a hopeless girl in love. But everything happens for a reason. And there I had it: my reason. I had learned to love. And that was something I was not throwing away or sending back. I treasured kissing him. I loved loving him. And I really loved kissing his cheek, right next to his side burns.
I decided to keep my Edelman high heels and I decided to keep my love. Even If he would never love me back. I always have the memories, I always have Manhattan and I always will have these heels. It was an Italian love affair... and as any city girl knows: it was Manhattan love.