Love the Marcello stories.
|I can see regret in Marcello's eyes. Regret for one love that could have been but was not.
After sipping his Bellini Marcello is ready to tell me his story, a story that sounds as a confession.
"Jordan. I had to let go of her. I had to let go of the woman that, for a perennial moment, invited me to question my lifestyle."
Marcello's disappointment must be significant. He speaks like a drunken poet.
"She's almost perfect. She's 25 years-old, refreshing, free-spirited. She loves indie films. She is hot."
Jordan was Marcello's first conquest on the internet. They met on myspace. Jordan requested him as a friend, and he accepted her two days later. "Her pictures impressed me as much as her own description. She claimed to read books by Paul Auster, Don De Lillo and Barbara Kingsolver, plus the whole Harry Potter's series". They exchanged messages for a week or so before agreeing on a date.
"The date took place at the Fernbank Museum on a Friday Martini night," says Marcello. She was glowing in her metallic lace cocktail dress. "Jordan captured my sense of esthetics right away."
Fascinated with his Italian accent, Jordan grilled Marcello with questions about Italy and the Mediterranean Sea. Jordan said that she had been to Venice and Rome, and that she found herself reduced to openmouthed wonder when she saw the Vatican, so much so that she was seriously considering converting to Catholicism. This task, however, had to be postponed. "It is hard to be the personal trainer to the wealthiest yuppies in town," she said, something that took up much of her time leaving little, if any, room for self-exploration.
Marcello realized that it wouldn't take much to seduce her. "This happened right after she heard about my preferences as a cook. I seized her heart when I told her about my insalata Caprese. Actually, I guess she fell for the way I pronounced the words rather than for the recipe, which, by the way, is gloriously simple –tomatoes and mozzarella with olive oil and basil."
I read somewhere that the mozzarella should come from buffalo milk, not bison's, if possible. To which Marcello nods yes.
That night they ended up being part of the few who danced the night away at the Fernbank, clasping each other's hands. Jordan brazenly challenged Marcello to meet for dinner on the following evening. Marcello accepted, thus breaking a Don Juan's cardinal rules –never go on a date with a woman the day after you met her. Never make the first date occur on a weekend. Never take a woman for dinner at the initial stages of the dating process.
It was inevitable that they would have a romantic dinner here at the bistro. "We sat at the table that's right over there," says Marcello, pointing his finger at one of the corners of the saloon. A nouveau riche and his bored wife are sitting at that table now. "Jordan ordered a calico couscous salad and ate just half of it."
Marcello describes the evening as filled with flirtation and kino, revelations and hopes. Revelations –Jordan declared that she'd been engaged up until recently to a man that had poisoned her life. This man was emotionally abusive and cold-hearted. "A cold-hearted snake," she said, which reminded Marcello of an old Paula Abdul's song. Hopes –Jordan explained how much better she felt now that she'd been single for a while for she was very certain that, if she fell in love again, she wouldn't make the same mistakes. "My heart has healed and I am going to hang on to my dreams," she proclaimed.
It was inevitable that they would wound up at Marcello's around midnight. Jordan proved Marcello why she was considered among the best personal trainers in town. Jordan's cardio skills granted her the ability to run a sex marathon. As lovers they were a good match. "Endurance was her game. The Art of Lovemaking is mine," says Marcello, a man who knows how to tend to a woman's body and mind, a man who still can, at his age, perform without Viagra coming to his aid. (At least that's what he tells me.)
"Boris, this was so fucking intense, no pun intended, that we ended up nearly killed by exhaustion around three-thirty in the morning," says Marcello, a second glass of Bellini in his hand. "I conked out and, as far as I was concerned, so did Jordan."
Moments later Marcello was awakened by the sound of bottles clanging. Reeling from the shock, Marcello flipped the light on and strode downstairs to the kitchen.
"There she was, rifling through my refrigerator." Marcello asked if she was okay. Jordan mumbled that she was starving. "It's fucking four in the morning," Marcello said. Jordan just passed off the comment.
Marcello says that the scene felt so outlandish that he managed to grab his camera and snap a shot of Jordan as she kept ransacking his fridge, until she found a frozen food box containing tilapia with Hollandaise sauce, rice pilaf and green beans almondine. She ripped it open, tossed the box in the kitchen sink, used her fingernail to cut the wrap film, put the tray in the microwave, slammed it shut, and turned the heat on.
"She stood akimbo, her back facing me. She was staring at the microwave while flexing her feet, like she was trying to ease some pain. She said nothing. I said nothing. I just contemplated the smooth curves of her silky thighs, her pelvis punctuated by the soft cotton of her navy blue thong. A delicious frame topped off with those sweet, little blue-striped socks. That sight of her gazing into the microwave will never leave me. I just wanted to make love to her right there in my kitchen, but I had to hold myself back because she was devouring the food. I asked her if she was okay, and she said that she was sorry."
"Jordan said nothing else. She gulped off the dish like she was the next on death row. I must admit that watching her eat voraciously was a little bit of a turn off."
It is a turn off.
With a soft smile, Marcello invited her back to bed. She was anxious. She turned and tossed in bed. Marcello hugged her in an attempt to calm her down. Marcello believed that she'd fall asleep eventually, but it was him who did. As he was sinking into sleep he was again awakened. The bedroom lights were stunning him. "What the fuck." He saw Jordan coming out of the walking closet. She had on Marcello's sweat pants and shirt, and she was barefoot.
"I must go out to exercise," she said. "I've got to burn out the calories I just ate."
Marcello was shocked. "But, it's five in the morning."
"I don't care. I will be back in an hour or so." She went down, opened the door, trotted down the hallway to the elevator, and exited the building. Marcello was left looking down to the floor, baffled, until the sleep overtook him one more time.
It was almost seven in the morning when Marcello was awaken by something that felt like a drill piercing his hypothalamus. It was the buzz from the intercom. "What the fuck."
The surveillance camera displayed Jordan's oblong face. "Will you let me in?" Marcello buzzed her in. Three or four minutes later, she walked in the bedroom, took the clothes off and dove in the bed. Jordan fell asleep right away. Marcello checked the time. No way was he going back to sleep.
"I dragged my feet down to the kitchen, made café au lait, and read the headlines from The New York Times. Then I took a shower."
That Sunday morning Marcello had scheduled a creative working brunch with his colleagues at the bistro. He had to call them to cancel, a family emergency as the only explanation given, even though the people who work with and know Marcello know he has no family in the United States, but Marcello couldn't think of a better excuse on such short notice.
"I was quite disturbed by this situation that, in order to cool off, I decided to go over old scripts I have in my laptop."
Marcello says that, were it not be for this situation, he'd have never checked those old files where he found an idea for a tragicomic story, an idea he had forgotten altogether. It was about this environmentalist who's stung by a scorpion as he's hugging a tree during a protest in South America. Hours later, the environmentalist dies of a heart attack caused by the fright of the experience.
"It's a good idea for a comedy, isn't it?"
Marcello was attempting a creative escape from reality when his cell phone rang the Miami Vice tone. It was Jorge, his Spanish friend who works as a news producer for CNN. Jorge sounded frantic. His wife just had beaten him, his head and face badly bruised. It was not the first time it happened.
"Jorge, I think you must come to terms with the fact that you are a battered man and need help," Marcello said.
"Is it that bad?" Jorge asked. "I mean, do you really think I need professional help? I mean, am I in deep shit?"
"Yes, you are."
"Jesuschrist Marcello! I just wanted to talk to you. You are my friend. I figured that if you asked Wanda to have a conversation with you about this, you know, like it's a casual approach on your part, once she accepts meeting with you, you could bring up the subject. . ."
"Wanda's tendency to domestic violence."
"No way will I do that," said Marcello. "Jorge, you and your wife need help."
"I don't know how to broach the subject with her, Marcello! I don't want to upset her."
"Why don't you just dump her? You are a good guy with a fine job. You'll be able to get back on your feet soon."
"Marcello, I can't do that to Wanda. I can't. I . . ."
"Jorge, I am sorry but I have to go now. I'll call you back later."
After flipping his cell phone shut Marcello realized that Jorge's situation could be the basis for a story about battered men. He wondered if someone had ever taken this kind of story to the TV screen.
As Marcello was finally focusing on what he loved the most, storytelling, Jordan walked in the studio, startling him. Marcello smiled, not many options left at that point. She had her look nailed to the hardwood floor, the pearly glow of her being that had once enchanted Marcello was gone. Her doll feet flexing up and down, up and down, up and down, like she's trying to pull herself together before jumping off a 35-foot high springboard into the abyss.
"If we want our relationship to keep growing there's something I must tell you." It sounded as a preamble to rules Marcello was very familiar with but unwilling to abide by. After a solid silence from Marcello, Jordan continued. "I am afraid I have been in denial until now about a problem I have."
That's not what Marcello was expecting to hear.
"I've come to the conclusion that I suffer a rare form of eating disorder. I know because I did some research shortly before we met," Jordan explained.
Marcello embraces silence one more time. I wonder, is it bulimia?
"No," Jordan said. "It's called night eating disorder. I just wake up in the middle of the night and go to the kitchen for food. During the day I eat little, if anything. I've been skipping breakfast for nearly two months now, going on snacks and the occasional salad."
How did she know she had that condition? I ask Marcello.
"Because I knew something wrong was going on when I found that I am unable to sleep without food," she said. "Even if I eat before going to bed, I wake up in the middle of the night starving for food. I feel a sharp pain in my abdominal, and I became aware that food is the quick fix in relieving the pain. Besides, I consulted with a girlfriend of mine. She's the secretary to a physician in Buckhead. She told me that she's seen several cases like mine at her office."
"Maybe you just are under much stress," Marcello suggested. "Maybe you happen to be more sensitive to perception of life."
"I also did some research," she insisted. "I meet all the symptoms, Marcello."
"Why are you telling me this?"
Jordan walked up to him, she no longer could contain the tears. Jordan sobbed as she held Marcello close. "Because I have strong feelings for you. This morning, as I was exercising, I realized that I am sick. If what we are experiencing now is the beginning of a relationship. . ."
Did she actually say "relationship"?
". . . I must come to grips with my condition because I want us to be full of potential. Does it make sense?"
Marcello, his sense of compassion sharp and ready, held Jordan tightly. The void in Jordan's life had given way to despair. It was a poignant scene. He gave permission to himself to shed a few tears.
Marcello, back to the years in Rome, when he was seeing his beloved psychoanalyst, dottora Silvia Lazzaro, and learned so much about the many streets and boulevards that the unconscious can take, was able to tell that Jordan was groping for self-meaning, thus devouring whatever came across, even a man whom she hardly knew –himself.
"Does it make sense?" she asked again.
"Amore mio, let's not talk about it now. I say, I will drive you home so you can get some rest and we'll discuss this subject later." It was not a suggestion. It was the right thing to do.
Marcello held Jordan's hand all the way down to the underground garage, opened the car door for her, and drove her to her place in East Atlanta, giving her a compassionate smile every now and then.
Marcello called her on Monday night from the bistro. He was sitting at the bar having a lemoncello. Marcello told her the truth. He felt that he could no longer keep seeing her as a lover, "Because the chemistry is not there."
She pressed him to admit that what he was saying was a cop-out, that he was afraid of commitment, and that he ultimately just had wanted to have sex with her and dump her later.
"If that's what you want to believe, I guess I won't be able to convince you otherwise," said Marcello.
She yelled on the phone, "I shouldn't have told you about my condition. That's what scared you away, isn't it?"
"You didn't scare me, I promise."
"We had a great time. I could see in your eyes that I caused a good impression on you. Sex was great, too. Why do you say that there is no chemistry between us?"
"Jordan, I am an old dog. You need someone your age. Yes, we had a great time, but this is not what I want. I am sorry."
"You are not an old dog," Jordan said before clicking off on him. "You are a cold-hearted snake."
Marcello gulps down his Bellini and offers me a melancholic smile. "Do you ever feel how heavy fate weighs on your shoulders?"
Why did you let go of her, really?
"For the same reasons that you'd have let go of her if you were in my shoes."
Do you miss her?
I wonder if you are still friends on myspace.
"Yes, we are. We don't exchange messages often, though."
I am curious –what is it that you miss about Jordan?
"Just the scent of her made me feel young again."
I suspect that there lies the key to Marcello's experience with Jordan. Sometimes you just can't afford to feel young again.
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