Let’s suppose you are hungry– starving even. And you are set down in front of a buffet where there is stuffed chicken and oranges and all other manner of foods not only delicious, but also nourishing to your body.
And imagine that you choose red jello– an unrefined food with very little nutritional value, but which wiggled in a way that made you smile.
Choosing that fluff dessert, that would be like me, of all the men interested in me over the years, choosing Garrett.
How is that jello can distract us from a full meal?
I guess sometimes we are blind to what’s good for us– literally unable to see– until there is an adequate comparison laid out like a banquet before us.
And that’s how I feel, now– perhaps too late, about PSM.
“Who is PSM?,” you ask.
PSM, Potential Soul Mate’s real initials are also, conveniently, PSM. I’ve known him for years, fifteen to be exact. He’s a friend of the family. But to get there, I have to back up.
I have a huge Italian American family, which I have mentioned on more than one occasion. (Did I tell you about my 39 first cousins, mostly male, who like to give me dating “advice?”)
So, of course, in order to be “Italian American” we had to start, at one point, in Italy. My grandparents, Antonio and Anna Maria, were straight off the boat, as they say, as a young married couple. Which means, of course, that I still have cousins in Italy–a fact that has meant annual summer trips to Italy through my entire childhood. Sounds cool until you realize that I never got to hang out at the pool with my American friends or cruise the beach in a Mustang. (Isn’t what they do in all those American beach movies?)
Instead I was eating pasta with more syllables than any American kid’s name I know, and licking gelato instead of ice cream. And playing with my cousins…
which is how we get to PSM. He’s a school friend of one of my 80-million Italian cousins. (Honestly, sometimes I have a hard time remembering who’s who.)
And he was always there. Always. Goofing around Rome, trips to the zoo with my great aunt, train trips to the mountains. You name it, he might as well have been one of the cousins. And, as such, I never noticed him.
A few years ago, he and I started hanging out alone in Rome together, going to dinner, dancing, visiting tourist sites. But I never thought much of it; it was like hanging out with one of my cousins. Like I said, he was always there.
And then the whispering started. (If you have a large family, you know all about the whispering– the kind that stops when you enter the room.) And then the whispering became talking, and then the talking became actual talking to me.
“You and PSM are so cute together. Why are you not a couple?”
“So, you and PSM dancing again?” Wink Wink. “When will we have little babies?”
Years of that. So many years I tuned it out. Because honestly, the last guy on my mind, the last guy I would ever settle for in a million years was this almost-cousin, this, this… well, you know, he was just PSM.
And then there was a long list of every-wrong-guy-on-the-planet. And every-guy-who-wanted-to-treat-me-like-a-piece-of-meat. And suddenly PSM’s opening the door for me, and always being there for me, and being one of the few people in the entire universe I can stay up till dawn with talking about philosophy or music or politics or– anything, really– occurred to me. This man had never asked for anything from me, and had always been a very good friend.
For better or for worse, in that moment, suddenly I noticed that PSM is in no way a bad looking guy. He’s actually really attractive. I never noticed this before, because I simply wasn’t interested. Like I said, I always lumped him in with my cousins.
And wherever I was, ok I was in my great aunt’s kitchen, I blushed, and I turned away and busied myself with slicing a loaf of bread or saran-wrapping the panacotta (my favorite dessert) because, well, it was awkward. Do you see what I’m saying? I mean, this is PSM we’re talking about. He’s not exactly the boyfriend type. Except that now he was. And this was all very confusing.
Worse, I started to notice how PSM looked at me. And it was clear he did not see me as one of the cousins. He saw me naked. He saw me like dessert. He saw me in the kind of positions they highlight in just your run-of-the-mill Italian film.
How had I not noticed any of this before?
And so the summer wore on, and we danced, and we dined. And we kept the silence that had been between us for years. I stood closer, looked at him longer, and kept my mouth shut.
Fifteen years of friendship is a lot to shatter over fleeting feelings. I wanted to know this was real and not some flash in the pan flambé.
Or I am a chicken.
You can make the call.
But I did tell him, eventually. Yes, I did.
Wanna Sass Back?