French hostess, Dimpled Ivan, After Class Chats

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This Friday morning, I went to the Dante Alighieri language school behind Piazza Navona, for one of my once a week lessons. After dropping off the children and taking the dog for a brisk walk down the river, I gathered my things and trotted off to school. By the end of the first lesson we had learnt the basics.

Our teacher is a jumpy, shrill woman with a dark bob, string of luxurious pearls that dance on her bosom, accompanied by 24 tottering layers of acrylic paint on her face. Unsurprisingly, she got everyone stirring into conversation. The class began with quiet, embarrassed murmurs, but by the end we were all bellowing “Ciao!” and “Where do you come from?” and in Italian: “Where can I find the tram/parking space/nearest post office?” as if our lives depended on it.

        “Our teacher is a jumpy, shrill woman with a dark bob, strings of luxurious pearls that danced on her bosom, accompanied by 24 tottering layers of acrylic paint  on her face…and got everyone stirring into conversation.”

Guess what? I made more friends!

Two sexy, French ladies: Selina and Anne-Sophie: Selina works as a hostess in a posh, French restaurant where she was told off for “not showing enough leg” and where I imagine the stiff, toothless pole of luxury panther hairs, half-meerkat/half Dracula Karl Lagerfeld is invited when in Rome on vital Chanel business: and Anne-Sophie, an enigmatic hippy with a gap in her teeth, who reluctantly came to Rome to get away from “nosy, over-protective parents”.

“She was told off for “not showing enough leg” and where I imagine the stiff, toothless pole of luxury panther hairs, half-meerkat/half Dracula Karl Lagerfeld is invited when in Rome on vital Chanel business…”

There is also George from Lebanon, dazzlingly different to any friends I’ve ever had: training to be a priest and bought all our coffees and pastries as he has lots of money because “I don’t believe in materialism”. Finally there is Ivan from Ecuador: dimpled, slightly too small and soft around the edges for a perfume ad, but charming and I felt like I was on Question Time for all his inquisitiveness, (I think he likes me). His father had moved here under the guise of a diplomat working at the Roman Embassy, so he’d school and country hopped because of this profession.

“…Ivan from Ecuador: dimpled, slightly too small and soft around the edges for a perfume ad, but charming…I felt like I was on Question Time for all his inquisitiveness, (I think he likes me)”

Opposite the school entrance, there is a café constantly buzzing with perky, fashionable students and loud, multilingual greetings and high-fives. We all mainly discussed Rome, our situation and why we were here, who is single or on the pull.

Anne-Sophie and Selina are both au-pairs and are both here for a year like me. George and I had an interesting conversation over our cappuccino about boyfriends and girlfriends. He asked me whether I was single. Apparently, in his culture, a girl would only belong to one boy. The Armenian culture (I learnt) is very strict and choice is often rigidly narrow.  It was very refreshing to be with someone unconcerned by the throes of life that would ordinarily trip me up on a daily basis. All in all, I left feeling heady with glee and fulfilled at the wonderful variety of people and conversation that life can spontaneously toss at you.

“All in all, I left feeling heady with glee and fulfilled at the wonderful variety of people and conversation that life can spontaneously toss at you”

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