I said that one day I’d get round to talking about him, and since I’ve nothing more pressing to relate, today’s the day…
Once upon a time, a very long time ago, The Italian Stallion was the main man in my life.
Although, as the name suggests, he was physically delectable – the phrase “hunktastic, muscle-bound stud muffin” would be no exaggeration – this wasn’t some passing fling based on animal attraction. No, this was the longest relationship in my dating history: we were together for almost five years.
Despite his brawny body and penchant for skin-tight t-shirts, the Italian Stallion was actually rather a quiet sort. He wasn’t exactly shy, he just had little need of others around him.
We met when I was living in Sicily – when I was teaching English, to be precise. He was my star pupil: homework always done, he never missed a lesson and was never late, despite working in his uncle’s bar 20km away and finishing his shift just 30 minutes before the start of class.
After completing the elementary course with flying colours and taking time out to do his military service, he decided to enrol for private lessons … which, after several months, became suddenly and unexpectedly more private: he took me to dinner to celebrate my birthday … and that was that.
To be honest, I never expected the relationship to last: seven years my junior, he was definitely toyboy material; I was sure his interest in me would soon wane. But the weeks turned into months, and then into years. And when I moved back to the UK – much to his mother’s consternation – he decided to come with me.
The night before our departure she took me to one side and, in a confidential tone, imparted the crucial information that I would need if I were to make a go of looking after her boy: he likes his pasta with ricotta salata, not parmesan, and too much salame will give him haemorrhoids.
Thus equipped, we made our way to the UK together, where we lived happily for a few more years. I think everyone expected us to be together forever. I’m sure I did.
And so, you might be wondering, where did it all go wrong?
Well, in some ways it would have been great to live happily ever after with The Italian Stallion: he was loyal, dependable and constant in his affections. (Since he was a red-blooded Sicilian male, I’m reluctant to apply the word ‘faithful’, although as far as I know I never had any cause for concern.)
I loved him and my family loved him, and I’m sure we could have tootled along quite happily for many years to come. And yet … and yet …
The age thing was of some concern to me: clearly, I’d be thinking babies well before he would. But that aside, the biggest difference between us was that he was always happy with what he’d got. He never really wanted anything more.
Now, you might think that this is an admirable quality, and in many ways I’m inclined to agree. But the truth is that I’m just not like that: I’m always looking forward to the next thing. New faces, new places, new experiences … it’s what I need to feel alive.
And in my quest for the new and exciting, I want to be out and about as much as possible, meeting new people, visiting new countries, trying new things.
At first, I tried to drag him along with me, until I realised that he was happy as he was. He wasn’t suffering in this new adopted country where he knew no one; he was perfectly content. He was more than happy to stay home, in his own company. And I knew that that would never be enough for me.
So, with a heavy heart, I called time on the relationship.
It wasn’t easy to break up; I still loved him. And, although in infrequent contact, we remain fond of each other to this day. Ironically, for someone who never actively looked for change, he now lives in another country. I still send Christmas cards to his family, and his mum still calls me on my birthday. For many years, I wondered if I’d done the right thing.
However, we met briefly last year and for the first time, I felt no pangs of regret. Because although affection can stay rooted in the past, real life goes on. We grow and change, and people that were once on a similar path find that the road slowly, slowly diverges over time.
Who can say if our path would have divided if we’d stayed together? We’re very different people now, bound by a common affection that’s based on history more than any current assessment of each other’s character or circumstance.
But it’s nice to know that, despite everything, there’s someone out there who you remember – and who remembers you – with fondness, as The One That Got Away.