Define Love“, my father demanded, yesterday via Skype.

Oh, God!

Come on, dad, now what kind of question is that!? The writers, philosophers, poets, scientists…everyone, for centuries were looking for the answer to this question and never found it anywhere! Or rather, there are plenty of answers for each of us. For example, what is love for you?’’

There is no love“, he said. ‘’Look around you. It’s something purely selfish. Nobody knows how to really love another person. They love you (but it is also inappropriate to use this term) because you make them feel good. Because you give something to them. Because even when they do something for you they do it because it makes them feel good.”

And now inevitably to my mind comes the chatter that I have with my girlfriends, their complaints, sighs, and always the same question that ends every speech. “But what happened to men?” And I think of my male friends, as well, who sometimes leave me speechless with their answers, definitions and defenses. And the terror that lurks behind those “To me it’s completely fine to be like this.”

But ok, you know that Italians are something else, don’t you“, says Marija, my friend from Belgrade, always via Skype.

Hmmm …what do you mean by that?

They are gallant, they know how to treat a woman, they are good in bed, bring you out and pay the bill, they open the door for you, they are gentlemen, they know how to court you, they are…” She could talk like this till tomorrow but I had to interrupt her, “Stop! Are you aware that you are presenting me a list of so many misconceptions, and how can you know that any man that I know is like that!?”

No, come on, but if Italians are also not like that, what are they like then!?” Marija’s voice is almost desperate.

So what they’re really like?

Luca tells me he’s finished with love and sex. And although he has some physiological needs, he wants to be patient. He doesn’t like to “have fun” just having sex. It bores him, and he decided he’s above that a long time ago. A longtime girlfriend froze his heart. The youporn will never do that.

Fede immediately puts his hands forward even though no one asked anything from him. “It’s better to prevent”, he says. (But prevent what!?) and then adds that he’s okay, he’s the one that doesn’t attach, he is the one who disappears. (‘’Oh, Goddamn it!’’, Michela exclaims when I tell her that).

Davide is not ready for a serious story. So he, with his friends with benefits is just fine.

Fra has a “regular” girlfriend that he cheats on with a dozen of those “non-regular”.

Mauri is a former very good husband, a role model of a perfect family man, who suddenly decided, leaving a total devastation behind him, that he wants to live his youth that he never had a chance to fully live.

And Stè, ​​my best friend Stè, ​​when he speaks of his boyfriend Ale says, “But you know, Ale is a treasure, really, he is a puppy, so tender, so kind (God, as if he’s talking about a dog)…but the way it was with Filippo, I will never have that with anyone!!!” (Just so to be clear, with Filippo he almost broke the furniture in the house due to passion, and I really hope that Ale will never read this!)

And then, there are many of them who say, “I’ll pay,” but it seems that they’re doing you a favor of a century. The flowers don’t exist anymore, the little attentions are a waste of time, the warmth of the voice is replaced with cold impersonal words typed on a computer, virtual sex on the screen is prefered to the skin against skin, legs and arms entwined, the perfumes and the sweating. Because making love does not exist anymore, but what happens between two people in the bed now has another name.

Beacuse almost everyone goes for distance. A personal space. Freedom. The men, as I understand them, and I know just a few of them, really. And I’m not even talking about the ones with the capital M.

So, Marija, no, Italian men are not what you think they are. Or at least not anymore. But I don’t think this applies to Italians only.

And no, dad, I can’t tell you what love is, because the more I think about it the more I think you’re right. And this, you can understand that, is a kind of hard for me to admit.

PS Today Efisio, the 54 condominium bartender seems a bit low-spirited, even though he is humming the song you hear on the radio, repeating “Dove è l’amore” (Cher song).

What’s going on, Efi?“, I ask.
Oh, nothing“, he sighs.
Come on, tell me…some love pain?
Well you know, it’s when you taste something, and you like it and then they deny it to you. That’s what’s going on.

Oh, God. And then we go around generalizing men. Although I’m not so sure what he means by “to taste”!