There are creepy guys everywhere

This morning I had an appointment at the US Consulate to drop off my passport application for a new passport. My current/old passport has my maiden name and while I had no problem continuing to travel under that name (think of all the crimes I could commit! They’d never know who did it!) according to US law I’m not allowed to. Pfft, what a bunch of wet blankets, making me be all law abiding and stuff. My appointment was at 11am and I figured it would take about an hour in the sweltering heat to get down to the waterfront where the embassy is located. (Aside: the thing about Italians is that they are never, ever, EVER on time for anything, EVER. EVER. I can’t emphasize this enough. It’s not necessarily a bad thing [unless you’re an always punctual American, Swiss, or German, then, well, you probably want to hurt someone] it’s just what they do.) Personally I am rarely early for things, I’m usually there on the dot of whatever hour I’m supposed to be there. Maybe I’ll get a few minutes before but let’s not go crazy, I can use those extra few minutes for sleeping or tv watching, I have my priorities. Anyway, so it doesn’t take an hour to get down the hill, more like 30 minutes including the time I spent trying to find a tobacco shop that sold stamps. (Answer: none of them do!) I got there a whole 20 minutes early which is almost unheard of in this country. I had to leave my cell phones (I carry two cause I’m awesome and my iPhone is basically a brick over here since it’s tied to AT&T for the time being) and my SureFire flashlight (what?) with the security guy then headed inside prepared to wait for an eternity because this is the Federal Government and everything takes forever. Imagine my surprise when I was in and out in less than 10 minutes. There’s a comment about the irony of the situation somewhere but I’m too tired to find it right now…

Moving on. Since the consulate is so very far from the funicolare and it’s Monday I decided to wander along the lungomare since it’s now closed to vehicular traffic. I sat on a bench in the shade and read for a while before deciding I needed AC and a drink. As I was walking towards civilization I made the mistake of saying hi to an older guy walking a cute dog. Rule #1 for non-Italian women travelling in Italy: DO NOT ENGAGE OLDER MEN IN CONVERSATION*. You think I’m joking but sadly I am not. I’ve gotten used to guys staring at me, cat-calling, whatever (I don’t get it but I’m used to it anyway) but older unmarried Italian men just refuse to quit. This dude immediately turned around and started trying to talk to me. He asked if I was a tourist, was I a student, did I speak english, was I Russian (Russian? Really?). I pulled out my cell phone and called Greg. I was actually TALKING TO GREG on the phone and the dude was still following me and trying to talk to me. Clearly this happened to him a lot and he refused to believe I was really talking to someone. I quickly walked through the craziest, most dangerous part of an intersection just to lose him but he managed to work his way across and caught up to me. At this point I was so sick of this bullshit I just started playing dumb. Rule #2 for non-Italian women travelling in Italy: If you do engage older men in conversation no manner of excuse is going to get them to stop talking to you. Trust me. Playing dumb may be your only way out. This dude stalked me for a good 10 minutes before he finally got the message that I wasn’t playing his stupid game. He went down another street and I got on with the rest of my day. I’ve had similar things happen before one previous trips here and I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it. There are creepy guys everywhere.

* This is not to say that you shouldn’t talk to people just be aware that their customs may be different than yours. If you don’t want to be hounded by someone you may need to prepare some things to say ahead of time to shut them down. Nothing I said to this guy worked so I had to become mute to get my point across, you may have to do something different. This is also just my personal experience, you may never come across this which, if that’s the case, I’m jealous.

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