How can you be crabby on a balmy Italian summer evening sitting on a moonlit terrace with a stunning view of the Bay of Naples?

I asked myself that question one night, when my prince and I were in Italy enjoying a bit of rest and romance. Let me tell you the story:

A Night of Romance, or Not

From our modest B&B hidden in an ancient building, we walk to the waterfront in search of an Italian repast. We pass a number of large luxury hotels – the 5-star variety – with rooms that offer a view of the Bay of Naples with Vesuvius looming on the horizon. (You pay dearly for this view, trust me.) Several outdoor restaurants live along this stretch as well, to cater to the tourists. We settle ourselves at an alluring terrace bathed in soft candle light and resplendent with white table cloths, sparkling glasses and shimmery silverware. Straight out of the movies, I tell you.

We order wine and a plate of seafood antipasti and do a little people-watching. I love people-watching, don’t you?

Romance in Italy

In front by the road several teenagers are hanging out as only teenagers hang out. They come and go, on motorcycles and Vespas, or on foot. We watch the girls and boys playing out the ancient mating rituals. They hug and kiss, they grope and fondle. Ah, all those hormones running rampant! Such exquisite torture!

At the table next to us sits an American couple in their sixties with bad body language and no love hormones running rampant. They look disenchanted and make snarky comments as they discuss the menu. She’s a dumpy woman with bleached hair, he’s a paunchy guy with a bald head and a flabby face. I’m not trying to be mean here, but fact is fact and unfortunately the truth is not always flattering. There’s nothing charming about these two, and they spew fumes of discontent into the balmy Italian night. There ought to be a law, is what I think.

Octopus for sale in the market

I can’t hear everything they’re saying, which is just as well because it isn’t love talk, and I don’t want my happy mood spoiled. I’m enjoying myself, sitting here with my man, sipping wine, and munching on a plate of mixed seafood antipasti. It features a lot of octopus, which is very popular in these parts.

The crabby couple apparently does not like what‘s offered on the menu. They don’t like the octopus stuff and everything else is also weird (I just know that’s what they’re thinking.) I’m guessing they’re staying at one of the nearby posh hotels; they are well dressed, and the lady sports a huge diamond rock on her finger and an impressive string of pearls around her neck.

As I sip my wine I watch her take her purse and leave the table – to go to the ladies room, I presume. Her two-piece dress does not look cheap, but it somehow manages to look hopelessly frumpy on her. Sadly, menopause has not been kind to her, and too many calories are showing up in uncharming ways. None of this is alleviated by a sparkle in her eyes, a smile on her face, or even a whiff of Joy perfume. I think I’m smelling Poison.

Grumpy husband stays behind and drinks his beer, staring into space, the very picture of grouchiness. He does not see the Bay of Naples. He does not see the charm of his surroundings, the snogging teenagers. He sees something else. Inside his mind. And it’s not pretty.

And then I do what I often do: I try to imagine what their story is (I’m a writer and I imagine and make up lots of stuff). Maybe they’ve had a fight. Maybe he said this was a waste of money, coming here, even though he’d promised her the trip for 20 years. Or maybe earlier in their luxurious hotel room he wanted sex and she didn’t. Or the other way around. I wonder if gloomy people like this dyspeptic duo still have sex. They don’t look like they enjoy each other. They don’t look like they enjoy much of anything.

My heart aches for them. How can you be unhappy on a balmy Italian summer night sitting in this charming terrace with a view of the Bay of Naples? The moon is ripe, the hills sparkle with lights and the yachts are ablaze with kilowatts. The wine is intoxicating and the octopus is yummy. How romantic can it be? What does it take?

I drink my wine. For me it doesn’t take that much, but then I’m easy. I may have traveled the world but having dinner with my man in a romantic restaurant anywhere still does it for me. I glance over at the horny teenagers who clearly don’t care about the Bay of Naples because it’s always there and has always been there and what’s the big deal? What they care about is sex and finding a place to have it. It’s a problem, you know.

The morose matron returns to her seat. Between the young lovers in the street and the choleric couple next to us there’s a contrast of serious sexual magnitude.

I’m thinking of the hormonal issue of menopause. Granted, this is not the most romantic subject to consider while on an idyllic outing with the love of your life, but there it is, sprung up mischievously in my mind (must be my age). I’m wondering why many women after menopause still feel the desire for sex while Mother Nature has taking away the ability to conceive.

I look at my mate. “What is the purpose of sex?” I ask, chewing octopus.

“Fun,” says he.

“No, I mean-”

He raises his brows. “You don’t like my answer?” His tone is dry.

“That’s not it. I am very happy you think the purpose of sex is fun. Let me rephrase my question: What is the biological purpose of sex?”

“Fun.” He sips his wine and gives me a seductive look.


“You don’t like the answer? What answer would you like?” He pours me some more wine.

“What I mean is, the biological purpose of sex is the continuation of the species. Procreation.”

“So if you know, why ask me?”

Well, yes, why. “I was going somewhere with this. I have another question I was setting this up for.”

“All right,” he says agreeably, “sex is for the continuation of the species, for procreation. And for fun.”

“Fun so you’d want to do it and so procreate.”


Now we’re getting somewhere. I’m on my second glass of wine. I’m trying to think clearly and pose the question rationally. “Now, why do the females of the species still want sex after their childbearing years are over?”

“Because it’s fun.” He breaks off a piece of bread.

“But why would it still feel like fun?”

“Because it is.”

“Okay, true.” I stab a chunk of octopus with my fork. “But the hormones necessary for procreation aren’t functioning anymore after menopause. They’ve dried up and gone.”

“Is it the hormones that make sex fun?” he asks.

“Of course.” I point at the necking teenagers across the road. “Look at those kids over there.”

“But after menopause they’ve dried up,” he reminds me.

“Right. But it’s still fun, anyway.”

He nods sagely. “Well, if it isn’t the hormones, then it must be mass hysteria of the post-menopausal brigade.”

Mass hysteria of the post-menopausal brigade! Of course! What was I thinking!

I glance at the dour woman at the next table. She stares dully at her food, then glances up and looks at her husband, boredom and malcontent radiating from her. She doesn’t look like she’s into mass hysteria.

Too bad for her.
♥  ♥  ♥

So, dear reader, do you have a people-watching story? Or a tale about love and romance — the mysteries, the joys, the creepiness? And of course, an Italian adventure of any sort is good. Make my day!

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Happy MannequinIf you’ve taken careful notes, you will know that Miss Footloose, in her expat travels around the world, has developed a mania for mannequins. Not just any mannequins, mind you; she likes the ones with creepy personalities, the haughty types pretending to have class, the ones showing a bit of whimsy, and even the fake sisters clearly displaying a freaky mental imbalance.

Camera in hand, she hunts down these babes in the flea markets and shop windows of the world. This obsession may not show off her intelligence and high-mindedness to good effect, but so it goes. We cannot all be politicians, can we?

So, for your entertainment, here are a few (more) chicks in her mannequin collection.


How about this classy French madame? You gotta love the bald head, the blingy skirt, the pearls, the sexy décolleté. And would you believe, she even has…

 Mannequin with BrainsBrains!



Mannequin WaitingWhen I first spotted her from a distance, sitting there on a bench, I thought this femme fatale was real flesh and blood, but no. Just as well, since she doesn’t seem to be wearing much under her coat.

Mannequin Charmer

Don’t you love this charmer? Wouldn’t you just want to take her home?

Warning: Don’t look at the next one if you’re of a prude disposition, have high moral values, or if you’re American. (Sorry, I could not resist.)

Mannequin Stripper

This manic maid was found stripping for all to see right out in the open in a big antique market in the south of France. Even children saw her!

Take a deep breath. Try to calm your nerves. Let’s go to England:

Mannequin Jane Austen

Surely this prim and proper lady will slow down your galloping heart. Captured with the camera in Bath, England, where else.

Mannequin Kissing

In France even some of the mannequins love to “faire la bise” and you will recognize this sweetheart as being a kissing cousin of the laughing one at the very top of the post. An entire tribe of this style of mannequins wanders around the world and they’re great fun to find. One rather freaky one was spotted in China by one of Miss Footloose’s bloggy friends.

Mannequin Bathing in Soap

Here’s a bathing beauty in a soap shop, fragrant, if not comfortable. Notice how her breasts are strategically hidden by plastic soap foam. One trusts she’s not trying to seduce passers-by to do anything but buy a bar of soap.

This is it for now. But if you haven’t got your fill yet of looking at funky ladies, here are more in the collection:

Weird, Broken, and Headless

Window Shopping in Rome

* * *

Have a funky collection or hobby yourself? Do tell! Any interesting mannequin tales? Please share! Scroll down and hit that comment button.

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