Talking to Strangers: Bologna, Italy
Nerve asks deeply personal questions to people we just met.
by Silvia Donati
What do you do?
I'm a software engineer at a local university.
So you're around students a lot. Does your job get you a lot of dates?
It depends on the years. No, I'm kidding. There's a lot going on among the students of course, but not so much among staff. And there are cameras everywhere — which I control, by the way — so no, no secret love affairs.
Are you seeing anybody right now?
Yes, but unfortunately this somebody is very far. She lives in Urbino.
Is it serious?
Not at all. I don't want anything serious.
How often do you see each other?
Every month, when it goes well.
Is there anybody you're seeing in Bologna?
No, although there's someone I like. But she has a boyfriend.
Did you tell her you like her?
I did. One night I managed to go out with her and a group of other friends. At one point, with the help of some alcohol — maybe too much alcohol, actually — I approached her and told her I was crazy about her and I thought about her all the time, which doesn't happen often to me.
How did she react?
She laughed. Really hard. And she kept walking. At that point I went home, quite desperate.
Have you talked to her since?
No, and I don't think I want to.
You were very brave, considering she has a boyfriend.
Yeah, well, he wasn't there that night.
What do you look for in a girl?
She must be smart and pretty. She must have some sexual spark. She shouldn't be predictable — I don't want someone who I know for sure is always there for me, always 100% available, always waiting for me.
Do you have any crazy exes?
Yes, this one girl who I met at my father's store. I asked her for her phone number, but instead of giving it to me, she gave me a different riddle to solve every time I saw her just to get one digit of the entire number. The height of it was when she gave me a Sudoku to solve.
Did you guess her phone number in the end?
No, I was finally able to get it from her because I insisted so much that she relented. So we started going out together, but she was crazy and obnoxious. She tended to overreact. So I ended it, and she totally flipped — she yelled at me, cried for hours, then disappeared, and I had to go look for her because I was worried. She travels the world now, working as a flight attendant.
It's comforting to know there are unstable flight attendants. Do you think that men are no longer predators and don't make their intentions clear?
Well, I think some boldness is missing from both sides.