Her cousin Tiffany, driving a light-blue BMW 328 convertible, met her at the airport.
“Get ready for the best summer of your life,” she said through a fog of cinnamon chewing gum.
Britney Spears was on the radio, Tiffany was seventeen and wore dark eyeliner and low jeans, much to the chagrin of her father who made it home on the 6:53 from the city and suspected he was developing an ulcer. Francesca wasn’t sure if it was the best summer of her life, but it was definitively better than her first experience with America. She and Tiffany laid out by the pool at the country club, slathered in baby oil, reading Cosmopolitan magazine. They went to parties and drank out of red plastic cups and made out with boys who played lacrosse. And then some. Francesca remembered a party once, where Tiffany had disappeared and left her talking with some blond-haired, blue-eyed American boy named Todd. They were on a couch in someone’s basement, and Todd kissed her, hesitantly at first, tasting like Bud Light and Doublemint, and he took her hand and placed it on his jeans, over his fly, he held it there and she felt him, hard, the first time she had felt an erect penis.
“Let’s go,” he said, pulling her up from the couch and leading her to a bathroom on the first floor. A half-bath, they called it in America, a bathroom with just a toilet and sink. She didn’t know why she remembered that. He closed the door and pressed the little brass button on the knob to lock it. She stood on a little blue rug in front of the toilet, glancing from the vase of silk flowers on the vanity to the brass candle sconces flanking the mirror. Todd kissed her again, harder this time, and he reached through her shirt to touch her breasts, moaning a little as he did. He directed her hand back to his crotch.
“I don’t know what you want me to do,” she said.
Afterwards, she sat outside in the passenger seat of the blue BMW, chewing cinnamon gum and waiting for Tiffany to come out, . It was her first sexual experience, the first time she’d ever gone down on a guy. When she went back to Milan three weeks later, she kept it like a secret, a smug inner knowledge of something she knew that no one else did.