doing some character work, which includes the fun task of interviewing Paolo Romaldo. imagine my glee when I discovered this gem of a video on youtube:
ha ha, Dani Osvaldo talking about his tattoos and his favorite music. apparently he is planning to have all the characters from Pink Floyd’s The Wall tattooed on his left arm.
so here is an excerpt from my interview with Paolo, a work in progress. PR = Paolo Romaldo, I = Interviewer.
I: You’re quite involved with youth football charities, both here in Torino and in your home city of Napoli. Can you tell us why that’s so important to you?
PR: I started playing football when I was quite young—three years old, I think. I had a modest upbringing, and only because of the funding of the youth leagues was I able to get the start that I needed. I’ve never forgotten that. Particularly now, with the economy the way it is in Italy, giving children the opportunity to learn to play at a young age in a safe environment is one way I can give back.
I: That’s a lovely sentiment.
PR: Well, we’re trying to make it more than just sentimental. Ideally, it will change the lives of these children and also improve the caliber of football in Italy by growing talent at a young age.
I: Do you want to have children yourself?
PR: Of course I want children! I’ve always imagined a big family, three or four kids at least, coming home for dinner every night and seeing them lined up down the dinner table. I love kids. But I can wait a little longer, I want the situation to be right, obviously. I wouldn’t want to have four kids with four different women.
I: [coughs] It seems you and Francesca are on the right track, though.
PR: Of course, yes, I hope so.
I: What’s one thing our readers will be surprised to learn about you?
PR: Surprised to learn about me? That I love the opera. I have season tickets to La Scala.
I: I’d seen photos of you and Francesca at opening night, but I had assumed that was her doing and not yours.
PR: No, no, it was the other way around. I’ve loved the opera since I was a kid.
I: That is very surprising. If you weren’t a football player, what would you be?
PR: I don’t know. I’d never considered anything else. This is what I was meant to be. If it all changes tomorrow, I don’t know, a racecar driver.
(photo via La Vecchia Signora)
in Rule of Thirds, Francesca goes to Istanbul a second time to watch boyfriend Paolo Romaldo’s Champions League soccer match against Turkish side Fenerbahce. today, Juventus (Paolo’s team) visit Istanbul to play Galatasaray for a spot in the group stage of Champions League play. FORZA JUVE!
Francesca Garancini sat on the hardwood floor of her apartment surrounded by colorful designer shoeboxes. Their names rang out like beautiful music—Giuseppe Zanotti, Manolo Blahnik, Roger Vivier, Jimmy Choo—but their love songs were no longer meant for her. She opened each box and wistfully removed the shoes from their dust covers, stroking the python skin or the smooth kid leather, trying them on her feet and looking at them from several angles, even in her full length mirror. And then she boxed them up again and sent them to one of two piles demarcated with sharpie-written notes: KEEP and SELL.
The “sell” pile was disturbingly small, both in comparison to the “keep” pile and the stack of boxes she had yet to assess. So far she’d managed to eliminate a pair of MiuMiu red and black checkerboard watersnake heels and a pair of Alexander McQueen black velvet smoking slippers with gold skulls embroidered over the toes. She was ready to get rid of those; the shoes she’d worn to Moscow with Selim. The shoes she’d worn to her abortion.
She paused after saving, for now, her favorite pair of neon yellow Jimmy Choos (would it ever be possible to find that color again? It was so bright it was practically a neutral!) and lit a cigarette from the half-empty pack of Marlboros on the floor next to her. As she inhaled she kept from pursing her lips too tightly; she could barely afford wrinkles now. No money for Botox, plus she had to keep her skin looking youthful if she was going to find another rich man. Twenty-nine was the upper limit, even for someone in her circles.
Her former circles. Since summer she’d been slowly jettisoned from the social life she once knew. Opening night at La Scala last night and she had to read about it in the newspaper: her Uncle Marco, a grand patron, squiring her sister-in-law Giulietta to box seats; her ex-boyfriend Paolo Romaldo with a leggy blonde (another leggy blonde) on his arm where just a short year ago Francesca had been. Giulietta’s gown was overwrought with ruffles; the blonde looked like a hooker in a Topshop mini-dress; Francesca closed the Corriere della Sera in disgust.
She finished her cigarette, stubbing it out in a white china saucer overflowing with the detritus of the only vice she could afford to maintain. Selim had said she was a beautiful smoker. He’d probably told his wife the same thing.
the first 500 words of Dodge and Burn get the red pencil treatment today at romance writer Mia Marlowe’s blog. Mia and I met at RWA in Atlanta and I am thrilled that she gave such thoughtful attention to my work. read the original below and then check out Mia’s critique!
Francesca Garancini blinked twice, then clawed frantically through her Bottega Veneta hobo trying to find her sunglasses. The late winter sun was bright in Istanbul, but she had the added complication of having to contend with a growing swarm of photographers advancing towards her. She donned her big black Tom Ford sunglasses just as she saw, out of the corner of her eye, a red Porsche parked in the lot. With the paparazzi hot on her heels, she started running towards the car.
“Francesca! Francesca!” Some of the photographers were Italian, it seemed, camped outside the hospital waiting for news of Paolo Romaldo. Francesca was terrified that they recognized her so easily. Romaldo, meanwhile, was still inside the hospital, in traction, his left leg broken in two places during the previous day’s match with Galatasaray. He was most recently a Juventus midfielder, and, as Francesca dolefully acknowledged, her now-ex boyfriend.
She was running at a steady clip towards the Porsche but even so, the photographers were able to keep pace with her. Thankfully, she saw the man behind the wheel start the car and peel out of his parking spot, hanging a tight u-turn in her direction. She gripped the handle of the passenger door and propelled herself inside.
“I can’t believe you waited for me,” she said breathlessly to the man beside her.
He gripped her shoulder encouragingly. “I’d wait as long as I had to,” he replied. He took his hand from her shoulder and shifted gears, speeding out of the hospital parking lot, leaving a trail of photographers in his exhaust.
“I imagine they were here for Paolo,” she said, turning back to look out the rear windshield at the receding pool of paparazzi.
“But they got something even better,” the man commented grimly.
“What do you mean?”
“They got you getting into my car. They may be bottom-feeders, but don’t think for a moment they aren’t clever enough to put two-and-two together. The Italians know who you are. The Turks know who I am. Between both sides they’ll have a hell of a story tomorrow.”
She stared out the window. The view was bleak: bare branches like dark fingers in stark relief against a cold white sky, dingy grey buildings with dirty windows. She felt slightly sick, and pressed her cold fingers against her temples. “I don’t know what to do, Selim,” she said to him, never turning from the window.
He laughed, and it shocked her; his laugh was hearty and genuine, and her entire body tensed against it. She turned to him sharply.
“Why are you laughing?”
“Because you’re so serious,” he said, still chuckling, though more softly. “Don’t you understand? There’s nothing you can do. This is the way life is.”
“It’s over with Paolo.”
“And I’m sorry for him,” Selim said, “but I’m happy for myself.” He reached across for her hand. “And you’ll be happy, too. I promise you that.”
“You think it’s that easy? I can just walk away from Paolo Romaldo and take up with you like nothing happened?”
The concierge at his building knew her and let her in the front door; he smiled at her approvingly, looking at her hair piled high on her head, the cat-eye liner on her eyes, and the length of her legs stretched from the hem of her trench to her tall Givenchy shoes. She rode the elevator up to his flat with her heart racing. It had been almost three weeks.
The distance from the elevator to his front door felt like a hundred meters, and the sound of her heels on the wood floors echoed through the hallway. Surely he would know it was her. Finally, she reached his door and knocked, three efficient raps.
She heard him moving inside, turning down the volume on the television and walking towards the front door. Like a man, Paolo opened it without looking through the peephole.
Francesca stood before him, leaning against the door jamb. He was speechless.
“Open my coat,” she said, walking towards him into the apartment. She put her hands on his shoulders and pushed him back into the living room. She could tell he hadn’t been expecting her; he was wearing baggy Juventus sweatpants, black with a team crest and Nike swoosh embroidered just below the hip, a plain white v-neck tee that clung tantalizingly to his chest and biceps, and at least a day of stubble on his face. “Go ahead,” she said. “Open it.”
[after this: take out / eat in.]
“I’m not sure this is working,” she began, but she wasn’t confident and her words trailed off.
“What do you mean, not sure?”
“I don’t think it’s fun any more.” Inane, she thought to herself. What an inane thing to say.
“Who told you it was going to be fun? I’m sorry, Francesca, if you’re used to someone who kicks a ball and plays games all the time but life isn’t always fun. I don’t know what perpetual fun you expect but grow up.”
She kept quiet for several seconds. Selim seemed content to let the conversation drop.
“I’ll talk to you soon, I suppose,” she said weakly.
“No,” he said. “We’re adults. We’ll talk regularly, because we have a relationship. And I’ll see you in a few weeks. I’m working on a trip to Monte Carlo with some clients, and I expect that you’ll come.”
So this was how it was going to be. At least she had some direction, she thought. With Timo gone, it was a relief having someone tell her what to do again. And it could be worse than Monte Carlo.
She wasn’t happy about what he’d said to her, and she had no idea at all why she’d said what she’d said. Not sure it’s working. Selim was right, she thought. He was right to dress her down about relationships being hard work. After all the time she invested into Selim, all of the miles she’d traveled with him, everything they’d been through together. The entirety of their relationship, documented in magazines and trashy rag papers all across Europe, was she just to throw that all away? Because she wasn’t having fun?
Selim had made reference to Paolo, off-handedly, in an attempt to remind her of her failed relationship with him. But his comment had had the opposite effect. It had been fun being with Paolo, fun all the time, fun in St Kitts and fun in Torino and fun in bed. At the time, she thought he was simple, she would have agreed with Selim that he was a boy who played games rather than a man with a job. Maybe he had been better than a man with a job and a wife.
She picked up her phone again. If she called Paolo right now, after what, almost eight months, maybe he would speak to her again. Maybe he wouldn’t ignore her call. Maybe he was training and she could meet him in Coverciano and disappear with him into the hills of Fiesole, right outside Florence.
And Selim would call her a coward. He’d say she was just running away again, the same thing she did whenever anything seemed to get just the slightest bit difficult. How quickly he seemed to forget that she had already done the must difficult part. Moscow. The abortion. The thing she could never tell Paolo, even if he did answer her call.
Her glass was empty. Not half-empty, completely empty. When she got up from the couch to refill it she played a game with herself: if it was an even number of footsteps to the kitchen she would call Paolo. If it was an odd number, she wouldn’t.
One, two, three, four. It would be a shame to go backwards, she thought, to go back to Paolo. Eight, nine, ten. But he had really loved her. Entirely. She had met his father and his sister. Eleven. And she was over the threshold, in her kitchen. She wouldn’t call him, she decided firmly. It had been a silly thought. They had nothing else to say to each other.
[to remind you of Paolo: showering alone.]
on my last trip to Turin, I went to Juventus Stadium to see Paolo’s team take on Udinese. our seats at the edge of the field provided a Francesca-like view of the action (and the players–yum).
it’s during a Juventus – Udinese match in Rule of Thirds when a sports commentator calls Paolo Romaldo “the maestro of the midfield.” Francesca already knows he’s the maestro of her midfield…
When she woke it was Christmas morning and her bed was empty. Or rather, Paolo was gone and she was alone. She heard Christmas carols, the Vienna Boys’ Choir or something like that, traditional carols in Latin. Wafting down the hall she could smell something incredible–spicy, vanilla, maybe, a warm, holiday scent. Buttery. And then coffee, richer and darker. She opened her wardrobe and selected her most festive robe–a red and black embroidered kimono Alessandro had brought her from Hong Kong after he first moved there. She still had light red marks on her skin where the boning had dug into her. The silk robe felt divine–soft and smooth and cool on her skin.
She padded down the hallway barefoot, following the promise of breakfast. Paolo was standing in her kitchen, wearing his D&G shorts and his wool sweater over his bare chest, barefoot. He was concentrating on a small pitcher of frothed milk and a white cup and saucer.
“What are you doing?” Francesca asked, walking up to him.
“I’m trying to make a damn heart in this foam,” he said quietly, as if speaking any louder would disturb his art. “I’ve already had to drink two of them because I messed up.” He gestured towards the dirty cups in the sink.
“You’re adorable,” she said. “Especially in those,” she added, slapping his ass playfully.
“Hey! I almost had that one!” She had upset his cappuccino efforts.
“I’ll drink it anyway,” she said. “What else smells so good?”
“I toasted some panettone,” he said, abandoning the idea of designer foam and dumping the remaining frothed milk into his cup.
“Where did you find panettone?”
“I brought it from Torino.”
“When? Last night?”
“Yeah, I had a big bag that I brought in when we came home. I guess you didn’t notice because you were too busy devising your evil plan to make me your sex slave.”
“But look, now you’re a free man.” She kissed him. “Buon Natale.”
Merry Christmas, everyone. For more of the holiday with Paolo & Francesca, visit this compilation of Christmas excerpts.