After Marzia: The Virtual Surveyor
I have to say I feel embarrassed even now, recalling my eight months of impotency. I was sixteen, it is true, a long time ago, but past traumas and this kind of damages make dangerous cracks on the surface of your identity. I was a Sardinian boy, you know, in my mind quite a balente, a well-respected man of value in our town, Nugoro, where everyone acted macho. I had to accomplish such extraordinary feats, compared to which the clashes and loves of Achilles, son of Peleus, would have been ignored by history altogether – I dreamt and hoped. So I had to remedy that deficiency as soon as possible, and this goal, once it became an obsession, was not the best way to face the problem, you can understand.
Eventually, it was Capelli who helped me find a solution by introducing me to Assunta. She played a crucial role not only in therapeutic terms – oh, how much I appreciated her sessions – but also by improving my maturity. This happened thanks to a series of strange coincidences, which I’ll have to tell you about, maybe on another occasion, and which ended with me dressing up as her bridesmaid, yes, you can buy it or not.
Going back to that distressed period of my life, you can’t help wondering how the Nugoro girls reacted to the news of my impotency, and whether they teased me, pushing me away, or not. Actually a strange thing happened, maybe driven by the local teenagers’ dislike of Marzia. To tell the first part of the story, I have to explain that my sexual failure began after an arm-wrestling match I had lost against her, yes. At stake was another sex session I couldn’t perform anyway (see my previous piece Marzia, from Mars).
All the other girls approached me with a sort of maternal instinct, trying to protect me, poor boy, since I was only guilty of having fallen into the clutches of a mythological monster, Marzia. What’s more, she was of German origins on her mother’s side, thus she was the only culprit in the whole story.
Girls love to look after a homosexual or an impotent young man – I discovered then as if I were Jason struck on finding the Golden Fleece – because they feel safe and utterly understood. It also satisfies their compulsion to be nurses, to care for the sick or infirm or unfortunate. Besides, wasn’t I the best young writer in town (you need to know that my teachers exchanged and read my compositions of literature using a dreaming tone) and the most prolific goal scorer in the Puri e Forti, Pure and Strong soccer team? So, what could be better than taking care of me, a pale and unlucky victim of witchcraft, hoping for my future resurrection?
In a few months, I met and appreciated the full spectrum of the available girls, without any stress but a sad regret. “Available” just to indicating that the girls existed in Nugoro. They liked me, and dared to seek me out and talk to me, yes, but actually – and forgetting for a moment my status – the chance to experience not sex with them, but just heavy petting, or at least half an hour of kissing, was in our town terribly little. Winning the jackpot in the National Lottery was easier.
It will takes a long time to describe the local situation in depth, I know your curiosity, and first I have to talk about Capelli, “Hair”, the best character there is in my story, as already hinted. He was an outsider who could make things happen. His nickname came from the length of his mane. Before the appearance of the Beatles in the collective imagination in 1964, he was the only boy in town who didn’t have the same haircut all’umberta, short like a marine, but a full head of wavy hair. Moreover, he had a prominent nose and was slim and strong, and ignorant (only afterwards, during Assunta’s wedding, did I discover that he had a huge prick too). Since he had failed a surveying course over and over again, and the specialization in surveying was in the last place in the high schools ranking in town, his illiteracy was his trademark.
Now, it is not a certificate of merit or a value judgement about women, but it was a matter of fact that Capelli was seventeen and had fucked! As men dream of redeeming a prostitute and to fuck a nun (and he boasted about achieving both of these), so, he said, women long to save and convert a bad man, whatever the word “bad” means. Now, after what happened at Assunta’s wedding celebrations, I can guess that he had in mind an imaginary scale, at the left extremity of which there was a pure, diaphanous and sexless angel, and at the extreme right a being gifted with thirty centimetres of prick, a very bad man. So, while all of us, his friends, brilliantly masturbated, he could tell us about foreplay in which ***, about ***, and wild ***.
You can object that I had made love to Marzia, correct, and gained my own experience. Actually the truth was that before the unfortunate accident of the arm-wrestling match, she fucked me, not the opposite. She did so right to the very end, and she decided everything in a particularly bossy way, and denied me anything that was not strictly intended to give her the pleasure of the moment. There was no intimacy, no complicity, and so I had learnt next to nothing about sex, I have to say.
My group of friends used to meet at the new Esso gas station in Manzoni Street, in the suburbs of the town. Capelli worked there in the swing shift. The arrival of a car was a rare event, so we had time to chat and even do our homework using the small office, maybe three metres by one, full of cans of motor oil. Women were the main conversation piece, a blurred object of fervent desire for all of us except him.
“Do you see?” Capelli asked us, after having drawn in pencil a strange image. “The pussy is made this way.”
We all bent over the little table. The light was weak, but the office was a beacon in the dark and endless Manzoni Street, in the dark and borderless Seuna quarter.
“I don’t understand. Where are the legs?” This was Baldini, so called after the famous racing cyclist Ercole Baldini. His singular passion was cycling, in fact, not soccer. He was the group idiot since he had bumped his head against a wall: a tragic event actually.
He had assembled a new bicycle, the frame silver, I remember, with different stolen components, and he proclaimed his decision to conduct a conclusive test of the innovative brakes he had just invented, motorbike-like ones, as he said. So he sprinted with positive motivation towards the perimeter wall of the sanatorium, on a clear afternoon. Nearly fifteen boys, friends and disenchanted onlookers, watched his attempt.
Three metres away from the wall, Baldini braked using both his hands, his neck’s muscles stretched by the strain.
And the brakes broke with a sinister crack.
I was near the wall. The sound of the crash was horrible, so was the view of his head, squashed like a crushed can.
The crowd clapped. In any case, you know, it was an event. After three weeks in a coma, Baldini returned to life rather stupid, but good and sweet, and always fond of cycling, of course.
“Oh, fuck, I’m drawing a section, don’t you understand?” Capelli was not angry but professional. “Imagine a female body totally cut by a scimitar from the head to the ass. We are looking at the left part lying on the table, OK? Below here there is the left thigh.” Despite his failure at school, Capelli was a surveyor nevertheless.
“Mm, there is something missing…” This was Costante, who was just passing by and stopped on seeing us gathered in the office. “I have a different recollection of this.” Costante was forty-six, unmarried, and lived with his mother in the crowded and noisy Cuccubaiu (pigeons’ houses) quarter.
“What the hell?” Capelli asked.
“Hair,” Costante replied. “I remember my difficulty unravelling a black and woolly skein to penetrate…” The length of pubic hair was a sign of significant lust at that time.
“Oh fuck. I told you this is a section. The hair is outside, here.”
“And the prick, how does it enter?” This was Minestrone, the magistrate’s son. “I thought it would enter head-on, horizontally.”
“Eh, bravo,” Capelli puffed, “so women have a horizontal hole just under their belly…”
“Yes, they have a hole.”
“Yes, fuck, yes, but the position is different. Can’t you see in the drawing? The prick enters with its head up!”
“Ah!” This seemed a truly difficult task and everybody started thinking seriously, and we moved our heads back and forth to try to understand the problematic illustration.
“I don’t like women if sex is so… cruel,” Baldini commented.
Four boys belonged to a close group: Capelli, Minestrone, Baldini, and I. Antonio, called Minestrone, was one of my classmates at the Liceo Scientifico. He was the tallest and the most snobbish of the company. His father, widowed, came from the arrogant and remote city of Sassari. Antonio’s family included also his grandmother; thus he was spoilt and just a little above our class. But he was rich, you see, and his pocket money solved many practical situations, like purchasing Coca Cola, sometimes, or film tickets.
His father was well known in town because he travelled by bus across the province every week, to go to distant prefectures. And each time my friend’s grandmother gave the magistrate a straw-covered wine bottle full of minestrone, because she thought that the uncivilised people of Barbagia would poison her son out of revenge, sooner or later. The magistrate drank that thick vegetable soup from the bottle, also during hearings, swallowing beans and small pieces of pasta and potatoes, and sure enough his nickname immediately became Minestrone, which was inherited by his son Antonio, too.
Minestrone, my friend, had strange green eyes and a squint, and unusually big ears and hands. We often attacked him, and this role, to be the sacrificial rich goat, guaranteed his membership of our group.
I’ll talk later about Costante, the new entry to the story, because the pressure of the events is becoming stronger now. We were in the gas station, that evening in April 1962, and Capelli was explaining his vision of things – about women, of course. Maybe you don’t remember the soft colours and the fragrant scents of a Sardinian spring in the 1960s. Everything was still to happen, the future was just ahead of us, full of possibilities and magic spells. At the same time, we teens felt the weight of our constraints, and the result was a kind of torment that the mellow season amplified.
Capelli philosophised dividing the Nugoro women into five categories. The first comprised the prostitutes, easy to circumscribe because in town there was only one, Mariedda Pettorra (little Mary with large breasts). She by that time offered standing and interrupted intercourse only (she was in her late fifties, you have to understand, and no longer passionate about her profession). Of course, you were permitted to close the deal using your hand – hence the name of the five hundred lira service Accabatela (finish it yourself). That is, if you weren’t ashamed when the next client entered the room, kindly exchanging pleasantries with Mariedda and pulling down his trousers, while in the corner you were concluding your personal solo.
There was another option: if you were a xenophile or you had to join the army, in Cagliari, the official capital of Sardinia, there were the local prostitutes. They were confined to the La Scaffa quarter. Their rooms overlooked disquieting channels of sewage from which delicious and tasty crustaceans were fished out to be sold to the restaurants close to the barracks.
The second category of women for Capelli were those who were “nearly prostitutes”, that is to say all the ladies or girls or widows who aspired to be filles de joie without having the necessary courage to make their official outing. At that time, the twin Merse sisters, Angela and Vanessa, were the benchmark of the class. They were scornful with us poor wankers but extremely gentle with the most powerful and pre-eminent people in town. Rumour had it that they spent most of their time under the prefect’s writing desk, both ***, or in the sacristy, making their confessions: such is gossip in a provincial town, you know.
I’ll return later to Capelli’s breakdown of women because he stopped his speech just at that point, after the description of Vanessa’s brown nipples, and looked at Assunta who was approaching the gas station walking at a cracking pace. She belonged to this second category of women and was the one who took care of me to solve my temporary problem on which I wouldn’t make a stand…
I wouldn’t make a stand, I said.
… OK, OK, if you insist, the therapy happened in three sessions, for the record.
The first time all she did was cook pasta with ragout. It is true, she was entirely naked except for a tiny apron; she sucked the spaghetti and licked her fingers with studied gusto; however, she didn’t permit me to touch her, at all. Her apartment was small and the kitchen not larger than a six-seat table, but her presence, her movements overfilled the space and enhanced my unripe mind.
If you saw Assunta pass by, she would seem homely. Indeed, I’d say, she was a girl like many others, not worthy of a second look. She put makeup on her face and combed her hair like Ingrid Bergman, but her body disappeared below her informal, poor clothes. However, just naked, she was another person, and her figure, or rather her bottom, was truly impressive.
“Assunta’s ass is moving.” Cappelli said, describing that masterpiece as if it were a treasure in the Sistine Chapel. I couldn’t disagree with that.
During the following therapeutic session, she told me about an uncle of hers who used to abuse her. Strangely enough, I was not disgusted by his behaviour but more interested in her detailed descriptions. Then, in the third, decisive sitting, she started thinking of Troy Donahue, the main character in A summer place, and started touching herself while looking at an old magazine – I still remember the cover – when the eruption occurred. So I could play my role again on the macho stage (or, at least, I had a licence to do so).
Assunta approached our office and just stood in the doorway to tell us, in an unquestionable tone: “I’ve trapped a man from Bosa, I’m going to marry him!”
Bosa was a village on the west coast of Sardinia, built in the estuary of the Temo River and called meldosa (shitty Bosa) because of its unfortunate dependence on the tides. When the tide was high, the legend said that the sewage returned and flooded the pavements and the village itself, leaving a lingering, easily recognisable smell, on the people too.
“Hallelujah!” said Capelli. “We can toast using this exhausted motor oil that…”
“Shut up!” Assunta ordered. “I can’t stand your carefree humour, today, I’m in a hurry. You must help me.”
“Help you?” Capelli, the only one who dared to speak, was bewildered, neither about the news nor about the Bosa origin of the man to whom she was betrothed (there was in fact coherence: the trapped cock couldn’t be but from a forgotten or unlucky village). What did hit him was that request for help, there in the Esso gas station.
We, his friends, felt all still, surprised that such a piece of ass – I well remembered it, and I knew that beneath her clothes and lingerie there was indeed such a piece of ass – would communicate with us, asking for something.
“Yes, all of you,” she answered, firmly passing her glance from one to another of us. “I need a family.”
P.s. This is another fiction/non-fiction short story, of course.