I’ve been staring at my computer screen for hours now. I read the email from Mom again.
“Becca, boobilah! We are thrilled that you will be in L.A. for Passover! We can’t wait to hear all about your exciting life abroad and to finally meet Angelo!
For the past five years, I have successfully avoided all family functions. The fact that I live in Italy has been a helluva an excuse. I came here to finish my memoir but instead of writing, I down too much vino and cobblestone my days until blisters replace my feet. When I sit down to write, my words take a hike and my sad solitude sets set in. Rather than return home a failure, I stay. Instead of writing, I teach English to five-year-olds. My first Italian sentence was, “Devo fare pipi!”
Anyhow, my family understood that pulling me away from my very important work, (the book I’m pretending to write) and traveling from Rome to Simi Valley just for two nights of parsley, plagues, and prayer, was asking a lot. (Mine is a practical tribe after all.) But this year it was common knowledge that I’ll be in Los Angeles shooting a movie (thanks, Twitter!) and so naturally, when not in Rome… I will do as the Israelites have done for thousands of years, please their mothers.
I live an isolated, not-at-all-like-what-you-see-in-the-movies, La vita Italiana. I’m mad that I can’t remember the gender of words and the food is way too carb-heavy, the humidity makes me feel gross and the mosquitoes are trying to kill me. Plus I’m God awful lonely. Although the truth is, I’m not altogether alone. There is Angelo. Angelo is gorgeous. Angelo is funny. Angelo adores me more than anyone ever has in my entire life. I met him my first week here when we were both wandering around Trastevere in search of the perfect pizza. We bonded over our mutual hunger and lostness. We clicked over our messy confusion and grumbling tummies. It was love at first sight.
He’s the best dog a girl could hope for.
Only my family doesn’t know I have a dog. They think I have a man. They think I’m being productive and being in-love and living la bella vita. With Angelo. The human man, not the scruffy mutt.
“How can I get out of this?” I say, looking deeply into Angelos’s adorable brown eyes. Angelo licks my nose and then scratches a sudden itch on his butt.
“I’ll be your date!” He says.
Before shock and awe can set in at the sound of my dog speaking to me in accented English, Angelo stands up on his tiny Terrier hind legs, spins around three times fast, and then WHOOSH, appearing before my very eyes, stands a stunning, dirty blonde naked human man. With a damn good head of hair.
“What the actual fu…”
“No time for the confusion!” Angelo the man interrupts. “Passover is in one week. I’m going to need pants.”
When we arrive, everyone is busy in the kitchen so they don’t notice when Angelo follows me into the bathroom.
We didn’t have much time to work on Angelo’s human skills. We sit at the table and Angelo laps up the salt water from the dipping bowl.
“They’ll be back any second. Be good!” Ignoring me, he bites into a Matazah.
“Everything on the table is for prayer purposes. We eat later,” I say tugging the Matazah out of his mouth.
Angelo buries his face in my lap. “Angelo, basta!”
He tilts his head to the side. “Why? It’s good to be affectionate with your boyfriend, no?”
“But we cuddle at home.”
“You’re like my child, Angelo. Don’t make this weird.”
His tongue flops out of his mouth and I grab it to place it back in. I scratch him behind his ears to calm him.
Three hours later…
Baruch ahah Adonai…
We’re coming across as a real, human couple.
“I love your hair,” my sister says.
“Grazie. I have a wonderful groomer,” Angelo says.
“Groomer?” Mom laughs.
“That’s what they call it in Italy,” I say.
Dad tosses Angelo the Haggahda and is amazed by how quickly Angelo catches it. In this mouth.
“Fantastic reflexes, Angelo!”
It’s going well until Dad opens the door for Elijah.
Every Passover we set out an extra cup of wine for the prophet Elijah and we open the door, hoping he’ll arrive as a symbol of hope.
But this year, when Dad opens the front door a squirrel is eating a walnut on the lawn. Angelo notices, freezes, wiggles his nose, then, before I can stop him, Angelo leaps onto the dinner table, one hand plops into the Matzo ball soup, and the other knocks over Dad’s 4th glass of red spilling onto my sister’s white dress, then Angelo practically flies over Mom’s head and straight out the front door!
We search for hours with no luck. I never should have let Angelo do this. If only I told the truth from the start. What was I so ashamed of? I’m living my life, trying to figure things out, like everyone else. I begin to weep. My family comforts me while I close my eyes and vow to live truthfully from here on out if only Angelo would return.
At that moment, a wet nose nudges its way behind my hands to get to my face. Starring at me is my eight-pound mutt, kissing away my tears.
Back in Rome
My family almost understood the magic that is Angelo. Although my sister thinks I should talk to a professional, my dad thinks I should get Angelo on TV and my Mom thinks I should move back home. But none of that matters. As long as I stay true to myself, it’ll all work out. Oh and I’ve changed my genre from memoir to fictional memoir.
I haven’t stopped writing since.