Almost Taken: My Solo Night Out in Roma

Aug 13, 2014 by

          “Tree, on our wine tour in Siena yesterday, there was this girl travelling by herself that talked to everybody!” my friend told me over dinner on my first night in Italy. “She reminded me of you,” he said.

          “Yeah, by the end of the tour, she knew everyone’s name,” my girlfriend added.

          “I actually said, ‘That’s exactly what Theresa would be like travelling solo,’” he continued.

          “Aw! It melts my heart that you think I’m that social that she reminded you of me!” I shrieked with my hand pressed to my heart, making them laugh.




          I’m an advocate of talking to strangers. Ninety-nine percent of the time (a stat I’m fully making up), doing so leads to interesting people. While taking a solo stroll from my fav cacio e pepe to the best gelato in Roma, I mingled with the other one percent. Though talking to strangers has yet to land me chopped up in a river, Rome made me highly aware of the possibility. Fortunately, by the umpteenth question posed about my sex life, I realized that I was a close contender for the lead role in the next Taken, and made my escape.

          On Thursday, my last night in Italy, I told my friends that I was going to do my own thing, so I could visit my favourite places in Rome before leaving. It was my best night out in Italy. Because I was chilling by myself, I interacted with people that I wouldn’t have spoken to had I been with my friends. In addition to peeps I encountered from France, Miami, Ukraine, and of course Rome, there was a lovely couple from Australia that I met at Roscioli, the restaurant I went to for dinner. This couple gets a special mention, not only because they were wonderful to talk to and kind enough to offer me wine from their bottle (which I declined, but how sweet!), but because the following excerpt of my conversation with them demonstrates my casual demeanor with new people.

          “Are you two married?” I asked them.

          “No,” they smiled together.

          “Engaged?” I assumed, forgetting that most people don’t dish their business to strangers the way I do.

          “No,” the female of the pair laughed. “I like her!” she said to who I hoped was at least her boyfriend.

          “Oh God,” I turned to the guy. “I am so sorry if I just put a lot of pressure on you,” I apologized.

          “No, no,” he laughed.

          “Marriage doesn’t matter to me,” his girlfriend genuinely chimed in.

          “Me neither,” I smiled. (For the record, I want to get married, but not for the reason of eternal commitment that prompts most marriages.)

          It is because I regularly have conversations like these upon first meeting people that I initially didn’t think anything of the questions asked of me by the creeper I met later in the night. I’m nosey when it comes to relationships. I’m more likely to ask new friends about their romantic history than their jobs. I’m far less interested in what people do than I am in who they do. Because I’m very open, I ask personal questions. Not with the intent to be invasive. I don’t mean anything by it. I just don’t consider personal questions to be taboo. Therefore, when some very forward questions came my way on Thursday night, I answered them without flinching. I didn’t think they were out of the ordinary, because I simply assumed the guy asking them was as comfortable discussing traditionally inappropriate topics as I am. Safe solo female travel 101: Substantial conversation in place of small talk is the basis of friendship. Explicit sexual discourse in place of small talk is a red flag – like, fucking electric crimson.

          I was on my way to Frigidarium from Roscioli when a guy approached me in the street. “Scusa,” he said to catch my attention. “Che ore sono?”

          I pulled out my phone to check the time for him.

          Before I could answer, he asked if I speak English. “I need to practice,” he told me.

          “You speak English well,” I smiled in assurance.

          “Where are you from?” he asked.

          “Toronto, Canada,” I said. “Are you from Rome?”

          “Yes,” he answered. “Where do you live in Toronto? With your parents?” he guessed. “I do research on the living habits of young people.”

          “Yeah, I live with my parents, but I just moved back into their house in March. I lived with my best friend for most of the six and a half years before that.”

          “If you live with your parents, what do you do if you want to bring your boyfriend over?” he wondered.

          Not thinking this question was the slightest bit odd, I answered, “I don’t have a boyfriend, so I haven’t bumped into that problem yet. I don’t typically bring guys home though. Even when I lived with my best friend, I preferred to go out with them.”

          “Is this best friend you lived with a guy or a girl?”

          “A girl.”

          “Do you like the guys or the girls?” he grew curious.

          “I like guys,” I responded, thinking nothing of the question.

          “So you’ve never brought one of your boyfriends home?” he pressed.

          “I’ve never had a boyfriend,” I told him honestly.

          He looked stunned. “You’ve never had a boyfriend?”

          Used to that reaction, I smiled. “Nope,” I confirmed.

          “So you’ve never had sex?”

          Still not thinking this was a strange conversation to be having with someone I had just met in the street (I know, I know, what the fuck is wrong with me?), I continued talking. “I’ve had sex,” I corrected.

          “But you haven’t had a boyfriend,” he reiterated.

          Before I could state the obvious that a boyfriend isn’t required to have sex, he was asking about the details – which I gave!

          “How old were you your first time?” he began his whirlwind of questions.


          “And the guy wasn’t your boyfriend? So you just fuck random guys?”

          “No,” I laughed. “I’ve slept with very few guys.”

          “How many since your first?” he continued. “And how did it happen, your first time? … Did the guy propose that you lose your virginity or did you? … How about the next guy? Was he better?”

          Oh my God, I thought, is this guy getting off on this conversation? Why am I still answering him?

          “How did it happen with your second guy?”

          “It just happened,” I said.


          Weirded out but not yet concerned for my safety (because I’m a dumbass!), I kept responding.

          “He fucked you in his car?” he yelped.

          Instead of searching for my nearest escape route, like a normal person, I began wondering if sex in cars is less prevalent in Europe than it is in North America.

          “Who had a bigger cock?” he asked.

          Okay! This conversation was over. I sensed I was risking my life if I didn’t walk. I answered the question (because I’m #foolish), and walked away.

          “Maria, wait, just give me ten more minutes! For my research! I’ll give you 20 euros!”

          “I don’t need 20 euros. I have to meet my friends,” I said with a goodbye wave.

          “Wait!” he called after me.

          Speed walking down the sidewalk, I turned to two women I noticed beside me.

          “Hi!” I exclaimed.

          “Hi,” they awkwardly replied in unison.

          “I’m sorry, can you pretend to know me? There’s a really creepy guy following behind.”

          “Yeah!” they smiled brightly. “Are you by yourself?”

          “Yes,” I said. “Well, I’m in Rome with friends, but it’s my last night, so I wanted to do my own thing, but walking this city solo is proving to attract a lot of unwanted attention,” I dramatically exhaled.

          Laughing, one asked me, “Did you say we’re your friends?”

          “I told him I have to meet my friends, which I don’t; so if you could be them, that would be great!”

          I briefly chatted with this mother-daughter duo until I felt I was far enough away from the guy to go it alone again. “Ladies, thank you for saving my life,” I said before leaving them. “You go enjoy your wine. I’m going to walk in the opposite direction of that,” I pointed toward the spot where I was speaking to the douche.

          Even in the moment, though probably minutes away from being tossed into an alley, I found the situation amusing. Of course I’d have a conversation like this with someone I had less than five minutes of history with.

          When I told Olivia the story upon my return home on the weekend, she responded, “This guy is still jacking off to your conversation right now!”

          I laughed. “If I hadn’t been alone, that funny conversation wouldn’t have happened,” I pointed out.

          With her eyebrows raised in that Maria-is-too-friendly-for-her-own-good way, she sarcastically replied, “That’s one way of looking at it.”

          “Oh my God!” I shouted, suddenly remembering something crucial. “Olivia, I forgot to tell you. Guess what his name was!”

          “No!” her eyes widened in horror.

          “Yes,” I confirmed, knowing she already knew.

          “No, this guy was not your Daniele,” she stated firmly.

          “He wasn’t my Daniele,” I laughed. “He was a Daniele.”

Happiness Tip: Stupid moves make entertaining stories.

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  1. Kiren

    I absolutely loved this! You are totally right. You will never know what life has in store for you if you don’t get out of your comfort zone.


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