The most interesting fight Virginia and I ever had was in Rome a couple years ago. We went down for a long weekend and were out sampling the Rome nightlife which for us basically means all the Irish pubs. We finished our night at the John Bull Pub, which is an English style pub near the Vittorio Emmanuel II monument in Palazzo Venezia. By that time, I’d managed to put away my share of pints (as well as a few other people’s shares) of Guinness and Allsop’s Cream Stout, so we decided to go back to the hotel and call it a night, me feeling very saucy from the stout.
We were laughing and joking as we start walking back towards the Coloseum to catch the metro. Now, let me set the scene for you – the road that goes around the Palazzo Venezia is very wide, enough for several cars. During the day, it’s very crowded with traffic and very dangerous. But late at night, with no cars, it’s wiiiiiiide open. So we’re walking across it holding hands and this idiot on a Vespa approaches the Palazzo. There were no other cars and no other pedestrians in the street. Yet, for some reason, this guy decides that instead of switching to one of the other 5 unoccupied lanes, I should get out of his way. He even goes so far as to drive straight at us and stop suddenly right in front of us, giving us a dirty look. I’m watching him the whole way thinking, “What’s this idiot doing? Is he trying to hit us?” As I’m watching this all unfold, I suddenly start feeling very snarky. So I’m looking at the guy as we keep walking and saying something like “Yeah that’s right dude, you’d better stop. You got all this room, you don’t need to raise up on me. Go ahead and drive around me”. He drives off still looking back at us with a dirty look, which really gets to me so I start jawing at him, throwing all kinds of tough guy clichés at him like “Yeah, you feeling froggy? Go ahead and jump!” and “Got sumpin’ for me? C’mon back here with your faggy little motor scooter, tough guy!”.
It was admittedly not my finest moment.
So while this display of machismo was happening, Virginia is grabbing my arm, trying to get me to shut up because she’s scared of me getting in a fight in Rome in the middle of the night. She’s yelling at me to just keep walking but it was too late; the gauntlet had been thrown down and this aggression could not stand. As it turned out, the guy stopped, then when he saw I wasn’t backing down, yelled a few Italian obscenities at me and drove away. I was a bit relieved that I didn’t have to fight, as the stout had compromised my equilibrium a bit – little did I know that the real fight was about to come. By now, Virginia is extremely upset with me for the gross display of male bravado that she was forced to witness. She decides to subject me to the silent treatment that women are so adept at. I still had enough left over testosterone coursing through my veins that I was not going to stand for the silent treatment. So I start arguing, backing up my case with gems like “What did you expect me to do, back down to a guy on a Vespa?!”. Apparently I went too far and the tears made their inevitable appearance. By the time we got back to the hotel, she was still crying but I wasn’t backing down because I didn’t think I did anything wrong. The boiling point came when she decided to storm out of the room. Now, back in Caldogno, this would have been acceptable. But our hotel was near the train station, which is one of the more seedy areas of Rome, so I would not allow it. I stopped her from going out the door and said, “OK, this has gone far enough, there’s no way you’re going out in this area at this time of night by yourself. She got into bed, we went to sleep and in the morning, we apologized to each other for being stupid and made up over cannoli.
To this day, we still laugh about the incident. And no matter what, I still don’t think I was wrong. Just don’t tell that to Virginia…