A few years ago, I met a man from Milan at a social function. Giovanni was his name. He was part of a corporate exchange program.
He lived in a hotel suite paid for by his employer. Giovanni spoke just enough English to function at work. While he had the use of a car, he didn’t want to spend weekends wandering tourist spots alone. He confided he was lonely. I was sympathetic, having remembered how alone and lost I felt when I first arrived in the States.
I put together a dinner party and invited my most “social” friends, hoping to cheer him up. One of those friends was a lovely, vivacious divorcee considerably older than Giovanni.
We had a great time, ate Italian food and drank California wine. I felt good about the evening. Giovanni was smiling when he left. Mission accomplished.
Imagine my surprise when a few evenings later I received a call from Ruth, my vivacious friend. From the background noise, it sounded as if she was at a party. She asked me to translate an Italian word for her. The word was rude slang for a female anatomical part. Shocked and not a little embarrassed, I blushed and stuttered to explain the word over the phone.
“Ruth,” I asked, “where did you hear this word?”
She laughed. “Giovanni keeps saying it to me.”
What? She completely mispronounced Giovanni’s name, but that wasn’t the reason I was so upset. I found myself whispering, “He is married.”
“Sooo? I don’t see any wife here.”
I hung up. What had I done? In the following weeks it became apparent they were having an affair. Ruth brought him to all the social events and introduced him around as her very special friend. He had the nerve to phone me and try to justify his actions.
Out of the blue, Giovanni’s wife came to visit him, probably because the poor darling told her how lonely he was and how much he missed her. She sent me a lovely handwritten letter thanking me for being a true friend to Giovanni, inviting him to many home cooked meals and listening to his homesick ramblings.
He only had dinner at my place that one time. Next I received a call from Giovanni. He asked me to invite his wife to dinner since she was under the impression I was a fast friend of the family. Of course, he also asked me not to mention my friend Ruth.
I did it, not for the sake of Giovanni the snake, but because I didn’t want to see the sweet but clueless wife hurt.
The day before my dinner, life threw him a curve. YES!!! He’d gotten in the habit of not wearing his wedding ring when he went out with Ruth. Now that he needed it, he couldn’t find it. It had been left in his hotel room, and was most likely stolen.
I avoided phone calls from the two cheaters as they scrambled about consulting clairvoyants, private detectives and anyone else they could think of¾anyone but the hotel management, that is.
Instead of having Giovanni and his wife to dinner at my place, I took them out to a Mexican restaurant. The mariachi band was live and loud. Consequently, conversation was kept at a minimum. He was NOT wearing his wedding ring, and his wife did NOT look too happy.
The next morning I left on a business trip. When I came home, Giovanni’s wife had returned to Milan. So had Giovanni. I haven’t seen much of Ruth lately, and that’s just fine with me.
“Monogamy is the Western custom of one wife and hardly any mistresses.” H. H. Munro.