When you say, “Hello,” I say, “Ciao.”
When you say, “Goodbye,” I say, “Ciao.”
When you say nothing, I say “ciao” repeatedly to fill the awkward silence.
Later, we make love in the forest. I whisper scores of sweet “ciaos” into your ear—a sign of my sexual generosity.
When you depart, I say, “Goodbye,” then, “just kidding. Ciao.” Then I say “ciao” again but in a low-pitched sexy voice. You are putty in my impeccably manicured hands.
Exactly two days later, we speak on the phone to make plans for dinner. As our conversation nears its end, you say, “See you later!” I say, “Ciao,” but I am unsure whether you heard it or whether you have already ended the call. This distresses me. I resolve to compensate for this deficit at our impending encounter.
As we charm one another over never-ending breadsticks, I tell you an anecdote about my Nonna. You say, “Nonna? I know you say ‘ciao’ a lot, but I didn’t realize you were actually Italian. Is she from the old country?” I confirm that she is from an old country and add that I spent a semester in Alfa Romeo. Then I swiftly change the subject to something I am infatuated with: fashion.
The description of my black Perry Ellis silk shirt takes your breath away. There is nothing left to discuss. I propose that we sit in silence and suggestively wink at each other until another opportunity arises for me to say “ciao.”
The moment arrives when I summon the waiter with four stern “ciaos” repeated in rapid-fire succession. Impressed, he garnishes upon our bill two fine red-and-white peppermint confectionaries. In keeping with European tradition, I leave him a customary five-percent gratuity followed by a bonus “ciao.” He is in such awe that he is unable to conjure his own words.
We depart through the restaurant’s automatic doors. I quickly turn to you and whisper, “Ciao.” “Goodbye already?” you ask. “No, my dear, put that ‘ciao’ in your little pocket. Save it for after we finish breakfast.” Then I ask if we can go to your place since my roommates are home. “Ciao,” you respond. This is strange as you have used the word in completely the wrong context, and also it is my word that I use.
Since you pay for the Uber, I forgive your transgression. I tell the driver “ciao.” He says, “Okay.”
In your apartment, I am elated to see that you and I use the same conditioner. My ponytail is sensitive to emollients found in certain brands. When I have a dry ponytail, I sometimes feel like an imposter when I say “ciao,” a word that, under normal circumstances, I enjoy using. Now I love you.
You say it’s moving too fast and you ask, “What else should we talk about?” And I don’t understand. I say, “Ciao,” because that is all that needs to be said. “Ciao” does all the talking for me. And in a last-ditch effort, you say, “You are the man who says ‘ciao,’ but I am a woman, and I need more than that. Capisce?”
I consider explaining that I don’t know what that word means, but I am already on my way out the door. It was never meant to be. Ciao… bella.