Compañeros de Piso


So, I have two flatmates; both guys, both 24 year old students. On paper it sounds nightmarish. The lying landlady told me that a Spanish girl who is not a student is moving in. Two weeks later and she hasn’t appeared, so it’s just me and the chicos.

At first it was just Mario and I, as Paco was away for Easter (better change names, though I doubt they’ll be reading this). Mario is Sicilian, and when I first arrived he talked to me so much that it delayed my unpacking by about 40 minutes. Despite being warned by a friend that Italian men would expect me to clean up after them, I decide to share a bathroom with Mario, rather than the Spanish guy whom I had not yet met.  When looking for space to stash my  stuff in the shower, I start to wonder about Sicilian gender roles when I see that Mario has more products in the bathroom than I do. I try not to think about where he uses the Nair hair removal cream that hangs in a carrier bag in the shower…

On the first night we go for cañas in the buzzing La Latina, the barrio we live in. As it’s just the two of, I buy the second beer. “In Sicily, it is very hard for a man to let a woman do this,” Mario informs me. “One of the downsides of feminism,” I reply. “In theory I should I also hold the door open for you, but I’m not going that far!” So he uses Nair in the shower, but finds it hard to let me buy him a €1 caña? Hmm, Italians. The evening passes easily in a rounds of story-telling and laughter, and I find it hard to believe that this morning I did not even know this guy. I am relieved that he is not the problem flatmate that the lying landlady had implied him to be.

The next day, Mario is cooking pasta with tuna and offers me some. Who am I to refuse pasta from an Italian? When I sit down I see enough pasta on my plate to feed a baby elephant. Of course, having other Italian friends, I expected this, but I am relieved when Mario has to leave early for football: “Just leave what you can’t eat and I’ll eat it later.” God forbid that an Italian should let pasta go to waste! Plus, he’s a student, and I’m pretty sure we ate whatever was on the go back then, too. “Do not wash ANYTHING!” he adds as he leaves, “I will do it when I come home.” So, he cooks a lot of pasta: one point for the stereotype. When he arrives home later, he does all the washing up: one point against.

After several 3am bedtimes, I decline Mario’s offer to go out again, and have an early night instead. I am woken at 6am by laughter as Dani and his friend arrive home. I get back under the duvet and reach for my earplugs. Before I have the chance to push them into my ears, I hear the sound of a girl enjoying herself in Mario’s room next door. REALLY enjoying herself. I may not always act my age, but I’m not teenage enough to be disgusted by people shagging in the next room. What I find slightly objectionable is that Mario’s girlfriend, whose photos are plastered all over his room, is in Italy. I do not see him until early afternoon the next day, when his sheets are in the washing machine. So, he cooks, he cleans, he struggles to let a girl buy him a drink, but he is an Italian stallion after all. A few days later, I recall that I didn’t hear Mario; I only heard a girl’s sighs. Maybe it was porn. Who knows? Who cares?

I can’t help but enjoy living with Mario.


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