Just say YES!


In a bid to start saying YES to life more, I decided I would literally start saying YES to everything that comes my way. Now while this is a great sentiment, some of my recent experiences make me think that perhaps there needs to be some sort of filter on the circumstances you say yes to. Saying yes is a great attitude to life, but so is moderation...

The first day that I decided I would start saying yes to everything, began innocently enough with a walk. It was raining quite heavily out, but part of my role is walking 30mins into Porta Romana to collect the 9year old from the school bus, now I could catch the bus down, but made a promise myself that I would always walk unless I really really couldn't - i.e. unless it was icy, snowing or I was running late for some reason. So I took out my rainbow coloured umbrella and began on my merry way. Now even though it was raining, I was in particularly great spirits - being the first time that I had got to really use this umbrella, and just had that good bubbly feeling inside after deciding that I was going to start saying YES to everything in life. Whilst thinking all of this, and merrily twirling my umbrella in the rain, a car pulls up and a gentleman speaks to me in Italian - I grasp 'do you want a ride?' Now... let's pause this scene for a second. This is the scene we are all warned of as children - NEVER under any circumstances get in a car with a stranger!

 As this thought went through my head, along with the 'you promised to say yes to everything' thought; cars were starting to back up behind - as it is a typical narrow Italian road, and I panicked not knowing how to say 'no' (well actually it is just 'no'); so said "grazie" and in I got...

While sitting there we exchanged a few mixed words of Italian and English, and my inner voice was just tut tutting away, saying 'my god, if your father knew what you were doing'. Now it all ended as innocently as it began, he simply dropped me off at the bottom of the hill in Porta Romana, so it really was a sweet gesture. Having lived in London, this is definitely not something I would have done, but it did seem genuine. Then the thought popped into my mind, that while this could be a very dangerous situation - is it also not sad, that genuine acts of kindness are rare or could be tainted with danger, that we immediately question everything?... Any hoo, no harm done, but I still think maybe I should rethink this whole YES situation.

The next episode lends itself to a more interesting scenario... Upon walking home one night again with that bubbly fizzy happy feeling inside as life has just been falling into place recently; I walk past a restaurant near our house that I glance into, as it looks very nice and I keep meaning to stop and look at the menu. As I do this, an older gentleman says "buonasera" then "vieni a mangiare" (are you coming in to eat - my Italian basic is getting there), I respond in broken Italian that I am going to eat at my house; he introduces himself and we chat for a bit as he is walking my way. I say that I will go to that restaurant one night for dinner, he says "well when shall we?" - hmmm here we go again - just say YES?... Oh I said older gentleman, did I mention he was in his 70's?.. So being good spirited I said sure, how about Wednesday, he said "ok, what time", "8pm?", we agree and as I walk away I realized I now have a date with a 60 or 70 something Italian man... But surely it is not a date right, he is just being friendly, he could be very interesting. 

Anyway, the week goes by and it gets to Wednesday and I have a really busy day with the children - lunch, tennis, choir... so we are out all day. The mother picks us up and we drive home; on the way we realize we need bread, so we stop outside the restaurant that I met the old man outside of as it also doubles as a shop, I glance inside and there is my new friend Gino standing waiting. Shit. I completely forgot...what is the time? 7:50pm. Double shit. It is at this point that I completely panic,  it all seemed in good fun the other night, and I even thought - wow I am really grasping life by the horns here by saying yes to everything!! But now reality sets in, what if he really thinks it is like a date? How do I explain to the mother of 4 children that I have only known for one month that I have agreed to meet this strange man for dinner - under what context is this actually appropriate?? None, under no circumstance would these be deemed as socially acceptable behaviour...

I build the courage and say to Francesca that I met this man, and agreed to have dinner with him here - as I don't believe in chance meetings, believe in the good in everyone, blah blah blah. She says it is fine with her, though I can see behind her eyes that she is trying to process this, and work out why on earth I would want to do this - she is probably also questioning my sanity, as she has only known me for one month, and in that time I haven't had a chance to make any new friends or meet anyone my own age.. perhaps she thinks this is my type... oh god!!

After a while she says, go if you like, but maybe have a back-up plan, just in case. I decide that I will go in, tell him I have to look after the children and can only stay for a coffee; at least this way, I keep my word, I have said YES, and can assess the situation... So I go in; it is a beautiful restaurant (Francesca has told me it is very expensive - not a good start to a 'non-date'), the staff all greet us (it turns out he is there almost every day), AND we are the only ones in there.... Oh god. The coffee option was a very good option I am thinking...

I explain that I have to look after the children at night and stay for a coffee, we chat a little, and I immediately try to bring up children? Yes, he has 4 children, but "no wife" as he adds far too quickly for my liking (this response tells me this may have been close to being viewed as a date). He tells me it is a shame that I cannot stay, as the chef was preparing something special and he had a beautiful 150euro bottle of wine chosen out... quick quick quick, finish your coffee Tash! 

I finish the coffee, and say I really must go and apologise for not being able to stay. He gives me his number and said to call him when I am free, and we can even go out of Florence if I like. My inner voice is laughing at me, and says - "go on, say yes to this offer"... I take the number, say "Ciao buonasera"; and make my escape. Ok, so that was a pretty funny scenario, and so so so glad I took the coffee option. While it could have been innocent enough, I don't know how I would feel about someone spending 200euro on dinner for me - for no reason? (the comment that Linda made in my earlier Italian adventures about no Italian men doing 'something for nothing' pops into mind). Would my inner voice have kicked in at the end of the evening when he lent in to kiss me and said "come on Tash, you said say YES..." I mean I have always joked about getting a sugar daddy... But no, this is where this story can stay for now. 

Though my love life is typically tragic - and even though all my girlfriends keep asking me about love prospects -  unfortunately besides my coffee shop man Stefano, who is lovely, but I am not interested in him like that.. this is the most interaction I have had with a man in Florence. Maybe my experience here will be purely children, and self-reflection based... (I am quietly hoping this is not the case, as with any girl, the thought of a romance in Florence is such a dreamy ideal thought...*sigh* but I think late 30s is the highest age bracket I am willing to go...)

So that was scenario two of the saying YES; which bizzarely enough leads me to scenario 3 of this episode. Again, walking from our house down to Porta Romana, a car stops beside me and the gentleman (maybe late 40s) asks me in Italian where Porta Romana is; I try to explain in broken Italian then say "Parle Englese", "yes" he replies, then he adds "do you need a ride?" Again there is a little chuckle from my inner voice - really, again? It doesn't take me long too decide that while I said I would say yes to everything - I have already said yes to this scenario - it was harmless enough, but I don't want to push the limits... so I say "thank you, but it is a lovely day (this was true), so I am happy to walk". He replies, "sorry I'm not strange, I am Johnny I work in the restaurant you came into the other night". Oh great. 'not strange Johnny' clearly thinks that old men are my type and is now trying his luck... Again I say thank you but I am fine. He says "no problem, see you when you come in for dinner with Gino" - "yea sure" I reply, knowing full well, this is NOT going to happen.

So this is my short tale of me saying YES to life. There are a lot of smaller moments in there, and on the whole it has been a fun way to live life; it did lead me to saying yes to a play-date with another nanny even though I was extremely tired and really couldn't be bothered, and we ended up having a great night enjoying some wine in a gorgeous restaurant which is now one of my faves. But as I said earlier, I think I need to apply a slight filter to the scenarios in which I say YES. I am not disregarding the sentiment though, as I think on the whole it makes life more interesting, and if nothing else, there is a good story to tell some girlfriends over wine - "so I had a date with a 70yr old last night..." not your typical conversation starter, but it is surely bound to set the tone for the rest of the evening of giggles and laughing about men.

I challenge anyone else out there to try this for a week, and see what happens!

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