It must have been 1967, I was about eight, one of my best friends at school was Agostino, probably the only kid in the class that wasn’t from a working class family, I can’t remember what his father did, architect or some other “important” profession.
One day after school Agostino invited me to play at his home, I had never been there and I knew he had two sisters, one older and one younger, but had never met them.
When we got home the older sister was there and she immediately did all she could to annoy and tease us, the father made us some lunch while we were waiting for the mother who had gone to pick up the younger sister who was in a different school.
When Simonetta arrived I was transfixed, all of a sudden all the other people in the room ceased to exist, I think they must have thought I was a bit dumb, I couldn’t take my eyes off her and couldn’t utter a word.
After lunch Agostino and his older sister went off to play in another room since it seemed obvious that Simonetta and I weren’t paying attention to anyone else.
She had very long thick straight hair the colour of wheat at the time of harvest, bright green eyes with an oriental shape, and features of absolute perfection and harmony.
Pointless to say that I was besotted and my usually dramatic shyness reached a peak suffcient to paralyse me.
I don’t remember what we played or what we said, I only remember that at one point I was squatting on the floor, and Simonetta was standing in front of me, leaning against a large wicker chest, she was wearing black full body dancer’s tights and looking at me with the most candid expression she said: “Do you know that I am naked under this? Do you want me to show you?”
Before I could find something to say I was rescued by her mother who came in to tell us that it was nearly evening and it was time for me to go, my mum was on her way to get me.
So we started putting the toys away, side by side on our fours on the floor, “accidentally” rubbing against each other.
I was totally confounded and it took me a few days to craft a letter for Simonetta, which went through several versions, editing, correction, chiselling… until finally I found the courage to entrust Agostino with the delivery of the precious secret missive.
And then ensued a series of excruciatingly anxious days, contemplating all the most disastrous eventualities: the letter being intercepted by Simonetta’s parents, or worse, by her older sister, or being lost, or maybe even being ignored, I saw myself becoming the laughingstock of family and friends…
But then one day Simonetta’s answer came, it wasn’t as dramatically romantic as my wildest dreams would have desired, but it was nevertheless tender and sweet, full of promise for a bright loving future.
We only managed to meet briefly in the street (we lived a few blocks away) and a few weeks later the school year ended; three months lay ahead with no chances to meet, the prospective looked bleak, but nothing had prepared me for the worst to come.
One day I met Agostino and he gave me a letter from Simonetta. Their parents had divorced (in those days only actors and rich people divorced!), Agostino and her older sister were going to stay with the father while the mum was moving to Rome taking Simonetta with her, she was due to start the term in a boarding school very soon.
I was devastated, in September when I went back to school Agostino wasn’t there either, when I enquired with the teacher I was told they had moved to another area and he was in another school but no one knew which one.
All my enquiries were fruitless, and Simonetta remained forever in my mind frozen in that moment, a blonde smiling angel dressed in black standing in front of me and offering to show me her body.