Was all this text said among the other direct text messages in her Instagram inbox.
It was six o'clock on a Saturday morning. And like any other social media crazed addict, Alaina starts her morning ritual injecting Instagram while still laying in bed. There is not much else to be concerned with, as the world is on lockdown. No school runs, no morning commutes (all be it being a Saturday) and no other half making pillow talk. She replies to the messages from her favourite people, comments on, likes the posts she missed overnight and drops a quick response to the funny stories. Like so many of the lonesome hellos before this one, she ignored it.
The same sender had liked a few of her photos. Still, she ignored. She was conscientious about whom she spoke with privately on social media. Besides, she was quite the pragmatist when it came to relationships.
But if nothing else he was tenacious.
As later on, the same sender had gone on to like all her selfies. Of the five hundred and forty photos Alaina had posted, ninety-seven of those were selfies, and he dropped a red heart on every single one of them. This person at least required the social media courtesy of a response. And so she decided to like a few of his posts but only then realised it was a private account.
'Hmmm.' She thought.
Her focus now on his profile photo, his inescapable eyes with his infectious smile, caught her attention. His hair, dark and wet. His shirtless tanned broad shoulders contrasted with the blue in the middle of the ocean. He looked to be about twenty-five years old. Heart eyed, she pondered why this very comely young man was so tenacious in his pursuit of her. Without question, he deserved a reply.
With nervous fingers, she typed 'Hi!'
Unsure of what else to say, she paused, deleted her response and re-read the earlier message. It had not changed. It was an uncomplicated short and sweet,
And so, a simple
was her reply.
No sooner had Alaina's reply landed than his profile lit up with the green dot, and he was typing. Seconds, and only seconds passed, but it felt like minutes to Alaina before the response landed back in her inbox.
'Ping' and three ''Smiley face with hearts" emojis dropped in her inbox.
'Ping' and two "Shy face'' emojis dropped in her inbox.
'Ping' and one ''I can't believe what I am seeing'' emoji drops in her inbox.
Although not one for using emojis herself as she had often felt they were best suited to the generation z brigade, she had learned a few things from her 'in the know' teenagers. Notwithstanding, she sensed the kick and intoxication in his response, and she smiled to herself.
"Soy de Argentina"
"Espero me entiendas"
Alaina bolts upright in bed, her face replicating the astonished face emoji.
She took a look back at his profile, the one she had no interest in moments before. His photo had occupied her attention, and now it was his name.
She had always liked the name ever since she'd come across it via a fashion brand. It helped that she loved their clothing. What's more, she felt the name had an air of authority surrounding it.
Where had she come across that name before? Instantaneously, she remembered. One of her University girlfriends' boyfriend's surname was Baresi. Both were from Italy but met at University in England. He always joked that had they crossed paths in Italy; he would never had noticed her, which often made Alaina shake her head at them. For some years after finishing their studies, they continued dating. The last Alaina knew, Baresi had emigrated to Argentina.
On that memory she revisited the photo.
Could they be related? What are the chances? She thought.
She sat back on her left arm, right hand on her forehead, supported by her right knee and stared at the white bedsheets.
Massimo Baresi. Now that is one sexually attractive name, if ever she had heard one—his biography written in full English.
An Italian name, lives in a Spanish speaking country with a biography written in English but didn't speak English. Interesting is what she thought.
Alaina locked her phone screen, got out of bed and walked to the kitchen. She reached for the handle of her favourite coffee mug, the one that says 'Raffles Singapore Hotel' and stared at it as if the explanation was there.
What had she missed?
Thus far she had understood every word Mr Argentina had written. And immediately she was grateful for deciding to choose Spanish as part of her study curriculum from secondary school thru to University although University was some twenty years ago.
Alaina had always loved languages and the semantics of them. With that, she took up learning Mandarin and German in the lockdown. Jokingly Alaina thought of adding Spanish to the list. She then became concerned that she may not be able to communicate with Mr Argentina, who until six am that morning was a virtual unknown.
There was a battlefield in her head. On one side, the battle raged for her to stay away from men on social media whose accounts were private. On the other hand, the war surged for her to tear up the rule book and see where the conversation with Mr alluring with no common language, seven thousand miles and four-time zones between them would lead.
Alaina had since made her coffee and drank it. Now, she was placing the ingredients for a cheesecake into the cake mixer.
Some four hours had passed since the last message. Alaina concluded she had to draw a line under the situation. She picked up her phone and started typing,
''No Hablo Espanol...''
in response to his message. Alaina was just about to click on the Send button when an impulsive thought change her mind. 'What the heck?' she thought. She decided to tear up the rule book and throw out the excel spreadsheets on this one.
And instead typed
''Hablo un poco de Espanol."
And her screen lit up once more with those yellow smiley face emojis with three hearts. Followed by
'Mucho gusto!' (Nice to meet you)
Alaina laughed to herself and thought, infatuated or what? She herself was swooning, but someone needed to remain grounded in the current situation. After all, they'd only written about six sentences between each other, if that many.
And then he wrote
'Tu eres una morena muy hermosa!'
Not muy bonita (pretty)
Not muy linda (cute)
But muy hermosa (gorgeous)
'Tu eres una morena muy hermosa!' (You're a gorgeous brunette!)
'Flattery is going to get this young man everywhere!' Alaina said audibly. He says ALL the right things. Well at least, those words sounded like all the right things she'd want to read first thing out of bed on a Saturday morning.
Her eyes lit up with mischief, as she bit on the corner of her lower left lip and typed.
'Muchas Gracias Massimo'
(Thank you very much Massimo)
'Encantado de conocerte'
(Pleased to meet you)
'Tu tambien eres muy guapo'
(You are very handsome also)
'Sii Muchas Gracias' he responded.
At least he was not shy about it, Alaina thought. The conversation went on seamlessly, where he exchanged information about himself—sharing everything from being born in Italy to an Italian father and Argentinian mother who met at University in England. His mother took a job with a investment bank, and they relocated to Argentina when he was nine years old. After his studies, he joined the army and he too now works in banking.
Alaina glanced back at his profile photo where all but his and head shoulders were submerged underwater and satisfied herself that yes, that body had been in thru military training.
Massimo continued typing.
He is single, no kids. He loves sports, especially water sports, swimming and surfing. He loves sunsets, travel and walks on the beach. He backs that up by sharing one of the said sunsets with Alaina. But this was no ordinary sunset.
It was now midday, and for the first time since six o'clock that morning, Alaina had another photo of him. She placed the phone on the kitchen table and clicked on the picture to enlarge it. Once more, she sat back, right arm across her torso, left hand cupping her mouth, eyes in disbelief. Alaina was trembling, literally.
He stood in the fore corner of the photo on the beach in an open hoodie, surfer board torso exposed and his chiselled face looking out to the sunset over the ocean. Michaelangelo had not seen this body before he sculpted David. Because if he had, wars would have fought over the sculpture. Massimo continued typing, but Alaina frankly could not remove her eyes from the photo.
She finally reverted to the conversation where he had just noted he was thirty years old. And she was relieved. Relieved to find out there was only sixteen years between them and not the twenty years she had initially thought.
'Are you single?' He asked.
And for the first time in a long time, she was pleased to be divorced and single.
'Where are you from?'
'Do you have kids?'
'How old are you?'
Alaina replied. 'She is single.'
And Massimo responded with multiple question marks.
The conversation paused as Alaina pondered how best to respond. On the one hand, she could interpret the question marks as a compliment; that is, how are you single? On the other...
She decided she'd concentrate on the complimentary interpretation and reiterated she was single. Had previously been married, has two kids but now divorced.
She was about to type her age and stopped herself, concerned that this might be a deal-breaker. Suddenly she wanted to be years younger. Suddenly she wanted to be in her twenties and carefree.
The hesitation continued. Alaina looked away from her screen. Her eyes landed on the cake mixer and the cheesecake mix she had started earlier that morning. She had never lied about her age, but for some unknown reason, neither was she ready to disclose it. Had they been sat in a coffee shop somewhere, this situation would surely become one of those moments of awkward silence, Alaina thought.
As if by intuition, he wrote:
'Me gustaste desde la primera foto que vi de ti, no te faltare al respeto.'
(I liked you from the very first photo I saw of you, I won't disrespect you.)
'Oh my gawwd!' This one is definitely a keeper! She exclaimed.