Sex does not predicate love.

from Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart fiction ~2 min read

My last Roman evening started out per the usual, diary. Another halfhearted orgy at Fabrizia’s, the woman I have had relations with. I’m only mildly tired of these orgies. Like all New Yorkers, I’m a real-estate whore, and I adore these late-nineteenth-century Turinese-built apartments on the huge, palm-studded Piazza Vittorio, with sunny views of the green-tinged Alban Hills in the distance. On my last night at Fabrizia’s, the expected bunch of forty-year-olds showed up, the rich children of Cinecittà film directors who are now occasional screenwriters for the failing Rai (once Italy’s main television concern), but mostly indulgers of their parents’ fading fortunes. That’s what I admire about youngish Italians, the slow diminution of ambition, the recognition that the best is far behind them. (An Italian Whitney Houston might have sung, “I believe the parents are our future.”) We Americans can learn a lot from their graceful decline.

“I’ve always been shy around Fabrizia. I know she only likes me because I’m “diverting” and “funny” (read: Semitic), and because her bed hasn’t been warmed by a local man in some time. But now that I had sold her out to the American Restoration Authority otter, I worried that there might be repercussions for her down the line. Italy’s government is the last one left in Western Europe that still smooches our ass.

In any case, Fabrizia was all over me at the party. First she and some fat British filmmaker took turns kissing me on the eyelids. Then, as she was having one of those very angry Italian äppärät chats on the couch, she spread her legs to flash me her neon panties, her thick Mediterranean pubic hairs clearly visible. She took time out of her sexy screaming and furious typing to say to me in English: “You’ve become a lot more decadent since I’ve met you, Lenny.”

“I’m trying,” I stuttered.

“Try harder,” she said. She snapped her legs shut, which nearly killed me, and then went back to her äppärät assault. I wanted to feel those elegant forty-year-old breasts one more time. I made a few slow gyrating motions toward her and batted my eyelashes (that is to say, blinked a lot), trying, with a dose of East Coast irony, to resemble some hot Cinecittà leading lady of the 1960s. Fabrizia blinked back and stuck one hand down her panties. A few minutes later, we opened the door to her bedroom to discover her three-year-old boy hiding beneath a pillow, a cloud of smoke from the main rooms draping him twice-fold. “Fuck,” Fabrizia said, watching the small, asthmatic child crawling toward her on the bed.”

“Mama,” the child whispered. “Aiuto me.

“Katia!” she screamed. “Puttana! She supposed to watch him. Stay here, Lenny.” She went off looking for her Ukrainian nanny, her little boy stumbling through the Hollywood-grade smoke behind her.”

—Gary Shteyngart, Super Sad True Love Story, p. -1