Falling hopelessly in love is described in the Arabic as basbasa – literally ‘to make sheep’s eyes.’ Why sheep’s eyes are associated with amorous glances is unclear. As an elderly gentleman from Damascus put it, “It means to look at someone…illegally. In a way designed to cause trouble, to make people talk.”
The Italians say fare il filo a qualcuno – literally, ‘to do the string to someone’, this phrase means “to check someone out” or “to have your eye on someone.” Quite different from what “stringing someone along” means in English!
In Yiddish it is bashert – it is the word for the idea of two hearts that were meant to meet, it is fated.
The Romanians say mi-a ramas sufletul la tine – This very romantic Romanian phrase means, “my soul has remained with you,” or “my soul is with you”, to describe the feeling of falling in love. I love that one.
I like men. I like the way they smell. I like the way they think - solution over debate, facts over speculation. I like the hair on their bodies in places that can keep a skinny woman warm. I like the way they like women. I like the way they can talk with their eyes even if they can’t dance. I like the way they laugh. I like the way they continue to make me feel sexy and desirable, even though I am now a woman of a certain age – I appreciate that chaps - I thought it would be all over by now. I love flirting and I appreciate a man who does it well. I like a man of few words and I like a man who can engage in conversation as a blood sport. I like men who send flowers, and I like men who send planes. I like men who are warriors, and I like men who are poets and philosophers. I love a man who loves his wife/girlfriend/fiancée’ and talks about it – nothing sexier. I love men who love children and animals. I appreciate a man who can sing or dance or both, but I love a man who loves opera.
I really like sex, I do. I like the entire package – the pre-foreplay where your chemistry sends out feelers to his chemistry, and the pheromones decide that in spite of the fact that he does not have just the right physical requirements that you list as necessary or preferable, or in spite of the fact he does – something in the mix is right and dance of feints and passes begins.
The Italians use several different ways to get across the idea of sex, and, as in English, the euphemisms have various degrees of offensiveness. To scopare means “to sweep” (the broom is implied in the verb and associated with another tool). Trombare, “to play the trumpet”, is another, and ciulare, “to swipe”, is a third. An especially impolite version is abbiamo trombato come ricci: where the English do this “like rabbits/bunnies”, the Italian animal is the hedgehog – making one think that the passion must be more intense to overcome that animal’s natural defenses.
The French, as usual when it comes to these matters win the word game for me – s’envoyer en l’air is literally “to send yourself up in the air”.
I love that first kiss where you fall into it – gently at first, then questioning, then giving answer to the question asked with your whole being.
I love the physical manifestation: the sweet early morning kind, the hot and sweaty kind, the tearing off your clothes kind, the it’s a gift kind, the pool table kind (personal history), the I’m too tired but its too good to pass up kind, the oh sure I’ll try that once kind, the turning over the furniture kind, the could you excuse us kind, the let’s make a baby kind, and the you are my greatest life’s happiness kind. . I like the power play of who can make the other sigh and be unable to move for an undetermined length of time. I like the exhaustion and energy that come after. No massage in the world can provide the kind of relaxation that comes in the afterglow, and that desire to sing is beyond explanation eh?
Even when you don’t love your partner it’s good, and if you do love them it can be incandescent. It is the most personal kind of communication if you do it right.
The Spanish, a bit over the top as usual when it comes to matters of the heart, cry abrasarse vivo! This expression literally means “burn with passion”. Jean de La Fontaine, the cool, satirical seventeenth-century French writer of fables, mentions a Spanish story he tremendously admired where a young man, in order to get to embrace his woman, burns down the house and carries her out through the flames, making it literally a story of “burning passion”, as well as arson.
Ha’ mouro na costa – “There’s a Moor on the coast!” Obviously a cry of warning – the Moors first invaded Portugal in 711 C.E. and occupied Lisbon and the rest of the country until well into the twelfth century – but no longer of actual Moors. This is exclaimed when someone is in danger of losing their heart.
And to give the French the last word, as is only proper when it comes to matters of the heart, or the libido – a great mystery revealed: the phrase, rouler un patin, is how the French say “to French-kiss”! Literally translated, Je lui ai roule’ un patin means “I rolled a skate to him”.
Why am I on this topic? Well… it could be the fabulous massage with the oil that smelled like musk and sandalwood in a warm and slightly steamy room I had yesterday, or it could be I’m thinking over a proposition I’ve had recently…. Sigh.. I’m just thinking..
*credit to Erin McKean’s “That’s Amore!” for facts on international expressions of love.