Sure, there’s the standard tour group of old people made practically asexual by age, sporting identical fanny packs and crisping bald spots, or the odd loner nursing a glass of spritz at the end of the bar (that’d be yours truly), but by and large, Venice is inundated with couples of the following varieties:
1) Hot-blooded Youths – Local teens from the mainland on a day trip, bringing their hormones where Mom can’t find ‘em. These kids enjoy smooching in the middle of cramped streets, streams of pedestrian traffic on either side be damned. His pants are too low and her aviators are tangled in silky blond tresses (from the smooching), but the crusty passerby gapes at this golden fulfillment of Hollywood expectations. Guaranteed not to last.
2) Asians ft. Selfie Stick – Dating, newlywed, or parents of seven – who can tell with that Asian baby face that ages so well? Impeccably coiffed, chiffon maxi skirts and chunky sandals skimming the canal waters, this pair snags a secluded spot on the vaporetti, cooing softly and sharing subtle skinship. As you hoist your 25lb pack, you resent that he carries her floppy five-ounce hat.
3) Baby-showered – Wallowing in nostalgia for the carefree backpacking tours of their early-20’s, this haggard pair trails strollers, tubes of SPF 75 sunblock, and a wailing brood of brats. At the end of the day, kids comatose from prolonged gelato-induced sugar highs, in a campo suffused with candlelight and the clink of glasses, sappy smiles are exchanged. Maybe their hands brush, a flame – lately suffocated under layers of dirty diapers – ignites but then – little Calvin has puked on Susie’s head, and all is lost to the exigencies of parenthood.
4) Hipsters on Holiday – Hailing from further up the continent or from Australia, this couple seems underwhelmed by Venice, each other, and life in general. They slouch from campo to campo, occasionally exchanging a muttered witticism. Identify this camera shy breed by their tatts, piercings, and/or e-cigarettes.
5) Second Honeymooners – She wiggles bejeweled toenails in those foamy slippers with arch support, and wants to ask for directions. His aloha shirt bulges at the belly as he forges ahead recklessly, ‘cause getting lost is for sissies. In hopes of “rekindling the magic,” they sent the kids to camp and boarded a cruise ship set for warm summer nights and Italian wine, which they order in the language of Anglophones abroad: extra-loud English. For some reason, this type is overwhelmingly American.
Does the romance of lamplight on canal waters attract lovers, or does the high volume of couples impart amore to Venice? Either way, and whatever their stripes, couples do little to ease the peculiar lump that occasionally clogs the throat when alone in the wide, wide world. Another round of spritz!