Illustration by Kamena Dimitrova


Short story by Michele Ponte

Translated from Italian into English by Diana Nikolova


The old lady shared with her grandson that she could hardly wait to take the man from the other side of the street to bed. The shocked grandson started tapping his fingers on the wheel to isolate himself from the environment while his grandma decided to explain to him the basic principles of pick up strategies for people of her age:

  • Rule number one – try to spit as little as possible and keep your denture tightly fixed,
  • Rule number two – deliberately avoid any talks about the future,
  • Rule number three – say how sweet his grandchildren are only if they really are sweet.

‘As for the rest, you should make some sexual suggestions’, his grandmother went on explaining, ‘just like young people do nowadays’. And with plenty of jokes because life is short without jokes, and jokes back in her time for that matter were more or less the same as they are now. A drop of water on his trousers may provoke a comment like: ‘Оh, you are wet already!’ etc.

The grandson was trying really hard to focus on driving, on the traffic lights, the pedestrians, who cross the street even if there is no zebra crossing but after a while he had to stop and take a deep breath.

‘Grandma, please, let’s change the subject.’

‘Great’, his grandmother said, ‘the change of subject is pivotal.’

She told him that at a certain age one starts to get easily bored and after you have discussed the weather and the neighbour’s dog for about a minute, you have to jump to another topic very quickly.

‘It’s pivotal’, she repeated.

On the other hand, when you are with the other old ladies, you could spend the day commenting the great bum of the young man at the end of the street. However, if you are with a man, you should not risk boring him. It is hard enough to find a man who is still good at something at that age and women would be queueing up for him anyway. Actually, there are pretty long queues considering that most women outlive their husbands. The slightest mistake you make could be the end of it – some other woman will immediately show up at his door.

‘Grandma,’ the grandson lost his patience, ‘why don’t you tell me how you used to work in the fields in the old days, or something similar?’

‘Let me finish, my boy. You, young things, always in a hurry.’

His grandmother continued to explain that a candlelit dinner was a waste of time. At the end of the day, you may both be tired in the evening, running on low energy. It was much better to invite your crush to an informal lunch at a place, full of people, where nobody can even imagine two oldies ready to jump on each other as teenagers on a first date. Then it was like you two became wrapped in some kind of a bubble. And it is precisely the fact that nobody imagines or dares to imagine what is about happen that makes the two of you even hotter.

‘Grandma, about...’

‘Keep quiet now, these things will come very handy in the future.’

His grandmother told him that just before leaving the restaurant you need to take care of one more thing. A tiny detail but very important. After you have made sure that the man is still good for sex (usually it is enough to give him the once over), you have to ask him if he has any heart problems. If the answer is no, you have to make him leave the table for a moment and drop a Viagra in his glass.

‘Are you done, grandma?’

‘No, but I am quite excited. Help me get off the car because I am going to check out the man on the other side of the street.’