Did I mention that sometimes I am a tour guide in Rome? And due to sometimes job, I have been asked and invited to do all kinds of things. Take a photo, appear in a photo, dismantle a camera, mount a tripod on a 2000 year old Corinthian column base. After tours, I’ve been invited to dine romantically with two couples or hang out and drink beers with families from cities like Ocala, Florida, Los Angeles, California, and New York City. I’ve taken sons and daughters out on the town, girlfriends, boyfriends daughters and wives out shopping. I’ve been asked to babysit (no), spend a weekend in Cannes (maybe), drive a Mercedes from Rome to Venice in 5 hours (yes)-- the general requests private tour guides field.
Basically, the private tour guide (moi) can be equivalent to the most incredible date you've ever had-- well-dressed and well-informed, focusing all attention and interest to teach, impress and often monitor you while you are happily looking at old stuff. We hope that you like us, and we hope that we like you.
When I first started giving tours, I worked for a busy agency with a name that sound like a porn film production company. On a sunny day in mid March 2004, I had my first day of work, meeting clients in the lobby of the Eden Hotel, before accompanying them to the Vatican Museums. I dressed for the occasion, sexy librarian, as my sister coined the look. Slightly nerdy, but not frumpy. Cool shoes, camouflage print skirt and well-fitting sweater. Nothing too tight or too low cut, just enough. As instructed, I informed the concierge that I was there for the Smith couple, and that I worked for aforementioned tour company. I was instructed to wait on the plush couches in the lobby for the next 10 minutes.
At that exact moment, I know what a first timer for Heidi Fleiss must have felt like, waiting in the lobby of Beverly Hills' Peninsula Hotel, asking for a guest using a pseudonym. Yes, I felt like a whore. With nothing to do, I walked upstairs to the bathroom, did a quick make up check and walked out-- definitely solidifying my look as not just a whore, but more importantly, a 9 am Coke Whore.
**Not only does my favorite concierge in the world work at the Eden, my favorite bathroom in Rome is on the mezzanine level of the Eden's lobby.
For what seemed liked three hours (probably 3 minutes), I stared at a poster of Adrien Brody for Ermenegildo Zegna. Adrien glared at me like he knew what my "business" was-- a "representative" of a company with the word Love in its name, waiting "for clients". Even Adrien thought I was a high end escort. His stare pretty much convinced me to go, and just as I was about to leave, the Couple arrived. My very well paying Vatican Museum clients-- as my boss described them, an ex-professional athlete, and his girlfriend, an “almost professional” photographer. “Take her to the most scenic areas of the Vatican. Let her show off, and let him do all the talking.”
As it turns out, he really was a former professional football player-- a tall man with broad shoulders and a broken nose. He played probably when the AFL and NFL were separate entities. She was a very voluptous brunette (of the Playboy, not Perfect 10, style) and was definitely not born before the Reagan Era. The point spread between them was at least 20 years. They both dressed extremely well and had large digital cameras. Average American tourists.
I had practiced my professional introduction the night before and finally was able to use it.
"Hi, I'm Erica, and I will be taking you to the Vatican Museums this morning. Do you have any questions before we leave?"
The ex-linebacker smiled, looked over at his girlfriend and then back at me. "Would you come to our room?"
Adrien Brody smirked an "I told you so." I grabbed my purse tight in my hands and was about to do my best Catholic girl imitation when the girlfriend continued his thought, "yeah, like, we need to get the batteries and stuff for, like, the cameras? because i am, like, almost a professional photographer? and like they are almost finished recharging? So you want to just hang out here or like come up while we get them?"
FAVORITE PLACES TO POWDER MY NOSE