Fabio took me out on a lunch date. Well, my husband went with us. It’s true. And also not nearly as weird as that sounds.
Many of my friends giggled over this. It’s certainly not one of those things you hear about every day. Never had I owned a calendar or book with his likeness on it, and never in my life had I read a romance novel. Still haven’t (well, a little bit of romance can be a good thing, when done right). I just don’t roll that way. But I am here to set the record straight. There’s more to Fabio, the king of romance, than people think, and probably very few people besides me will ever know. The big man with big hair and a very big group of admirers had not a bit of pull with me until I learned his secret: he’s actually a very kind, very real person, and a handsome one at that, once you look past the cover model and the silliness that surrounds the hype.
I know this because I’ve met him and spent hours talking with him.
How did this happen? I won an award for — guess what? — an essay. The contest was sponsored by Lipton Foods, who carried Fabio as a spokesmodel of sorts in their “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” campaign. My essay, a 300-word piece, actually had nothing at all to do with Mr. Hair but had everything to do with “why my significant other is more romantic than Fabio”. I am not making this up: it was the subject of the essay. Lipton foods flew my husband and me, plus ten other finalists and their significant others, out to Los Angeles, where we were given gorgeous diamond tennis bracelets on live TV and waited to see who would win the big prize.
I won, which means I got to keep the enormous 2-carat diamond white gold ring, patterned after the sapphire ring Princess Diana owned. This also meant that I appeared on a few talk shows and news programs, and was one of two star attractions at a wonderful dinner with Fabio, object of desire of women everywhere (and, no doubt, a few men). My husband got more attention from me, because, frankly, Fabio was being something of a jerk. Why? People were falling all over him, fawning over him, and generally making enormous asses of themselves.
Fabio and me, circa 1998. His hair is so much better than mine.
Initially, I was not impressed with my newest celebrity friend. He talked about himself non-stop, asked few questions about me and my husband, and t0ld some rather ribald jokes, for which I chided him. Quite soundly, and without humor, I should add, as I don’t do “diplomacy” very well. That’s what I think changed everything; I don’t think he was used to that. It seemed to amuse him and surprise him equally. From there on, he shed some of the L.A. mask that seemed to hang about everyone in the town, and we were able to see a very different person.
I’m here to tell you that Fabio is actually a very nice guy. He’s insightful, sweet, and, I suspect, more likely to care what other people are about than what they think about him.
After a day of being powdered, chauffeured around, and reminded of my gratitude to Lipton foods, I was treated to lunch by Fabio, the Very Nice Guy. Guess where he wanted to go? Not a fancy downtown eatery… we stopped at a sweet burger joint with a view of everything, and where we were the only patrons, and we ordered as much fattening junk as we could stomach. We laughed, I told stories about teaching, and my hubby and I listened to Fabio’s adventures with motorbikes and sea diving.
I was, frankly, sorry to see him leave. After two days of craziness, we had finally “met” the man with whom I’d been appearing all over the country on televisions and in newspapers. I liked this guy, much better than the dude who made adult women swoon and screech as he flipped his bleached hair out of his eyes. As we dropped him off at his home, Fabio leaned in, gave me a hug and a kiss on the cheek and instructed my husband, “Take care of her. She’s a special woman.”
At that point, I understood that Fabio really is the king of romance, and not for the reason everyone assumes. He’s a gentleman and a sweetheart, just the sort of person any woman could love. He still can’t hold a candle to my husband, who, after all, was the knight who rode on a horse into the school where we taught, dressed in full armor, to propose to me in front of the entire student body. But Fabio’s a smart guy. I’m sure he picked up some ideas.