You shouldn’t pay any attention to what she says,” Kendra says firmly, nodding at Elisa sprawled out on the terrace chair. “She’s just a nasty bitch. Ignore her.”
Elisa hears this, as she’s meant to.
“And you,” she calls to Kendra, swiveling on her chair to face inside the dining room, “you think you are so pretty, so beautiful, because all the boys want you. Well, they only want you because you are different. They think you are esotica. Exotic.”
Kendra looks as if Elisa just slapped her in the face, and Paige draws in her breath sharply.
“Are you kidding me?” Paige snaps at Elisa. “What did you just call her?”
Her hands clenched into fists, Paige marches around the table in Elisa’s direction; skinny Elisa flinches at the sight of 140 pounds of super-confident, sporty, protein-fed American girl heading toward her with fury in her eyes. I nip around the table from the other side and head Paige off before she backhands Elisa like Serena Williams hits a tennis ball, and sends her flying across the terrace and into the olive grove beyond. I’m not an etiquette expert, but I can’t help feeling that knocking our hostess’s daughter over a stone balcony might not be considered the most appropriate way to celebrate the first full day of our summer course.
“Paige, leave it! She’s just jealous,” I say swiftly. “Ignore her. She’s having a go at us because she’s pissed off that Luca likes foreign girls--he doesn’t want her.”
Elisa grabs her cigarettes and her phone, jumps up, and, sneering at us all, storms off the terrace, muttering, “Vaffanculo!” as she flees the wrath of Killer Barbie.
That’s right--run away. To me, “exotic” sounds nice, like a compliment: out-of-the-ordinary, glamorous, exciting. But Kendra clearly hasn’t taken it that way, nor did Paige. I want to ask them why, but it’s Kelly, of all people, who saves the moment by saying meditatively:
“You know, we should make a note of all the mean things Elisa says to us in Italian. That way, we’ll learn all the best swearwords.