Updated: Sep 5, 2022
He could be Italian or Greek, with wavy soft hair and an aquiline nose. His dark eyes were like two petroleum reservoirs staring into my soul; his thin lips formed a downward curve that was giving his face an expression of veiled discontent, nevertheless, mysterious and sexy. He liked the outdoors and hiking, his many pictures proved it: he crossed the Pyrenees and the Alps with 20,000 friends (everyone has their quirks), on one picture he groomed an elephant, then rode it like a horse; he was an odd guy and I immediately liked him. His name was Hannibal.
I went back to see his Tinder description: “the greatest general after Alexander and Pyrrhus. 1.73 m”. I don’t like guys that try to look bigger than they are, but I had the feeling that Hannibal wasn’t faking it. He definitely looked like there was more to him than his charming Carthaginian looks, even though he communicated in stupid gifs like there weren’t enough words in his vocabulary. We arranged a date and met the next night.
Hannibal kept ordering wine, the social lubricant that kept the conversation flowing, and little by little I started losing touch with reality. Hannibal excitedly recounted the battles of Trebia and Lake Trasimene but failed to mention anything about Zama.
“There will be time,” he said. “Do you want anything else to drink?”
“Will you walk me home?” I asked sleepily. “We’ll say goodbye at the door.”
Hannibal agreed, and though he seemed more sober than myself he couldn’t walk in a straight line and kept bumping into me, as if consciously.
“Do you celebrate Saturnalia in Carthage?” I asked Hannibal. It was that time of the year.
“Come on, we are not Romans. And by the way, never mention them when I’m around.” Hannibal’s response was automatic, indignant.
“Oh, er, I’m sorry, I didn’t know. Or did I?” I hiccuped drunkenly between the words.
“It’s okay,” Hannibal softened for a moment. “It’s just something I promised to my father. I stick to my promises.”
We stopped in front of my house and looked lovingly into each other’s eyes. Suddenly, the leaves on a nearby tree rustled, and a giant panther with sleek black fur jumped on a Jaguar parked behind me. Hannibal, with his lightning reflexes, jerked backward and threw a javelin (how didn't I notice a fricking javelin?) that pierced the panther’s heart, then gave me a long, passionate kiss, patted me on the butt, and left.
The next day I tried to find him among my Tinder matches, but he wasn’t there, which gave me certain doubts: did this date happen, or was I simply drinking alone? Ever since that day, every time I go to F-Hoone I see the waiters smirking at me, or my eyes may be playing tricks on me. The truth is, I never saw Hannibal again. Hannibal, if you are reading this text, you have my number.
A marble bust, reputedly of Hannibal,
originally found at the ancient city-state of Capua in Italy