NEW YORK—Veteran New York City construction worker Lonnie Barbierri may, on the exterior, seem like the tough-guy type. But as any woman who has ever strolled past a building site where he was working can attest, under that rough exterior lies a sensitive side. No matter how busy he is, Barbierri always takes time to make sure the ladies know that he is interested, available, and ready for romance. And though he remains single after countless attempts to meet that special someone, Barbierri still believes that true love is within his grasp.
"A lot of guys are afraid to make themselves vulnerable by revealing their emotions, but when I meet someone I'm interested in, I express how I feel—usually by saying something like 'Hey! You want a piece of this?'" said Barbierri, grabbing his crotch, grunting, and rhythmically thrusting his pelvis forward. "I figure you've got to put yourself out there. If you can't open up to a woman, she'll never have any way of knowing how much you want to give her the high hard one."
"Deep down, I'm just a hopeless romantic," he added.
Calling every woman special in her own way, Barbierri explained that he always tries to touch upon the individual qualities of each woman he greets. For example, if she happens to be drinking something through a straw, he'll ask if she wants something else to suck on. If she seems to be in a hurry, he'll ask where the fire is, and then subtly suggest that it may be, in fact, in his pants. And if her nipples are visibly poking through her shirt, he'll inquire if she is cold, and gallantly offer to warm those beauties up for her.
"If I see a great pair of cans, I say so," said Barbierri, working on the twelfth floor of a future condominium complex on Manhattan's Upper East Side. "Who knows? She could be the one, and if I let my shyness get in the way, I might miss out forever on the chance to meet the girl of my dreams. I don't want to go through the rest of my life wondering whether fries do come with that shake."
Despite Barbierri's disarming friendliness, personal warmth, and inviting "Sit on My Face" chest tattoo, virtually no women pedestrians are receptive to him. In fact, on the day Barbierri was interviewed, the female passersby invariably increased their pace, stared silently ahead, and avoided eye contact with the ironworker. To Barbierri's credit, he didn't let the string of rejections derail his positive outlook.
"The right girl—the one who'll one day slice me off a serving of that sweet stuff and bring it straight home to Daddy—is out there, somewhere," he said. "New York's a big town, you know? And as long as I keep yelling 'nice rack' at all the hot pieces of ass out here on the sidewalk, I have faith that one of them will respond. Maybe even flash me the cooze."
And despite his traditional Italian Catholic upbringing, Barbierri has never been one to allow race, creed, or color to stand in the way of his appreciation of beauty.
"Hey, check out the Asian broad with the briefcase!" he said, spotting another potential life partner. "I wouldn't mind feeding her some beef chow mein, know what I'm saying? Yo, Tokyo Rose! You speakee dee Engrish? Me love you long time, baby!"
Yet Barbierri doesn't base his judgments on surface appearances. Though admitting that some women whom he initiates contact with are "not that hot," all women, he said, have something about them that is beautiful.
"I don't care if she's a triple-bagger— everybody deserves a compliment now and then," he said. "That's the God-honest truth. Besides, some of the ugly ones might still have great legs, or a hot ass. Just because their faces could stop a train, that don't mean they can't give great head or appreciate a hot beef injection."
It remains to be seen whether Barbierri, who turned 47 in April, will ever meet his soul mate. But if his optimism and enthusiasm provide an insight into his true character, Barbierri is quite the catch.
"The important thing is to keep the lines of dialogue open," he said. "With women, communication is everything."