Since I started this blog, I’m really trying to post at least once a month, even though when I’m not actually in Argentina it’s sometimes hard to find inspiration (and time). Is it wrong that this goal is more because I like the way it looks in my archives, than any serious blogging commitment?
So it’s really about time, and I thought it would be interesting (=embarrassing, funny, awkward) to go back over the Argentine men who made an appearance in my life, before THE boyfriend.
When I first arrived to Argentina, I was sharing an apartment with a 22-year-old student whose mother and brother happened to be visiting the weekend I arrived. The brother lived in Chile with his Chilean girlfriend (who was also there), and my first night there, it was his birthday. So a bunch of his Buenos Aires friends came over to celebrate. I don’t remember much of it, other than sitting there shivering at a big table, trying to be strong and social but not understanding most of the fast porteño Spanish shooting back and forth around me. I think I was sort of in shock. They offered me Fernet, which I thought was something like dark beer, and tried to swig from the bottle til they shouted me down. One of his friends was kind to me, though, and asked me some questions. I appreciated the gesture of friendship. When I couldn’t stand the pressure and exhaustion anymore I excused myself and went to bed. A couple minutes later, though, the brother’s girlfriend followed me into my room and started quizzing me about the guy who had been talking to me. Did I like him? Did I think he was cute? He liked me. He was a swimmer. He had a good bod. Did I want his number? I didn’t know what to say. He was about to move to Italy anyway. But this was my first taste of the belief that there’s no such thing as an innocent friendship between men and women in Argentina.
The next one was also my crazy roommate’s doing (for having only lived with her for three months, she had a pretty huge and lasting impact on my experiences and memories). She told me she had a friend from her university who was going to be a ski instructor in the U.S. soon, and wanted to practice his English. I said ok. We met at the door of the Recoleta cemetery and wandered through the neighborhood. He was nice enough, but an hour later my number was in his phone, his arm was creeping around my shoulder, and his eyes were giving me that distinctive “I’m figuring out if it’s time to kiss you” look (it was decidedly NOT). We went out a few more times, mostly in groups. By this time I knew enough about Argentina to know how to play the game a little, and never give him a straight answer. Which is why one night he got frustrated enough to grab me and force a kiss on me. Looking back on it he was always a little psycho. One of my friends said he looked like a “devil puppet” despite his blue eyes and blond hair. Obviously I ditched him after the kissing incident, but he re-surfaces every so often, maybe to see if I’ve changed my mind (never). Second friendship FAIL.
Around the time of Devil Puppet, I started dating an American guy from my study abroad program. One night he and I went to a party at an American friend’s apartment. She had her own group of Argentine guy friends, who I think she mostly bonded with over living in a student residence lacking basic living amenities like plates and cleanliness. One of them was really sweet, and we had had a few nice conversations before. It was crammed into the narrow kitchen of her apartment, having a bantering, friendly conversation, that he leaned over and kissed me quickly, and then jumped back with terror in his eyes. Burning with embarrassment, I collected my yanqui boy and left. I think we both felt too awkward to ever talk or hang out again. It made me sad to lose what I thought might have been another friend.
And the last one, after all this and six months in Argentina, I could have seen coming from a mile away. We met at a bar frequented by yanquis in Recoleta. I gave him my number, since I was in the mood to ease my broken heart after a hard break-up with the American who turned out to be a disastrous match for me. I swear, being with him turned me into a clingy, insecure, hysterical nightmare. So anyway, Bar Argentine got my number, and promptly started calling me 10 or 15 times a day. I remember very clearly being in the Jardin Japones and seeing his name on my phone once again, and thinking, enough with this insanity – I’m just going to give it to him straight. I picked up and told him bluntly I wasn’t interested. Que no iba a pasar. He probably went straight back to that bar to search for another friendly norteamericana. I don’t even remember his name.
That same week I met my boyfriend. I think it says a lot that he didn’t act at all interested in me – I schemed to make the first move. Maybe that’s why it was the one that worked.
The moral of the story would be that friendship with a guy in Argentina is really, really hard. And if you think you’re just friends, he probably doesn’t. But it’s not impossible. One of my dearest friends is a guy I met in our student residence. Our first conversation was a heated argument over a controversial movie we watched and the U.S.’s role. And then I apologized and then he did and then we cooked together and all was well. Thank you, D, for your friendship.