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13 Honest Questions This American Has for You, Argentina

by Cathy Brown Apr 15, 2015

1. What’s the thought process behind calling me negra and gorda?

My hair is dark blonde. My Lithuanian-Scottish descent skin is, at most times of the year, white as a ghost. I am a US-size 8 and in good shape. Yet Argentines, you insist on calling me ‘negra’ (black girl) and ‘gordita’ (little fatty) more times a day than I can count. You tell me not to look so much into it, that they are really terms of endearment, but, please, if it makes no difference to you, can’t we just go with the also popular ‘reina’ (queen), ‘linda’ (pretty), or ‘hermosa’ (beautiful)?

2. With the little amount of sleep it appears you need, are you secretly all vampires?

Here’s looking at you, portenos — you think nothing of head out to the boliches at 2 or 3am, you dance the night away to some electro something-or-other crap, then saunter your way back home when the sun comes up…just in time to take a shower, get dressed, and go to your respectable adult job. How the hell do you function? I would like to say that it is something that one gets used to, but no amount of time in Buenos Aires has ever been enough to make it so that I don’t need to go to bed at 9pm and set my alarm for 2am to have a head start for the night out. And no matter what, the next morning I’m still an exhausted, zombie-like mess. Please, please, let me in on your secret!

3. How can you ever afford to buy or build a house?

Estancia-living, polo-playing trust fund babies aside, this is one point that truly has me baffled. It’s not like this country is especially inexpensive for housing or land. Mortgages barely exist, and for most house purchases you are expected to pay up front in all cash of US dollars. Not all of you have a wealthy mom or dad to foot the bill. So, in all seriousness, where does this money come from for you to buy a house? I could understand if I saw you all working your butts off with three jobs, consciously scaling down your expenses, and saving for years, but a lot of you still find a way to go out, vacation in Punta del Este in the summer, and keep yourself in the newest clothes — and end up with a house. Where is this magical money fairy? And next time you see her, can you send her my way?

4. How are so many Argentine women so damn skinny when they appear to live off of carbs and sugar?

Gordita’ here would really love to know. Food staples in Argentina are medialunas, pasta, gnocchis, dulce de leche, helado, choripan and copious quantities of Malbec. Yet, no exaggeration, my US size 8 jeans are the equivalent to a size XXL in Argentina (and, honestly, that’s with me sucking in and jumping up and down to try to button them). Suffice it to say I’m quite bitter and pissed off at all of you, skinny-ass Argentine women — because this one is just not in any way fair.

5. Are you ever going to take it down a few notches when it comes to the Falklands (I’m sorry, Malvinas) ‘controversy’?

I understand that people tend to get touchy about wars their country lost. But, to an outsider, it seems like you are kind of just pretending you never lost, and the Argentine government still continues to claim the Falklands as sovereign territory to this day. And you get uptight when someone dares so much as to even question whether they really belong to England. I’m not trying to be insensitive here, really — but why does this territory mean so much to you?

6. Why do the majority of you not think twice about littering?

Your country is unquestionably gorgeous. The natural beauty here includes some of the most pristine mountains I have ever seen, turquoise rivers and sparkling lakes, the multi-colored deserts of the northwest, the rainforests and waterfalls of the northeast…and yet you litter over all of it. Done with that wrapper? On the ground or out the car window it goes. To a foreigner who is in love with this country, it’s barbaric, lazy and lacking basis conscientiousness.

7. Do you actually like standing in line for hours?

Has it not crossed anyone’s mind that there are better ways to manage businesses than to expect people to stand in lines for hours just to pay a bill? And when you do get up to the front of the line, you get informed that you were in the wrong line, or the cashiers have the balls to decide it’s time to go in the back room and drink mate, or the place even closes for siesta. I get it that you have RapiPago, your version of electronic bill payment. But there is, of course, for familiarity’s sake, even a long line to stand in for that. You have a lot of strengths, Argentina, but efficiency and customer service are definitely not some of them.

8. Why do you insist on eating so late at night?

Okay, maybe because you stay up until 8am when you go out. I get it in that situation. But often, you eat a heavy dinner at 10 or 11pm, then you go straight to bed. Any good reason why dinner couldn’t be moved up to 7 or 8pm or so, so you can have of a chance of actually digesting some of your food before you go to bed for the night?

9. How do you all not die in car accidents by the time you are 5?

After driving in this country for years, I think I have figured out the basic rules of the road. Whoever goes faster, has the right of way. Whoever has the tougher looking car, has the right of way. Whoever just appears that he is not going to stop, has the right of way. Passing? The closer you can cut it before getting hit head on from the oncoming car, the better. It’s just more exciting that way, no? But why are there seemingly so fewer accidents than in countries that have clear driving rules that people adhere to, like the US? Zero logic here, but props to you for managing to work it out.

10. What’s up with marketing things with English you clearly don’t understand?

As much as I can’t personally stand it, I at least understand the (albeit lame) reasoning behind buying clothing that has Gap or Abercrombie scrawled all over it. But “Happy Luck Chance” or “He said he wold never?” I know I’m a grammar nerd, but before you print something on thousands of t-shirts, wouldn’t you at least spell check? And, do tell, what IS it that he said he would never do? And, by the way, you might want to think twice before naming your children’s store “Mr. Cock”.

11. How do you get any work done when you spend so much time in the day screwing around, bullshitting, or not showing up?

In your office, you drink mate. All. Day. Long. You check Facebook religiously. You enthusiastically get into 15 minute conversations about nothing with anyone who walks past. You check the futbol scores when you are supposed to be in a meeting. You have a line of 30 people waiting, yet you decide that is a great time to leisurely show the person at the front of the line your new shoes, photos of your nephews, etc. You have more national holidays than any other country in the world. You don’t go into work if it’s raining really hard (and by ‘really hard’, we all know that means ‘not very hard at all’). How do businesses actually function?

12. How on earth do you get excited about sandwiches de miga?

You’ve got most other food dialed in. No one can top your succulent beef cooked to perfection. Your wine is divine. I’ve grown more addicted to dulce de leche than I care to admit. But there is no part of me that can even call a sandwich de miga a sandwich. It seriously has to be the world’s sorriest excuse for a sandwich. And yet, you eat them up like they are some culinary treasure. The meat is crap quality and insufficient in quantity. The condiments are boring if not non-existent. And the bread…let’s be honest here, is not even really bread-like. It would serve better as a thin, spongy dishcloth than as the basis of your snack. Not to be mean, but do you really, sincerely like these things, or have you just never tried a real sandwich before so you have nothing to compare to?

13. At some point are you going to move past the 80s in music?

I’m not going to lie — I get great satisfaction every time I walk into a supermarket that is rocking out The Bangles or Cyndi Lauper. I feel pretty cool, because as a child of the 80’s, I happen to know all the words. There’s few other times in Argentina when I know all of the correct words to anything. But, while I can appreciate wonderfully horrible synth-pop as much as the next guy, I also moved past it and now embrace other genres and decades. I’m wondering, Argentina, someday are you going to finally discover music from the 21st century? On second thought, I’m not really looking forward to an incoming wave of Jonas Brothers and Nickelback that lasts for the next 30 years.

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