1. You address everyone as if they’re family.

You’d use the informal “vos” even with the Pope, who’d appreciate it, of course, because he’s Argentine.

2. You’re not afraid to kiss.

You greet everyone with a kiss — the teachers, the waiters, whoever. And you send virtual kisses in every email, whether it’s about work, love, or a fight: “Te mando un beso grande.”

3. If you see a car with a plastic bottle on its hood/roof, you know that…

It’s for sale! Nobody seems to know exactly where this custom came from, but it’s as universal as having asado on Sunday. Argentina remains for me, after years living as an expatriate, a red Torino with a bottle of bleach on its roof.

4. You know exactly what a bidet is for.

And, dammit, if only they were available everywhere! Unfortunately, it seems like other countries have overlooked this convenient way to keep their “pudendas” clean.

5. You’ve pushed a broken-down car…more than once.

A friend’s, a neighbor’s, some stranger’s in the middle of the highway. You ended up all sweaty and covered in grease/dirt, but with your new friends you had the satisfaction of having done your duty to help, which is simply part of our culture.

6. You still have nightmares about dying after mixing wine and watermelon.

How many times did they warn us about this deadly combination? Even today I make sure that wine and watermelon are never found on the same table. What’s the science, exactly, behind this folk wisdom?

7. You begin each statement with a long “Cheeee.”

“Che” is accompanied of course by whichever termination seems appropriate: the always effective “boludo/a” (or “asshole”) or the milder “¿viste?” (see?). And depending on context, you need the universally qualifying adjective “re.” So it’s like: “Cheeee, estoy re feliz. Me vi con Fulano el finde, ¿viste?”

8. It never occurred to you that sharing a mate was sharing germs with your friends.

Or maybe it did but you didn’t care. And you’d never (EVER) think of using your own mate in a group as if it were a coffee, as people do here in the US. Mate is for sharing.

9. Friends are…

People we love. Even if we grow up punching each other. Even if we get pissed off about the littlest things. We always patch it up. We just eat dinner together and then like new we’re family again, because there’s no friend like an Argentine.

10. You’re born knowing that life is simple pleasures.

You cry easy and you laugh your ass off at whatever. You go from a furrowed brow (your default facial expression) to a huge smile without any filter. There’s always room for one more person at the table. There’s always a reason to make a toast, a joke, to discuss, to complain. You’re Argentine; you have an incomparable capacity to enjoy the simple things in life.

Photo: Daniel Iván 

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