YOU MET IN A BAR and he told you you’d dropped something. You — sweet, innocent, idiot foreigner — spent the next five minutes scrambling on the floor looking for whichever possession of yours had taken a leap for freedom… until it dawns on you that you’d fallen for the oldest piropo (pick-up line) in the book: “Se te cayó un papel… el que te envuelve, bombón.” (You dropped a paper — the one you were wrapped in, you sweet little candy).
He proceeded to ask you out no less than 150 times, your refusals to accept him only bolstering his resolve. Finally, your defenses worn down, you conceded to go out for a drink with him. It’s been two weeks now, and what do you know, you’re dating an Argentine. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
1. You will always come in second to…
Any one of these cruel mistresses: Independiente, River Plate, San Lorenzo, Racing, or Boca (harlots, all of them). Try not to be too offended when you catch him skulking in a corner, strumming a ukulele and composing sonnets in their honor. Do feel alarmed the day you find him cutting and pasting pictures of his favorite players’ faces onto photos of you. I suggest you keep a sizeable alfajor stash under your pillow for these occasions.
2. …As well as…
His male friends. Imagine second grade with actual cooties (we call them STDs now). Adult Argentine society is a raging battle of the sexes, in which men stick to one side and women to the other. Occasionally, members of the male corps will break ranks and charge enemy lines — only to promptly run back to base camp and recount all the gory details.
3. …And that woman he married a few weeks ago
Check for engagement bands. See below.
4. He’s a master chamuyero
The Argentine equivalent of our Anglo-Saxon “player,” the chamuyero will go to any and all lengths in order to literally charm the pants off of you. This, regardless if he’s in a serious relationship, married, engaged, or on the brink of death.
5. His breadth of knowledge on your own cultural heritage will put you to shame
He’s read more Faulkner, Auster, and Poe than you have and is entirely too happy to school you on it. You respond by saying you’ve read Cortázar and Borges, but when he asks you if you like any other Argentine writers, you make up a few Latin-sounding names before lamely admitting you don’t know any others.
6. No matter how even-tempered you may be, he will call you “hysterical”
“Hysteria” — a blanket term used by 19th-century medics to describe most women with any sort of spark beyond that of a domestic cactus — has somehow survived to modern-day Argentina. According to many men here, all women suffer from it. You don’t even need to lurk around in an oversized white nightgown, wild haired and eyes ablaze, clutching a knife in one hand, in order to merit the appellation. All of his exes are “histéricas,” and make no mistake: you will be too.
7. You just can’t match his enthusiasm
His eagerness for anything from milanesas to Soda Stereo to door hinges will have you seriously reevaluate your mental health. There’s a reason Argies are called the best concert audiences in the world — they’re just so enthusiastic. You’ll try to get on board, but unable to measure up, find solace in large amounts of plaid and early Grunge.
Love motels are not a thing of the sordid past. From what I hear, they’re not actually all that bad (meaning their floors are not strewn with discarded needles, used condoms, or nylon undergarments). Since so many Argentines live at home with their parents well into their 20s and 30s — blame the economy — “telos” have become a booming business for youths looking for a bit of privacy.
9. He can’t cook
He’ll claim to be a world-class chef and invite you over for a gourmet meal… only to order empanadas. Please, his mother still cooks for him — he can barely boil water. (You nevertheless devour those empanadas, because let’s face it: they’re always delicious.)
10. He’s the most attractive man you’ve ever laid eyes on
So you’ll totally put up with the aforementioned bullshit.