While all you first world white girls out there are thinking, shit, I am on the next plane, think again girls. With these admiring glances also comes a whole slew of cultural games that one has to be prepared for, particularly the omission of vital information like being married, having children or living with your significant other.
For example, it is common for men not to wear a wedding ring even if they are, in fact, married. I recently met a hunky guy who chased me around for an entire evening only to find out he was married when he friended me on Facebook, his page replete with photos of his wife and children.
Besides the fact that most North American men would wear a wedding ring if they were married, they also probably would at some point reference the ‘ole ball and chain. But not here – you could go out to a party or club on a Saturday night (which here means sometime around 4 am) and spend the night being pursued by a man who has a wife and kids that he kissed goodbye after dinner around 1 am to come out on the prowl.
When I mentioned that I wanted to write something on my blog about this, horror stories quickly piled up from my girlfriends – Argentine and North American alike.
Among my faves:
- The man who dated my friend for a few weeks one summer and when she wanted to see his house he got super nervous. Why? When she got there, there were photos of his wife and kid who were off at the beach for the summer!
- Another friend’s boss revealed that among his 10 closest friends, seven of them had double families! WTF?
Someone remarked to me how ironic it was that a culture that values family so much would be willing to tolerate this violation of “family values”. But maybe that’s the point – could it be that they don’t see one night or even a regular sexual relationship as a violation? Are they just such master compartmentalizers that it doesn’t seem like they are bringing pain onto anyone or even risking their families?
I will never understand it. All I can do is chalk it up to the fine Latin art of not saying what you’re saying while you sort of say it. There, I said it. Or did I?