Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Careful Where You Shake Your Milkshake

In Argentina, there is no shortage of hot dudes. Tall and buff, short and stocky, muscled, skinny, curly haired, long-haired, no haired – they’ve got it all here, ladies. And the men love the chicas. Maybe there’s something in the water, maybe it’s in the famously succulent beef, but whatever it is, you can pretty much guarantee that when you walk down the street, the boys will be in the yard to check out your milkshake.

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?


Yonas H. said...

Well, first off, there is absolutely no mystery and no argument at all that the Argentinians inherited this lifestyle from the Italians. Everything you wrote can be recounted in similar fashion by some of my Italian friends.

So, have you gotten any insight into the personal lives of married Argentinian women? Do they have boyfriends and lovers as well? I'm certain they do, they just probably hide it better.

Lesson of the story, kids: we're not biologically evolved to be monogamous for life.

Unknown said...

Yonas, you are most certainly right about the Italian thing. And the French are known for this too.
As for the women here, yes, some do have affairs. And some leave their husbands for other men, etc.
I agree with you about monogamy but at least be up front with people. It hardly seems fair to rope somebody into dishonesty by omission. That being said, it does take two to tango, so to speak!

Tina said...

Well, you know MY horror story with an Argentine man.

Italians are interesting ones too, I'm finding now that I live in Italy. My now ex (who was cheating on me with HIS ex and doesn't seem to feel guilty about it) is a real estate agent. He told me that a lot of men call looking for apartments for their mistresses.

I think it happens even in the US (I've seen it happen to friends) but in Latin culture people are just a lot more open and shameless. Maybe. I dunno.