Sunday, February 8, 2009

Brewing Thoughts

Hey guys, here are some random thoughts that you would probably hear if we spoke on a regular basis. And stay tuned til the end for an exciting announcement! Here goes:

One of my favorite activities while walking down the street in Buenos Aires is to make eye contact with the gentlemen who happen to take a gander at Julia. It’s worth noting that men in general here are neither shy nor sly when visually sizing up a member of the opposite sex, and since Julia happens to be an especially pretty girl, I get plenty of opportunities to take part in this fun game. My motives do not stem from any sort of jealousy, insecurity, or male chauvinism. I never get mad when I witness someone look her up and down without any intent to hide their viewing. In fact, I’m mostly amused by the fact that someone would shamelessly checkout a girl walking by, even if she is walking hand in hand or arm in arm with someone who appears to be their significant other (a phrase, I might add, I taught one of my classes last week. Cultural consultants, at your service). I can imagine them trying to sneak a peak out of the corner of their eye, or full on gazing if the object of aesthetic desire and her partner are none the wiser, but basically face-to-face in broad daylight? That’s something new to me. So what do I do when I happen to view someone admiring the lady who so often walks by my side? I try and make the situation as awkward as possible for them by catching their eye and making a funny face, or simply sporting a giant smile, sometimes even nodding to agree with his assessment. I don’t give him a look of “I don’t think so, buddy”, “what the hell do you think you’re doing?”, or “she’s mine, lay off”. Instead, I shoot a look of “heh, how’s it going?”, “not bad, right?”, or a sheepish grin that exudes “gotcha”. My aim is to make them feel as uncomfortable as possible, and quite frankly, it’s great fun.

The way our job works, at least during the summer, is that we go month by month with classes, switching up some while keeping others whenever we turn the page on the calendar. So while I’ve kept two of my classes from January, all of them are in different rooms. Today, unlike Tuesday, I actually knew in which room my class would be held, but upon reaching the 10th floor, I couldn’t find Room H. For all those non-Spanish speakers out there, H is pronounced “ah-che”. I swear this will factor into the story. So after searching the floor my room without any success, I poked my head into someone’s open office. I asked the man, in Spanish, if he happened to know where Room H was located. He looked at me, quite puzzled, and said, or so I thought, “well, this is Room H, why are you looking for it?”, to which I replied, “I am an English teacher at my bosses told me that my class would be in Room H”. Suddenly, the light bulb went off over his head and he started laughing. “Ohhh, you’re looking for Room H,” he said, “my last name is Atche, I thought you were looking for me.” So, of all the offices I could have looked into, I happened to ask the one whose last name happened to sound just like the letter H. I laughed for a few minutes at this “casualty”, as Mr. H put it.

I owe so many thanks to Mr. Chimba. First and foremost, he has taught me to neuter any animal I plan on keeping as a pet. As I wrote before, I owe many of his personal deficiencies to the fact that he has all his man parts, proof positive being our latest peeing incident that took place Saturday morning after I had just refilled his water and food. Normally, you would expect a nice act such as that on my part would normally win some respect; but instead, he proceeded to deposit his liquid waste on or near our laundry. Secondly, I now know what it feels like to have a child trying to wake me up in the morning, as last week he started pawing at my head in an attempt to rouse me from my sleep. I successfully ignored his advances and kept sleeping, a skill I hope to be able to apply when an energetic toddler dares to disrupt my slumbers on a Saturday morning at some unforeseen date in the future. Finally, thanks to Chimba, I can now pick out the scent of said cat piss anywhere I go. Walking down the street presents a smorgasbord of territory-marking evidence, which I don’t think I really noticed until I was confronted by the sour smell emanating from my closest or laundry. This new found scent detection actually makes walking down the street a little less enjoyable, for now that I know what it smells like, even the faintest whiff of cat pee excites my olfactory in the way. I cannot avoid the stench; it’s quite the burden.

Speaking of burdens brought on by Mr. Chimba, I woke up this morning at 8:30 or so to let our friend Alex into the apartment. She’s spending the year in Peru running an afterschool program for girls in Cusco, and was wonderful enough to bless us with her presence during her holiday travels. While sleepily approaching the phone for our buzzer, I couldn’t help but notice a bunch of feathers scattered across the floor. My first thought was that Chimba had torn up one of the pillows or cushions from the couch in an act of revenge after we had punished him for the aforementioned incident Saturday morning. But after further investigation, I saw a gray lump on the floor, and it took me a few moments to realize that it was a dead pigeon. That’s right. Chimba killed a pigeon on our balcony and then dragged it all the way over to our door. I’m not sure if he did it in order to impress us after we rubbed his face in his own pee. Who knows, maybe this marks the start of a new day for Chimba, in which he does his best to please us instead of providing endless frustration. I was shocked, amazed, and completely grossed out – but not nearly as much as Julia. She immediately woke up to go down and fetch Alex so I could take care of the pigeon, refusing to remain in its presence for any longer. She even knocked before reentering the apartment to make sure that I had disposed of the corpse. My jury is still out on whether or not I should shake his paw and congratulate him. Either way, worst comes to worst we can depend on Chimba to put food on the table if we ever run out of money.

As Julia mentioned, we encountered an incredible display of subliminal advertising in a club last weekend. If my eyes wandered away from the vertical blue lights located at three corners of the room, a blue camel would appear for a split second. As much as I wanted to, I couldn’t avoid it and it got on my nerves. It’s kind of like once you realize your nose is always in your vision you can’t help but notice it and just hope you forget it soon rather than later (your welcome for planting that seed in your mind). Honestly, it really diminished my experience since I couldn’t escape the vision of the blue camel while I was trying to have a subliminal advertising-free evening. But more than anything, I really wished I could at least try and document the phenomenon. And to do that, I would need my iPhone, which brings me to my next point: I miss having a functioning iPhone that I have with me at all times. On one hand, not having it on my person decreases the chances of getting it stolen by about 100%, which is strong argument for not unlocking my phone so I can take advantage of its full potential. But on the other hand, not having it on me equally decreases my opportunity to document strange moments and write down random thoughts. It really sunk in when, after lamenting the fact that I couldn’t try and shift my iPhone and take a picture at the instant in which the camel appears in order to capture it, I went to the bathroom and saw the backside of the stall door all tagged up. In my semi-inebriated pseudo-artsy state, I wanted to snap off a picture. In the United States, I reach into my pocket, take a picture, and have it to look at it the next day. In Argentina, I start to reach in my pocket only to remember it’s on my nightstand collecting dust, waiting to be used as an alarm clock. I don’t feel this way most of the time, but there are instances when I do really miss it, which brings me to the exciting climax for this post: my iPhone will be put to good use in less than a month, for I will be returning to the United States for ten days for a family gathering. If the chance to see family and friends after being away for so long wasn’t enough, I get to resume using my favorite toy for a week and a half. This prospect genuinely excites me, true story. So on March 7th when I walk out the doors of John F Kennedy International Airport my phone will be on and ready, and for far more than just to receive calls.


Ted said...

so is that why you're always smiling at me...

Mary Rolf said...

What fun! I enjoy people watching.
Glad you're getting a chance to get home! Good luck with your new apartment....that's a lot of room mates. xoxo