Friday, January 15, 2010

Roberto of Parque Lazama

I thought Roberto had stopped to leer at two women drinking mate and sitting on a bench. How especially creepy, even for an Argentine man, I thought. I laughed under my breath when I realized he had really stopped to try and get their dog's attention! So maybe the guy wasn't so creepy, and I wasn't worried as he advanced in my direction and caught sight of Manzi. He stopped to make a comment about how loyal she was and had to repeat it a few times until I understood. As they always do, he took an interest in my foreign accent and my story and he stopped to chat with me and the woman I was sharing bench with.
He wore grey pants that were stretched to the limit and roughly sown at a few of the seams. His leather laced shoes had been repaired with the same thread and to top off the outfit he wore an orange Via Bariloche t-shirt that barely fit over his over-sized stomach. He was balding and his hair was in need of a cut even though it was nicely slicked back in an attempt to keep the grey and white hair as neat as possible.
He spoke to us of his poetry, and how a woman is not something a man can be owned. To prove to us how much he believed in this montra he informed us that in 36 years of marriage he had not once told his wife te quiero (for true love the Spanish say I want you), and not even once te amo. Instead he would say, "Vivo para vos," or I live for you, which really is more romantic. He recited some of his poetry, which had a nice rhythm, but most of the words were lost on me. When the woman sharing my bench left he sat down next to me after I assured him it wouldn't bother me, and continued to tell me about all the foreign friends he had made in that park and how he has lived his life there for two years. He told me of how his mother, wife and son all died in the same year, and how an Israeli girl he spent a lot of time with wanted to give him money even though he refused, so she slipped 200 pesos to him in a goodbye card when she left.
I didn't get much reading done, but it was such a lovely castellano conversation that I regretted having to leave for my Frisbee practice. When I left we kissed goodbye and he told me the next time he saw me he'd have a poem written out for me. I told him I'd bring him a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.