More small differences between Argentina and home:
-An entire table of men in animated conversation will go completely silent when a woman walks by, in anticipation of checking out her ass once she passes.
-You have to ask for the check. In fact, you often have to get up from your table and go find your waiter so you can get the check. (This seems to be true everywhere but the U.S.)
-Everyone we meet is an artist.
-Bars have no last call, and nearly all of the women’s restrooms in bars have condom dispensers.
-This is the only place I’ve ever seen a roll of toilet paper hung on the wall next to the sink for use in drying one’s hands.
-In the grocery store, you have your vegetables weighed in the produce section. They put a tag on them so the cashier knows how much to charge you.
-Lowfat milk? No. Decaf? No.
-In our neighborhood alone, there are four car-washes that are also restaurants.
-You pay extra to sit outside.
-The napkins at many casual restaurants are like small squares of tissue paper.
-A burger “with everything” will come with tomatoes, lettuce, cheese, ham, and boiled or fried eggs on top.
A few little differences between home and Argentina:
The sidewalks seem to be constantly under repair here. There’s a new construction crew every few feet.
The butter that comes with your bread is almost always flavored with something: thyme, sundried tomatoes, rosemary.
The women do more primping in the public bathrooms. You can be at a coffee shop at 11 a.m. and there’s always someone at the mirror re-applying lipstick and fluffing their hair.
Everyone thinks Hank is a girl. I know this because they’re forced to choose a sex for their adjectives, “Que hermosa! Que bonita!”
The red lights turn yellow before going back to green.
There’s lots of graffitti with messages to girlfriends. “Happy Anniversary! Manuela, I love you!”
Our bathroom has a bidet and two new brushes so we can scrub under our nails when we wash our hands.
In modern buildings, I keep shoving my hands under sinks expecting them to work automatically. They don’t.
Our cab from the airport smelled good, like tea, and they still play Milli Vanilli on the radio here.
People, completely sane strangers, stop to kiss the baby or touch his head.
This is from the prompt on page 49 of No One Cares What You Had for Lunch: 100 Ideas for Your Blog. The first part of my timeline is here.
Age 11: When I babysit, we pretend there are refrigerator elves who will leave toys in the cripser if you put raisins out for them.
Age 12: At the end of the last slow dance, I receive my very first kiss. His lips touch the soft skin just below my right eye; I can feel my pulse there for weeks afterward.
Age 13: A product of Nancy Regan’s most agressive “Just say no” campaign tactics, I puffy paint “PARTY SOBER!” among the other exclamations on my plastic Sports-A-Rama visor. The upperclassmen follow me around laughing and pointing.
Age 14: One of the girls decides that the cheerleading socks with the school’s initials on them make her legs look fat and refuses to wear them. The squad is soon locked in heated battle — initial socks vs. scrunchy socks — with no one willing to wear socks that don’t match the other girls’.
Age 15: In an effort to be more likeable, I decide never to get mad at anyone or say anything negative about anyone ever again. It is the most stressful, frustrating few months of my life.
I’ve been keeping a word document with blog ideas since I started Mighty Girl in 2000. It’s strange to look at notes I’ve written for myself with ideas I don’t remember. (For example, “wig story” and “healthy penis 2002.”) Anyway, here are three bits of interest. It’s possible I’ve already posted the last one and forgotten to purge it from the doc. Do you remember?
1. Nomura’s jellyfish grow to almost seven feet in diameter and weigh over four hundred pounds. Every once in a while, the population spikes, and fishermen trap hundreds of them in a single fishing net. This slimes and poisons the fish caught with them and ruins the nets, as the gargantuan jellyfish have to be cut out.
2. Small children in Japan make dorodangos, or shiny balls made of dried mud. They kneel in the dirt for hours packing the mud and polishing it until it shines like a marble.
3. There’s a butterfly resting on the car windowsill, Bryan brushes it with his key and it takes flight. He opens the door for me, and as I slide in, a penny falls from my wallet. It lands head side up.
Prompt on page 49 of
No One Cares What You Had for Lunch: 100 Ideas for Your Blog.
My first decade:
Age 1: I do not cry when hungry or tired. The doctor says I’m probably slow.
Age 2: My mom and dad stare down at me. Dad says, “I think she’s lying.” Mom says, “I don’t think she knows how to lie.” I am lying.
Age 3: I would like to wear dresses and shiny shoes all the time, please.
Age 4: Dustin tries to “hump” my leg in the kindergarten recess line, and I shove him. Forever after, I will find the name Dustin slightly irritating.
Age 5: I carry a red purse with a long strap, and fill it with pennies. One day while Joey and I are chasing each other around the playground, I swing it excitedly and hit him in the back. His face is so surprised and pained that the memory of it still makes me cringe.
Age 6: Mrs. Bartlett sends my best friend home because she has a hole in her sweater. I cry because I know her family is poor, and I have to stand the corner as punishment for crying. I attend a new school for third grade.
Age 7: While swinging, I realize I have no impending doctor or dentist appointments, and experience a surge of pure joy.
Age 8: My father dies. At his body viewing, a young man who works at the funeral home takes me to the refrigerated florist shop to buy me a flower. I choose a carnation, a white one with red stripes.
Age 9: Mrs. Ross is my happy, curly-haired fourth grade teacher, and she assigns us poetry exercises. Her note on my first haiku says “Great imagery! You will be an excellent writer one day.”
Age 10: “Mom?” I say. “How do gay people have sex?” Mom takes a deep breath and pauses. She says, “I am very uncomfortable telling you this, but they say that if you’re old enough to ask, you’re old enough to know… Gay people have sex in the butt.”
A lifetime ago, we attended the Air Guitar Championships. There was exactly one girl who was a contender. She had it all: the snarl, the reckless abandon, a mean air technique. She was going into the final round, rocking it out, and bringing the house down. At the end of her performance, the crowd was going wild, she was strutting around the stage, grinning from ear to ear. And then, as if in slow motion, she raised both hands above her head and sort of twinkled her fingers. The crowd gasped and drew back. “Cheerleader,” one of them said. And just like that, everyone went silent and headed for the bar.
San Francisco was always picked last for kickball.
I’m three months pregnant, and my 9-year-old nephew and I discuss baby names:
Trevor: What will you name it if it’s a boy?
Me: Maybe Hank.
Trevor: Hank Aaron had more home runs than anyone else.
Trevor: He was MVP in 1957.
Me: I didnâ€™t know that.
Trevor: He was also black at the time.