Another day, another litany of cultural differences I find endlessly amusing. The weather here has continued to suck some serious ballage, but as events unfold, I sorta kinda don’t really notice. I feel like a doe-eyed little kid in a candy store staring all googly-like at everything and everyone that passes me by. Only, I’m a kid who’s worried my shit’s gonna get stolen. I’m a ghetto kid.
Of course paranoia is just the first annoying habit I’ve managed to pick up. My second, and perhaps MORE annoying habit I’ve is the constant need to make comparisons to the United States. Por ejemplo:
Lisa: A Chilean department store! WOW! In the United States WE have department stores. Except we call them Macy*s, or Sears, or Target. Isn’t that cool?
[Insert other nationality here]: Uhhh, si. Muy cool. (Indifferent stare).
Lisa: A Chilean Dog! WOW! In the United States we have dogs, too! Except the stray ones we turn in to animal control and they get shot! Isn’t that cool?
[Other person]: -----And so it goes, with everything from the condition of the rain gutters, to the existence of central heating, to the quality of our produce. In the last three days, I’ve almost never stopped. It’s as if the only thing I have to talk about is Wal-Mart, and all the cheap shit you can buy there. I feel… how to say… very boring.
So in that spirit, some funny shit that happened today that I found quite entertaining only for its US Comparison Value (USCV)*.
1) My experience buying a hairdryer was not unlike that of buying a car. I walked into a Chilean Department Store (WOW!) called Paris, ironically enough, and found the home electronics department. It’s hard to describe, but the best thing I can compare it to is a make-up counter at Nordstrom. A nicely groomed, pretty young woman asked me what I needed, and I proceeded to tell her that I was in desperate need of a hair dryer. Being a curly haired woman in a straight haired world can be difficult, and although after years of therapy coming to grips with my curly-ness, I found it possible to once again have confidence in myself, however I can’t resist the urge to conform.
Ok, no I didn’t say that exactly. But the experience brought this rush of emotions I can only really express in English.
Anyway, she proceeded to then show me different makes, models, and styles of hair dryer. I ended up landing on a package deal. Dryer, flat iron, and curling iron all for the very low price of… fuck if I know. Pesos are confusing. She even brought the thing out of its box, and then demonstrated its three temperatures as well as its ability to blow “ions” and its two-year guarantee. Did I need all this information? No. Will I ever use the ion function on the hair dryer? Probably not. But I sure as shit got a kick out of the thing. Too bad I probably got raped by my credit card company in exchange fees. But I’ll look pretty in the rain!
2) This evening I went to my fist Chilean Gym. Don’t get too excited, it’s almost exactly like our gyms. Same equipment and everything. Lucky for me, I found a spin class and was able to stroll right in. A very friendly instructor-man came and asked me a few questions I barely understood. I primitively communicated to him that I knew what the fuck I was doing, and he pleasantly began class moments later. As he began to give the class instructions, his mannerisms began becoming more and more hilarious. Imagine, if you will, the Latino Lance Armstrong. A very tall, very fit man wearing completely spandex cycling outfit. Now imagine him wearing something resembling a neckerchief. Funny, right? This I could deal with, being that I’m a foreigner in a foreign place. Maybe neckerchiefs are just par for the course in Chilean spin classes. But then the extremely flashy hand signals began. As we were instructed to ascend an invisible hill, he’d shout enthusiastically “Dos minutos!” and jovially throw up a peace sign high above his head. “Cinco minutos!” and a big high-five went up. And as if this didn’t happen often enough, every 15-20 seconds, he made a very distinctive hang loose “shaka” sign. Sometimes he’d shaka with one hand, and then promptly shaka with the other. And then a big high-five. And then a peace sign. And then a thumbs up – I almost forgot. New song, thumbs up. Someone leaves, thumbs up. I wanted so badly to gesticulate in return, but instead remained focused, and tried not to laugh out loud between gasps of air.
So in all, a very good day to compare to my average day in El Dorado Hills. And with all that has happened, I am on my way to being a very fit, straight-haired, wildly gesticulating Chilena.
***This is a new rating system I have just created and will probably soon forget about.
**Also Muy Buena: still no assplosions.