Sunday, January 30, 2011

You take issue with my bare calves?

I really like wearing shorts. If it’s warm enough out, I will just about always opt not to wear pants. There are, however, definite differences in protocol when traveling: men wearing shorts for non-sport activities is just not as common here as in the US. I’ve always been just fine sticking out even more because of my shorts use, though I’m reconsidering in lieu of two instances of being verbally accosted this week for such wardrobe choices.

The first happened on Wednesday while walking home with my two friends, Josh from Toronto and Lily from Austin, after going out for Greek food. As we passed a group of middle-schoolers, one particularly sweet little girl shouted “nice little lady shorts!” at which the whole group started laughing. I was wearing knee-length khakis. Whatever, it’s takes more than one spunky emasculating tween to bring me down.

The next occurred on Saturday at 2 AM, waiting in line to go to Cochabamba’s premier dance club, Pimienta. I’m tired already, I’m actually an old man trapped in a twenty-one year old body, and am complaining that I wanted to go home to Lily. I then realize that I only had 20 bolivianos on me, three dollars, which is only enough to get into the club. So, I ask Lily if she had any money for a taxi back. She responds that yes, she has change. I ask her if she’s sure, to which she answers that she thinks so. Literally, this is all that we say before being interrupted by a bouncer standing next to the line with his arms crossed.

“I bet you thought I couldn’t understand you talkin’ shit like that,” the bouncer tells us in English. He seems to speak pretty well, albeit with an accent.

Lily and I just look at the guy, confused. Clarification is needed, we ask what it is exactly that he’s talking about.

“You’re just there, talkin’ English, and you don’t think anyone can understand you talkin’ shit!” We just stare at this guy. “You know what the funniest fuckin’ part of this is?” No, the humor has at this point managed to evade us. “The funniest fuckin’ part of this whole thing is that I’m a fuckin’ US Marine.” It’s clear that his stint in the Armed Forces provided ample opportunity to practice throwing around the f-bomb.

“No,” I say, “That’s the second funniest thing. The funniest is that we’re actually talking about getting a taxi back home.”

The man's bouncer friend comes over and whispers in his ear. He nods, and looks at me. “Shorts aren’t fuckin’ allowed in here. I would have overlooked it, ‘cept you were talkin’ shit.”

Dear Pimienta Dance Club,

Can we please screen our
bouncers next time as to keep the unprovoked belligerence to a minimum in the line.

Yours Truly,
The gringo in the blue shorts being harassed outside

PS. I hadn’t planned on going dancing, and for that reason had
not put on pants

At this point, I’m feeling very emotionally conflicted. One the one hand, I really would like to go home, and Staff Sergeant Crazy has provided me with more than enough of an excuse to leave and not get called grandpa by my fellow volunteers. On the other hand, a part of me wants to spite this man, make fun of his understanding of basic English, and dance, dance just to prove to everyone in Bolivia that you can dance just as well in shorts. Thankfully, the former sentiment won out; clearly, arguing with a large guy who hears voices in his head would not lead to anywhere worth going. I go home with Lily and Josh.

That’s about all my news. Running this week involved avoiding: one pooping guy, one dead dog, and one water balloon thrown from a passing car. I managed to stay clear of all three.

Un abrazo, hasta la próxima.


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