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It was December of last year when I finally held up the white flag as a sign of surrender. All of Marisa's efforts to get me to open up would finally pay off. It would be through this up close and personal encounter with this porteña that I realized that there is a basic formula that makes up porteños and porteñas (by the way, a porteño/porteña is someone who is native to Buenos Aires). passionate + proud + possesive = porteños/porteñas
In different cultures, there are different ways of expressing when you like someone or desire some sort of relationship whether it would be friendship or romance. Some cultures tend to be reserved and polite and if the other party expresses no interest in engaging with you, then you are expected to respect that and cease any further efforts to win the other parties affections.
Porteños/porteñas are a breed of people all on their own. Having spanish and italian ancestry mixed into their blood, there is nothing subtle about them when it comes to showing cues that they desire to connect with you. It does take some getting used to, especially for those of us who are from more reserved cultures. Eventually you realize that people here are not offended when you directly tell someone " no".
When it comes to the people of Buenos Aires, you have to learn to be upfront and direct if you feel truly comfortable. The act of not doing anything and not responding to the other person's gesture of friendship is not a sign to them that you are disinterested. In that culture, they will see it as a green light that they can keep on "nudging" you in the direction that they want because you haven't told them an outright "no".
This is what happened to me. I am a person who graduated from the school of hard knocks. So as kind as I may seem, I can be hard, proud and cold almost cruel to people's gesture of affections if I wanted to be. I was like the titanic, unsinkable until Marisa came along. She was the first Bible group leader I had in the church and it took about one or two sessions for her to decide that she liked me and we were going to be friends. Looking back, I realize that I never really had a choice in the matter, her persuasive porteña spirit would sink this unsinkable ship.
My makeup as a person was very much like the titanic. The titanic had 6 chambers and in order to sink it, water would have to have reached the 6th chamber for the ship to go down. I am the same way, showing me a gesture of affection isn't going to win me over straight away. It would take someone with a clever strategy and alot of patience to finally break that 6th chamber in my soul and "sink" me....someone like Marisa.
I think initially, she wanted to embrace me with full porteña passion and affection but she knew she couldn't do that to a foreigner she doesn't know. So she actually developed a strategy to get me to the place that she wanted me. Yes, it does sound scary....even scarier because I was clueless to what was really going on. Her strategy had been to start by sitting right beside me during the Bible groups and showing small but subtle gestures of affection. Nothing you would think of much, just a pat on the shoulder, little things.
Except that this was part of a much bigger plan. She was getting me comfortable with these friendly gestures because she wanted to be more demostrative in true porteña style. I did not actually figure out what was going on until mid November. She has been working on me since the beginning of Oct. By then it was too late, the titanic now has 5 chambers broken and only one more to go! I would finally see my own demise the first week of December when I came to church and she gestured for me to sit with her. As I came towards her she grabbed me and kissed me on the cheek. And I don't mean the typical cheek to cheek "kiss" that is a greeting in that culture. I mean like a REAL kiss! It was that very day that the white flag went up and the titanic went down!
I still sit here and wonder how I got conquered by a porteña. Porteños and porteñas are full of passion. Dealing with them can be abit overwhelming if you aren't used to it. And the only thing scarier that a porteño/porteña full of passion is a smart one who has a strategy to get what he/she wants. If she was clever enough to execute a plan to make a friendship happen between us, I have absolutely no idea what will become of me now that she's had a whole 6 months to plan since I've been away.
There is also a dark side to being in a culture where people have such passionate feelings. A careful observation by some that have lived there and have had experience with porteños/porteñas is that jealousy is another trait that surfaces. I am realizing that there is a strong possibility that someone who is capable of such passionate feelings of affection is probably capable of intense feelings of jealousy, possesiveness, and protectivness. It doesn't make her a bad person....it makes her a typical porteña!
Whether I'll be getting a glimpse of the dark side of the force remains to be seen. You'll have to stay tuned to my blogposts to find out what happens next. As for me, the "titanic", i have to report that this great unsinkable ship is lying at the bottom of the ocean with it's 6th chamber busted. All because of one porteña with a plan.
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