excess makes you vulnerable

26 September 2011 § Leave a comment

So said the tico on the Universidad Veritas theater stage, powerpoint illuminating his forehead in the insulting way only Microsoft software can. He was discussing ways to remain safe on the streets of San José, among them to keep in mind the cultural differences between the US and Costa Rican cultures. “Just cross the street as fast as you can,” he said, after asking the crowd what they had noticed since being here. We pummeled him with observations about how no one stops at stop signs, even the policia, and about the cat calls toward gringas in booty shorts and halter tops. Even from policia.

He countered, noting an American study done regarding Mexican women in the US who suffer low self-esteem. They said they feel less attractive, even ugly, in American society, because American men on the street generally don’t whistle or mention what they’d do to them in the portapotty if they had two minutes and a little less self-respect. I thought of a certain Sex and the City episode in which Miranda confronts a construction worker about the comments he makes as she walks to work every day.

“Hey, calm down, lady, I’m married,” he replied.

There’s an exception to every rule.

A hundred or more students wandered the halls of the university this morning, looking for a cue, a clue, eventually writing their names on a slip of paper, and were eventually ushered upstairs to muggy offices where non-English speaking people administered interviews on them, to determine language proficiency.

The lady couldn’t pronounce my name, and we barely got past niceties. Which likely explains why I’m in Spanish 101, roughly the equivalent to the Spanish class I took in third grade in Ms. Kasperzak’s class, because neither Salvador nor Domingo spoke English. I wanted to be friends with them because I knew they couldn’t make fun of me in English, and otherwise, I wouldn’t understand them if they did in their native language.

My classes for the next two and a half months include third grade Español, Environmental and Sustainable Development, Intercultural Communication (which I demanded, politely, after orientation today, for the professor who teaches it is one and the same on stage earlier, and whom one of my classmates (who will remain unnamed) has a crush on, and I wanted to soak up some of his stage presence. There’s a school talent show in November, and if I cannot find any other poetry venue before then, it will be my platform for a couple of new pieces. Here we go.

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