I think the Universe is speaking quite clearly to me, and I think maybe it’s time I pay attention. I have been hoping for a little romance South American style, whatever that means. Since I got down here last October I have met numerous people all with stories to tell of hostel encounters (one in a kitchen), bar room hook ups (I suppose it’s easier when drunk) and bus ride romances (I’m pretty sure they waited to get off the bus). I have listened with envy. I have listened with hope. I have tried to live vicariously but found that frustrating. Now, I am recounting the encounters I have had that could have led to romance (?) and finding out there is a pattern and perhaps a lesson in this sequence of events. Let’s review:
First there was the young Australian in Puerto Varas. He was 24 and blatantly hitting on me. He was sweet, complimentary, and drunk. We had been going from bar to bar having a drink in each along with a couple other guys. At one point the subject of age came up and when I said I was 38 he looked at me, shocked, and said “I thought you were in your late 20’s, but that’s okay, you’re still hot. I’d shag you.” The four of us stumbled into a nightclub around 2 a.m. that was filled with children. I would swear there was no one in it older than 15. We ordered drinks; the bar had no mixers so we were served four tall glasses half full of vodka with no ice. I took one sip and poured the rest in the Aussies glass. At some point we ended up alone, and he kissed me in a sloppy drunk way that was more humorous than romantic. After, he said he needed to use the restroom and disappeared. I found my other friends and waited, and he never came back. Two days later I arrived in a hostel in Chiloe. I walked in to a familiar voice saying hello. Yup, there he was, in the kitchen. Over the course of that day, night and next morning he barely said more than hello to me, which I found hilarious especially considering we were the only two people in the dorm. Pretty romantic, don’t you think?
So, that was in early November. Fast forward to late February with nary a flirtation cast my way in between. Then one rainy evening I took myself out on a dinner date. I was sitting in a booth sipping my glass of wine and reading a book. Finished with my meal, I was almost ready to leave. A man who had been sitting on the opposite side of the restaurant with a full bottle of wine got up and sat across from me, not really asking but telling me “we’ll share this wine now”. I like wine, so I said okay as he was already sliding into my booth.
As is often the case with men I meet, once he showed interest by sitting with me he had nothing to say, forcing me to drive the conversation. So I started asking him questions which I suppose could have been misconstrued as actual interest instead of polite chit-chat. He answered and poured more wine, asking very little about me. For my male readers, in case you were unaware, this behavior actually translates into “I care nothing about getting to know you, I just want you to take your clothes off.” To come right out and say that might carry slightly better odds that it would actually happen.
This guy is tall; I’d guess six feet or more, and in his mid to late 40’s. He is neither attractive nor hideous, though his lack of charm certainly leans him towards the latter. A few minutes into the conversation he stretches his legs out underneath the booth in such a manner that I cannot sit without touching him. I do the only logical thing and sit with my back against the wall so my legs can stretch out before me on the seat. Unfortunately this causes my feet to dangle off the end of the bench. The restaurant is small and every time the waitress comes by I have to shift for her. I alternate between legs under the table and on the seat, all the while trying to make myself as small as possible.
At one point Mr. Charm School says to me “You can sleep with me tonight if you want to.” Really. Creative. Pickup line. Good job Herman from Holland (yes that is his real name and country, I think people should know), you’re a real winner. Of course I exclaimed “Oh that sounds great, thank you so much!”
I’m joking. I did not say that. What I actually said was “I’m not interested but thank you anyway.” You would think this would dissuade Herman, but no, he is a persistent creep. He then took to stretching his arms across to my side of the table and grabbing the edge with his palm. Between fingers and legs I had to put all my concentration into not touching him. Then he begins stroking my elbow! I kid you not, the guy would not stop. I would pull myself away so he couldn’t reach but as soon as I moved within range he would start up again. Since he didn’t speak body language I told him again I was not interested and pulled myself away. With my patience and the wine almost gone, I yawned and told him I was tired and that I was going to have the waitress bring our checks. We paid and were getting up to leave when he said “I guess I’ll drive you to your campsite.” I replied with “No thanks, I like to walk.” It was midnight-ish and pouring rain.
We step outside the restaurant and I give him a quick hug, turning my head far to the side to avoid any attempts at a kiss. He actually pats my ass! I say goodbye and as I start to walk away he says his car is in the same direction. He walks with me until we reach it about four blocks away. The whole time I leave about three feet of space between us and barely say a word. At his car, I again give him a quick hug with an exaggerated turn of my head in avoidance. This is when he full on grabs my ass. I lift his hand off my rear, look him in the eye and turn into a woman from the 1800’s. I actually said “I’m not that kind of girl.” I almost laughed out loud when I heard myself, because of course I AM that kind of a girl, in certain situations, and I am certain I have never before uttered that phrase. He apologized, kind of, and got in his car. I walked slowly until he had passed me and then turned in the direction of my tent.
Should I be flattered?
I think not.
About a week later I was staying in a hostel in Bariloche, Argentina when a young Porteno (guy from Buenos Aires) starts paying attention to me. He is 24 years old and drunk. He is also very sweet, and keeps telling me he likes older women. Perhaps if he had been emotionally mature things could have been different, but he was not. He did, however, behave better than Herman. We had a nice chat until around 1am when he was going out to the bars and I was going to bed. As my list of “romantic” encounters is small, I feel I have to include this one even though it’s not terribly exciting. I know you are jealous so far, but believe me, this only gets better.
Fast forward once more to mid-March. I am working at a refugio in National Park Huerquehue outside of Pucon. I will tell you more about the place and the job in a later post, but for now you should know that I and a girl I met in Bariloche named Maz are cooking, cleaning and taking care of the place. One evening I was upstairs when I heard Maz talking to a new guest. He was asking for a bed in a dorm room. We have two dorm rooms here, each with four beds. Maz and I are in one and at this point two women were in the other. I peeked downstairs to see who our new roomie might be only to see that it was Herman the Creep from Holland. My heart started accelerating as I hurried to get Maz upstairs before she put him in our room. I got to her in time and spent the rest of the evening and next morning playing the avoidance game. I said a total of five words to him, and those only because it was absolutely necessary. I made zero eye contact and practically barricaded myself in the kitchen until he was finally gone.
So there you have it. Five months traveling in South America and you have just read the sum total of my romantic encounters. It leads me to a few possible conclusions:
1. The Universe in all its infinite wisdom does not want me to have any romance.
2. I should only set my sights on very young, very drunk guys (or Australians) and not worry about the lack of anything to talk about.
3. I should simply substitute my desire for affection with chocolate.
4. I should purchase a dildo and a dog. (Don’t be disgusting, that’s not how I mean it)
All right, faithful audience, I leave it up to you to decide my fate. Pick a number, any number. If it’s number 5 please remember to fill in the blank. This is a democratic blog; the most votes will decide my destiny. Also, if you have any creepy or inappropriate encounters to tell of with the opposite sex, I’d love to hear them. I’d love to hear from my male readers as well as female…we women can be creeps too right??