Now that I have your attention, I should point out that the Spanish verb molestar simply means to bother or annoy. I haven’t actually been running rampant through Argentina sexually harassing her men.
I have, however, managed to be creepy.
I came to Argentina to improve my Spanish, but I still wanted to keep up with my German so I enrolled in a German conversation course at the Goethe Institut in Córdoba (apparently I really like it when my brain feels like pudding). This was an interesting experience because if a student didn’t understand something, the teachers would explain it in Spanish. No matter what, I had to think in a foreign language and I actually picked up a lot of new Spanish words, which isn’t something you’d expect from a German class.
Every few weeks at the Goethe Institut they show a German film in the library with Spanish subtitles, open to anyone who wants to show up. I was at one of these showings, waiting for the movie to start, when I made an amazing discovery.
The guy sitting next to me was absolutely gorgeous.
You know the phrase “tall, dark, and handsome?” This guy was the literal embodiment of that. Most of the students at this showing had come in small groups with their friends, but this guy was by himself. Since this was a movie and not Stammtisch, I guessed that they probably wouldn’t encourage us to talk much (most German schools I’ve been to hold Stammtisch, which is an informal get together, at regular intervals so that students can get to know each other and practice German outside the classroom).
Before the movie started the people in charge started passing cups of popcorn down the rows of seats. I did my best to arrange my face into a smile when the guy turned to hand me my cup, because humans like smiles, right? When the movie started I realized that none of the people in this room had even the slightest reason to talk to each other because the only reason we were here was to watch a movie. This meant that, barring extremely fairytale-like circumstances, I would have to be the one to initiate the conversation.
I wondered if I was brave enough to talk to this beautiful Argentine man.
Nope, the goblins in my head answered. The beautiful Argentine man counts as people, and you’re terrified of people, remember?
Well, I thought, the joke’s on you, goblins in my head. Once I leave this country I’ll never see any of these people again, therefore I have nothing to lose. So HAH!
After an hour and a half of wondering what the hell was I going to say to this guy, the movie finally ended (it was about a professor who introduced soccer to Germany, for those who are curious). The people in charge asked if there were any questions and after a brief discussion about the film, they thanked us for coming and everyone started getting up to leave.
There it was, the moment of truth. The guy stood up. Crap! What do I do?
My brilliant strategy:
I blurted out, “Hat dir den Film gefallen?” (Did you like the movie?)
He turned to me with a surprised look on his face. “Ja,” he said slowly, as if he weren’t sure if I was talking to him or not. “Dir?” (You?)
I asked him if he understood very much and he shook his head. I didn’t understand much either, both because the actors had funny accents and because sitting within farting distance of a guy who looks like the physical incarnation of a Greek god tends to be distracting. We ended up switching to Spanish and I just kind of tagged along with him as we walked out of the library.
He noticed my accent and we had that whole “Where are you from, why are you here, do you like Argentina” conversation and as we left the school he turned down the sidewalk.
Me, still tagging along: Adónde vas? (Where are you going?)
Guy: Me voy a mi casa. Es muy cerca de acá. Vos? (I’m going home. It’s very close to here. You?)
Me, pointing in the complete opposite direction: Tengo que esperar en la parada allá. (I have to wait at the bus stop over there)
We stopped in the middle of the sidewalk and talked for about five more minutes. As he was about to say, “Bueno, nos vemos la próxima vez” (Well, see you next time), I interrupted him and asked him for his Facebook.
He told me, but his name was complicated and unpronounceable so he ended up having to type it into my phone. But the point is, he gave me his information, right? It was obvious what I was doing, and when people respond to that by giving their information it means they’re interested, right?
After that I told him, “Bueno, no te voy a molestar más. Chau!” (Well, I won’t bother you anymore. Bye!)
On the bus home I kinda just stared out the window in shock. I could hardly believe what I had done. This was the very first time that I had struck up conversation with (i.e. hit on) a complete stranger who had no reason or intent to talk to me. I really hope that I’m able to carry these great big hairy cojones that I seem to have developed back to States when I go home.
It seemed like a good start, right?
Even so, I had the sinking feeling that he had only been politely tolerating me. Sure enough, it turned out that he had a girlfriend.
Even though he was incredibly nice about it, rejection sucks. My initial reaction was disappointment, but then I thought, why didn’t he just say so in the first place? That would have made life much simpler for the both of us.
Were my intentions not as obvious as I thought they were? Did this guy think I was just being friendly, or was he just too polite to say no? Was he just really friendly?
If you’ve found someone that you can be happy with, then I’m happy for you and I wish you nothing but the best. But if we don’t establish some sort of system where people can be clear about their intentions with each other, I just might start ear tagging you happy couples so the rest of us can identify you.