Several months ago, while working out with my best friend in Madrid, I expressed a superficial concern with her about traveling to her country in the coming year. For the sake of hilarity, let’s dramatise it a little.
Two girls are at an inner-city gym, frequented during the week by trophy wives, students and one incredibly annoying Spanish chick who comes only to flirt with an arrogant male fitness instructor. Our girls are working side by side on matching cross trainers. They are like photographic negatives of the other: one small, brunette and latina. The other, tall, too white and clearly gringa. They sweat enough to feel that their gym membership has not been in vain, but not so much that they can’t speak. Gringa begins to think about her upcoming trip to Latina’s homeland.
Erin: (huff, huff) You know, I’ve been thinking how crap it’s going to be, to find myself on a beach in Brazil.
Fadinha: What do you mean?
Erin: Well, you always used to laugh at me for my bikini bottoms being ‘too big’, when in fact, they covered my arse like any bikini bottoms would outside you bum-jiggling nation.
Fadinha: Yeah, well, you’re definitely going to feel bad about yourself in Brazil…
(Gringa inhales sharply and shoots Latina some fairly intense evils)
Fadinha: (sensing danger) But ’cause you’re a gringa, it’s ok. You’ll be a novelty because of that.
(Erin, digesting this, pedals harder. Novelty as she might well potentially be, she’d rather not be a sack of white potatoes in a land of burned sugar candy.)
Replaying this conversation every so often, it seemed only too clear. My intelligent, wordly Latina friend was giving me a contradictory, and I feared, possibly all too telling warning: by Brazilian standards, upon arrival in her sun, samba and crime-kissed land, I was going to be judged not attractive as a result of my skin tone and flat arse…and yet, conversely, attractive because of these things. Weird. Perhaps I was to be to a Latino guy what a Thai girl is to a Western man.
Anyway…fast forward to several months later…and my fitness plan has kicked in. A six pack I’m pretty sure I’ll never have, nor do I care to achieve. But oh dear. We can’t be awful on a beach in Rio, can we??
If nothing else, an ability to recover your stolen and de-coined little woven purse post its dumping in a gutter…or to sprint to catch a leaving international bus wouldn’t go astray, now would it?