50 First Dates
At the risk of sounding like a bad Cosmo article, have you ever imagined residing in an exotic locale, lounging in a hammock while a tanned and buff Fabio (or Fabiana, whatever floats your boat) fans you with palm leaves?
Blame it on growing up with such classics as The Lizzie McGuire Movie, but I presumed that if I ever lived abroad my romantic encounters would closely follow the previously mentioned fantasy. Upon planning my year in Argentina (when I was not milling through government documents or googling “Why do you people not flush toilet paper in Buenos Aires?”) I was quick to jump to images of Fabio. Absolutely none of this makes sense considering I am deeply shy and renowned for my lack of flirting prowess. Just one glance from a suitor and I will break out in an itchy red rash. I spent a greater part of my junior year wearing turtlenecks and scarves because I frequently saw the boy I liked on campus.
However, this was before I moved to South America. For those of you who have not traveled this far south of the equator, let me tell you one thing – prepare yourselves. The men of Argentina (while I hate to generalize, this has been my experience so far) make Italians look shy. They will pursue you, they will want to wine and dine you, and it will be bizarre though occasionally wonderful. I’ve found that the strange experiences can be justified simply for that random, golden “perfect” date. Here are some tips I’ve garnered from three months of rom com-worthy experiences, meeting less-than Fabio’s in the search for my true Fabio:
1. Do your research.
During my second month in Buenos Aires, I went on a date to the ballet with Fernando* (names have been changed to protect the innocent). Although the date was a bit of a dud, it was nice to experience leotard-clad men pirouette around the beautiful Colón Theater. Several days after the date, my friend from BA and I discussed the night. When I told her I had met Fernando in a restaurant and then went out with him a week later she was shocked. “Kelsey, no,” she said with a heavy sigh, “You can’t do that here. You have to do your research.” Apparently dating here is orchestrated with the thoroughness of a CIA director pinpointing terrorist locations. If possible, network through friends while finding dates. Dating the friend of a friend seems to be most popular here simply because it allows you to start off knowing what you’re getting into. The women of BA are extremely protective not only of themselves but of their girlfriends, thus instilling the research rule. Seems like a safe and smart plan to me.
2. Work your resting bitch face (RBF).
In America it’s taboo to be anything but friendly. Women especially are taught to smile and find ways to do so even while, say, getting catcalls on the street. Ladies of America – moving to Argentina will give you a chance to perfect your RBF! As a local hostel owner told me, if someone’s bothering you it’s perfectly acceptable to “glare at them until they just go away.” What a treat. Finally, instead of risking being impolite, simply shoot a suitor a withering glance until he retreats. This isn’t considered rude here, it’s simply seen as being open about your feelings. If you’re uncomfortable then say so. Or, in the words of the hostel owner, just give the offending party a look dirty enough to make Miranda Priestly, à la The Devil Wears Prada, cringe. Thank God for Argentina and their sense of honesty.
3. Live a little.
If you’re 22 and living in a foreign country you might as well throw caution to the wind, right? Right. One evening a friend and I walked into a bar at a popular hotel in Buenos Aires. I opened the door, glanced at the bar, and then went slack jawed because there, pouring drinks in a way I didn’t know could be so attractive, was the most beautiful man in this great country. “Who is he?” I asked my friend, who seems to know everyone in the city (remember rule #1). For some magical reason, my friend actually knew the bartending hottie who I had already planned a Pinterest wedding with in my head. She introduced us; I managed to stave off the rash I usually get and then proceeded to work every ounce of charisma in my body. And the night ended with a kiss from him, the cutest bartender I’ve ever seen. If you’re in a foreign country and you want to do something, go for it. Go out and dance. Go out and make romance, in the wise words of the great Van Morrison.
Although I have several other stories, the most important information gleaned from weeks of batting my eyelashes (or glaring) at Argentine men has been compiled in the three previously mentioned tips. Bad dates are never fun, but they end up providing mostly entertaining stories and teaching you a thing or two in the process. Now continue in your Fabio/Fabiana searches, everyone.