Saturday, May 8, 2010

MIND, BODY OR SOUL?

Today I am 41 years old. But I don't want to talk about that right now. If you want to read my thoughts on being a year older, check this out on my other blog, "Pump Up the Volume" at True/Slant.

Right now, I'm thinking about language. Two in particular: Spanish vs. English.

I was just on the phone with my friend Rob, who did the old-fashioned thing and called me on the telephone to wish me a happy birthday. Remember when people used to do that? (Not that I'm knocking Facebook: I now get exponentially more birthday greetings than ever before!) As usual, Rob and I got to talking about boys in Buenos Aires, particularly dating in Spanish as opposed to dating in English. My two semi-serious boyfriends since moving to BA both spoke English, so we communicated strictly in English. With every other guy I've dated in BA, however, Spanish has been our primary interaction language.

To be honest, I could never see myself getting serious with a guy who doesn't speak English. Not only is it kind of a turn off (it screams: I'm provincial, and I couldn't care less about life outside of Argentina, or South America!), but it's just not conducive to effective communion.

While it's been an excellent way for me to practice the language and learn new ways of expressing myself, it fills me with even more dread and insecurity than usual. In addition to having to pay extra-close attention to what is being said, I become a different person in Spanish than I am in English. My dry wit, my sarcasm, my loveable diva-ness don't come across. In Spanish, I'm on my best behavior, and my words are as straightforward and clich├ęd as those of the people I'm talking to. "Hola. Como estas?" "Todo bien. Vos?" "Bien. Que contas?" Yada yada yada, somebody shoot me now!

So, what, pray tell, can these guys who continue to call and seek follow-up dates possibly be seeing in me? It must be my looks, which I find incredibly hard to believe. I've never been crazy about my appearance, and I've always felt that my personality is what reels guys in. But here the entire game has changed. All I have is the way I look, which, never having been my primary selling point, makes me feel inadequate and insecure in a way I rarely did in the United States.

In other words, I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. For the guys to take a good look at me and realize that I'm really not that hot.

Or maybe my personality isn't actually as good as I think it is. Maybe my jokes and my attitude suck, and it's always been about my looks. I suppose if that were the case, it should be a boost to my ego, but it probably wouldn't be. Perhaps I'm one of those weird people who actually value personality over looks, not only in others, but in myself as well.

Now there's a birthday surprise!
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