Sunday, April 21, 2013

Burning Questions: The Back in Buenos Aires Edition

1. Is my The Big Bang Theory theory true? Have only about 20 episodes of the CBS sitcom actually aired over the course of its six seasons on the air? As was often the case with Nine in Melbourne, it always seems to be on all night long on the Warner Channel in Buenos Aires, but the same few episodes must be on a continuous loop on the networks in both cities.

Every episode I heard playing in the background as I went about my business my first three nights in town, I had already watched during the Qantas flight from Sydney to Santiago and the LAN flight from Santiago to Buenos Aires. They were the same ones that always seemed to be on Nine in Australia. I love the show, and the priggish musings of Sheldon Cooper never get old, but I'm kind of over laughing at the same ones over and over.

2. Has my Palermo Hollywood apartment actually shrunk in two years? It was never a grand palace -- only about 40 square meters, balcony included, on a good day -- but when I returned to the scene of so many crimes today for the first time since March of 2011, I felt the same way I did when I returned to Osceola High School in Kissimmee, Florida, in 1997 for the first time in nearly 10 years. Had I gotten bigger, or had everything I'd left behind gotten smaller?

And although it was spotless, and the blinds were pulled all the way back, letting tons of sunshine in, why did it seem so grim and dark? Was this really home for four years and three months? If I had any doubts about selling it, they were all pushed out of my mind the minute I saw the still-banged-up front door, a souvenir from the last home invasion, which was exactly one week short of one year ago.

3. When I lived in Buenos Aires, did I live on bread and cheese and sweets alone? Those empanadas are as yummy as I remembered them being, and the pizza -- basically cheese slapped onto bread without tomato sauce -- is still so not pizza, but it's so easy to fall into a pattern of eating facturas, sandwiches de miga (left), empanadas and pizza for breakfast, lunch and dinner if you don't want to go to the trouble of cooking or eating out in proper restaurants. Disco and Carrefour just don't have the microwavable frozen-food selection of Woolies and Cole's in Melbourne, and I'm trying to resist the temptation of Subway and Burger King on Avenida Santa Fe, a few blocks away from my rental apartment.

Tonight I'm having dinner with my friends Cara and Mariem, and it will be more of the same: Piola, a Palermo Hollywood pizzeria, which Cara describes thusly: "like a fancy Romarios, haha, but I swear it's real pizza, not a thick slab of bread with a big hunk of cheese in it!" Sounds yummy, but there goes my figure -- again! Pilates to the rescue? Even if the price of classes has doubled, it still will be a lot cheaper than in Melbourne.

4. Should I be thankful that the Argentine government is sort of inept? Some would add "corrupt," particularly the citizens who were marching down the streets of BA in protest of the government's policies my second night back in town. Since President Christina Kirchner's administration set the "official" exchange rate at around AR$5=US$1 and banned the use of dollars in trading, a black market for U.S. dollars has emerged where you can sell your physical cash for AR$8-$9 per greenback. (According to my friend Erin, that's the "legitimate" exchange rate, where it would be if it weren't manipulated by a desperate administration.)

What a sweet deal! If you've got the dollars, and you don't mind flouting the law -- and in BA, everyone does it, so why shouldn't you? -- BA, despite the ridiculous inflation, can actually be a far cheaper place than it was two years ago. No, I'm not in love again, but I'm happy to spend the next month in a totally loveless marriage with BA, if its going to be that easy on my bank account.

5. Are Argentina guys actually more sensitive than I remember? Today when I was going through the things I'd left behind in my BA apartment, I came across El Principito, a book that Alejandro, a guy I dated for a few weeks around the halfway mark of my time in BA, once gave to me as a gift. (Ironically enough, right after a pizza date with Cara and Mariem.) On the inside cover, he wrote the following: "Porque me encanta que te allas cruzado en mi vida. Y espero conocerte a vos, y al nino que llevas dentro... Alejandro 02/09" Wow, that's sexier than the Lady Gaga song, and with the exception of the birthday dinner that Jayden cooked for me two birthdays ago, possibly the nicest move any guy has made on me since I left the United States. If I must run into any more old flames while I'm here, I sort of hope one of them is him.

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