Carl, my blow-hard classmate with the hearing aids, invited me to go to lunch today with him and his Argentine wife, Marta. Carl talks about himself incessantly and doesn’t let me get a word in edgewise, but because his wife “demands the, uh, espanol,” as he told me, I decided to go with him and practice. After class ended at 1:00, he and I walked down to Recoletta and got lost for about 45 minutes, but Carl didn’t seem to mind. He took the opportunity to tell me about everything that is wonderful and expensive in his life. About halfway through, I started playing a game with myself to see how many words I could fit in before Carl interrupted me to tell me how much his boat cost (“a significant amount of money”) or where his son went to college and graduated in the top of the class (Yale). Winning total of words I spoke in a row: Six. (They were, “I can imagine that. It seems—”)
Below are some choice snippets of the conversation. Please note that despite my tendency to exaggerate, these are verbatim:
• “The apartment we have here in Buenos Aires has six bedrooms and it’s in the most expensive neighborhood in the city, but it’s just so dang hard to find quality people to remodel the bathrooms.”
• “I have friends who are lawyers, many of them, and doctors too. People with ‘much dinero.’”
• “I’m a very educated man.”
• “When you own as much real estate as I do . . .”
• “Last week I went hunting with Marta’s brother. He provides medical services in La Plata and in addition to paying him quite a bit of money, one of his clients gives him access to his property to hunt. It’s private and very exclusive. Very exclusivo.”
• “My daughter passed the bar exam her first try, and she didn’t even crack a book.”
• “Obviously you know that in academia, no one makes any money—I’m sure you know that. My wife makes a good bit, but she’s an exception.”
• “I live just outside of San Francisco in a very, very upscale area.”
There were others, too, and it was just killing me that I couldn’t stop him to write them down. He is awesome.
Anyway, we finally made it to the restaurant and, oddly, his wife was just lovely. She did speak to me only in Spanish (despite the fact that she supposedly speaks perfect English), but it was good practice and she was very patient. The place we went was a buffet (a “tenedor libre,” which literally translates to “free fork). I went to the parilla (big, crazy meat grill) first, and was just about to order when Marta came up behind me and said hello to the chef and told him I was her friend. Then he waved me away to go start with vegetables and fish, so I did, and ten minutes later he came to our table with two enormous filets—for me. It was quite possibly the best meat I’ve ever eaten. Marta guided me through the twelve kilometers of food platters, and I pretty much don’t need to eat again until I get back to the U.S. [It should be noted that Carl and Marta also paid for my lunch, which cements the fact that I am a bad person for writing about them in this manner.]
In other food news, today in class we discussed what we cooked. Because “I don’t cook” would have made it seem like I was copping out, I pretended that I cooked chicken and sometimes zucchini. I thought I knew the word for zucchini, but Outrageously-Attractive-Teacher didn’t understand me, and after I repeated the word for “green” over and over again, he asked me to draw one on the board, which made me mildly uncomfortable.