Thursday, March 11, 2010

forced friendships and social norms

Last night I had to struggle to go out. I was really tired--been riding the insomnia train again--and I was chilling at home, enjoying some whiskey and a nice joint with my roommate. But I had been invited out by some fellow urban Americans who are all here in Buenos Aires for an extended amount of time.

They're nice kids--and I say 'kids' because they have certain ways of making me feel all of the five years older that I am. It is nice to have a crew to hang out with. But it is obvious to me that we would not be friends back in New York, that they are only hanging out with me out of either A) obligation, or B) boredom with each other--perhaps some fine combination of the two. And I think these are the options because that is what I am doing with them, with the addition of C) masochism/self-improvement. Part of me hates being with them, because I act differently around them--the way you would around people you don't know very well but want to get along with, but also in a way that I find very troubling, where I try to play up the qualities I see in them that I don't admire but understand that they value: their obsession with being in-the-know, their careless spending habits, and their self-confidence, which I find both alluring and repulsive.

Maybe it is what makes me feel old. I feel like I was like that once, in some small way. Anyhow, I feel like they bring out small pieces of me that exist but I don't like to play up so much, and part of being around them is literally not buying into their scene completely, and consciously trying to be me instead of one of them. It always fascinates me when I find myself as the outsider in a group. A balancing act emerges of trying to observe and understand the dynamic, absorb yourself into it and taking part in the rituals, or standing apart completely. This is the story of my life, deciding how much of a participant I want to be. With these kids, I got so caught up in wanting to be accepted that I forgot that I have a choice of not even caring if I am accepted. Because I don't want to be accepted on those terms. Being with them also makes me feel like an insecure teenager. Sheesh.

So last night I declined dinner and thought I would just meet them at the bar, and forego the after-hours club as well. I'm having a cash-flow problem. I thought, "If I can't make it through the night on 34 pesos (about $8), I am hanging out with the wrong people." But I was in good spirits in the end, and accompanied them to the club, but was already out of money by the time we got there. Somehow we avoided the 20-peso entrance fee, but then I was convinced to split a table with bottle service. Ah, yes. Spending money I don't have. Well, the decision was made, and I danced and had fun. Then one of the boys tried to take me home. We had been dancing a little and making out, but I didn't want to sleep with him. I don't know what it is more awkward--hanging out with someone you slept with drunkenly, or hanging out with someone you rejected. I guess it depends on the person. I try to minimize awkwardness.

In the taxi home, I am pretty sure the cab driver used our conversation about the manual transmission as an excuse to touch my legs repeatedly when talking about which feet you use to work which pedal. The touching thing is something I never know how to handle. I'm okay with casual contact, but with men I can't help but feel like they are just being lecherous. When I was out with that old guy last week, he kept putting his hand on my back or on my arms and part of me wanted to freak out and scream "DON'T TOUCH ME!" But I feel like that would be inappropriate; people are just more touch-y here. But it's like the situation with the forced-friend, like the allowance of physical contact is a slippery slope. I am still negotiating all this social terrain. It is good stuff for sleepless nights.


bill said...

Wow, this blog is far more interesting than that "Love and Tango" shit, where the blogging female got a movie deal based on a bunch of lies about BA.

I should read all of your posts now. I am a homeless guy from Los Angeles sleeping in Plaza Mayo usually.

The Argentines are terrified of sex and look at it hysterically like people in the US. It is no different. I will soon be travelling to Santiago because I am bored by the Argentine way of life. They wouldn't know a decent meal or a decent cup of coffee even if it spoke Spanish to them.

Luis Celestino said...

i miss you !!! get some sleep when you can, and be safe, please please please.

Luis Celestino said...

ps. this blog is so freaking interesting, i kind of hate it. just kidding. xoxoxo

seriously said...

is it just me, or are "safe" and "interesting" polar opposites?