Thursday, October 28, 2010
Dating & Travel: Beware the Don Juan
-I don't know anyone who doesn't have some kind of thing outside of their relationship.
-Uh huh... And do you have a girlfriend?
-More or less.
-More more or more less?
-And you cheat on her.
-Well, I never do this, but with you... We can just have a great time while you're here. I can take you to Cadiz or Malaga or wherever you want. No pressure. And what happens, happens. We don't have to make love but if it happens....
This was our first conversation. The first 5 minutes of our first conversation. I knew nothing about him when we walked out of the English pub 25 minutes later. I knew both nothing and everything. And by everything I mean that he thought I was the easy American Girl Gone Wild looking for my Javier Bardem. He was counting on my giving him "The Latin Pass" wherein I'd be satisfied enough with his approximation of the Don Juan that I'd forget to look at the actual guy before taking my panties off. So, yeah. I turned down a free trip to Cadiz.
Not long ago I sat at a table of recent Latin American immigrants to Spain. I have no clue how we got onto the subject, but it isn't important. Just note that it was they who took it there.
You know, we Latinos, we are very romantic. We're the most romantic men in the world.
Now imagine if I just randomly started marketing myself and the exceedingly dubious "gifts" stereotypically associated with my race/culture/gender, at a goddamn dinner party, no less. (Channeling Eartha Kitt in Boomerang)
You know what they say about black women, dahling. We're tigresses in bed! RRRRRR..."
But it's not just men from Latin America who've absorbed the whole Don Juan DeMarco thing. Many ball-bearing speakers of Latin-derived languages (Spanish, Italian) have co-opted this legend to get a leg up in the dating game. So important is this legend for Italians they've got a translation: Don Giovanni. Besides language, it's perhaps the only other characteristic the average Spaniard will freely admit to sharing with a Latin American. Even a Catalan, a 50 -something numbers guy with this glasses, a receding hairline, and if he wasn't wearing a bow tie, he should have been, recently got in on the action. You know us Latin men, he said, pushing his glasses up on the bridge of his nose, we are very passionate. And he wasn't talking numbers.
I knew a slick talkin' Italian (in a non-biblical sense, but just barely as this man was MOTIVATED) a few years ago whose sole purpose in life was to have sexual relations with every single woman. In the world. Our very first conversation took place in Puerto Rico. It went something like this:
-I think you are the best dancer in the world.
-Mmmmm... You're just saying that because you wanna sleep with me, Francesco.
-It's true I want to sleep with you but also I think you are the best dancer.
Everything, from his clothes to the way he spoke to you and looked at you was calculated to appeal to the legend of the Latin lover in you. Kind of like this. But all these years later, I still have no clue who that dude really is. A Swede who did fall prey to his charm(s) (?) shared, Francesco has A LOT of sex. And it's not even that good! She was surprised, like she didn't know all that I'm a hot Latin dude and I hafta have ya hyperactivity is often cover for something. Could be anything, but normally, it's simply about skirting the messiness of real person to person heart to heart contact. You don't share the same language, culture, or history. Real intercultural communication is tricky. The legend is much easier. More expedient.
I've seen many a good woman get took by the Sexy Latin Guy sideshow. Take my good friend, Mikaela, who came to Spain on a monthlong voyage last summer. He just put it out there, she said. Incredulous. He was like, 'Well, why don't you just stay here with me? We could have babies. Yes. You, him and his brown front teeth living in a veritable tree house. So accustomed to the perpetually noncommittal nature of dating in NYC, this was amazing for her. She fell for every declaration of culturally co-dependence hook, line, and sinker. Falling in love just a little bit every time. Not with the guys, but with the legend. The otherworldliness of it all had her ready to wipe her ass with her standards.
The worst part is, your Don Juan, is not similarly swept away. Trust. He's thinking practically. Strategically. Once he knows you're from foreign, you often become, by definition easy, noncommittal fun. If that's what you're looking for, do you. But if you're looking for a mate, don't get distracted by the Sexy Latin Guy Don Juan DeMarco side show. That's the myth. On to the man.
*Spanish parlance for "expensive glasses". Not, like, paella with noodles or anything.