Bizarrely, I had a nice shopping experience in Macys today [Sat 11 Nov]. I got three shirts and a tie for less than $80. That includes two Calvin Klein shirts at $10 each! Yay! Of course I had to have my neck measured by the cute black guy (ah, the Americans are so unfailingly wonderful at ‘service’).
Before I left I got sidelined by the fragrance counter. I saw a gift set of five fragrances in the Claibourne Curve family. There was the little bottle of Curve but also four others which were similarly distinctive. Now, I went out with a Latino boy for three years and he introduced me to Curve – a very distinctive fragrance which can’t be found in Ireland or the UK, and which I always associated very clearly with him. That relationship ended hideously and, sadly, bridges have been burned, but, seeing as I really like the scent, I bought the set ($32 bargainsville!).
Back in the hotel, I tried on my new shirts and decided to get room service. However, being conscious of the opinions of hyperactive tourist people such as my housemate, Tony and the enthusiastic American chap that visited Minge, I felt weird about just staying in of a Saturday night, so I fired up the laptop, sprayed one of the Curves on me and began some work.
Twenty minutes later, a generically handsome young Latino brought my Portobello burger (a large mushroom instead of meat – who knew?) and bottle of wine. As he opened the bottle he commented on how nice it smelled in the room. I was a little startled and said ‘Well, my mom will be pleased’. (I’ve been here less than a week and I’m saying ‘mom’ as easily as I stuff dollar bills into the mitts of anyone who speaks to me.) He asked if I was from Colorado, and I thought he was taking the piss, but I don’t think he was. I told him I was from ‘Europe, Ireland’ (I’ve learned it’s easier) and he said ‘Yeah, I thought I noticed an accent. Do I have an accent?’ he asked meeting my eyes with his deep dark brown pupils and clear brown skin.
“Em, yes, you do. Are you from Colorado? Have you ever been to Europe?’ He was and he hadn’t. Here was the beautiful young American boy of Latin heritage – unaware that people who talked funny might not be from Colorado and who seemed oblivious to other cultures. He wished me a good night and I did the same. Here was I thinking that all Latinos would be hyper conscious of their cultural ambiguities and would, by extension, be eager to talk to a foreigner. Not really.
Firstly, to say that one is ‘Irish’ here is not a big deal. Irish-Americans say they are ‘Irish’ rather than ‘American’. Italian-Americans identify as ‘Italian’ and so on. It’s not exotic. Back in Europe one might expect these people to say something like “I’m American but my grandmother was Italian and my father’s family were Irish immigrants”. They don’t do that though. So, perhaps I was projecting stuff on this young American. Maybe I expected him to break into Spanish and engage me in talk about Mexico.
Maybe I expected more from him and his Mexicaness because he liked the smell of Curve. Maybe sometimes I miss the ex.