More than I bargain for

Pic of Curve fragaranceBizarrely, 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.

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4 comments

  1. peto

    Sigh. I have a horrid confession that I would like to share, since you shared your fragrance story. There are two distinctive scents which make me think of the first person I ever Fell in Love with. He was my first boyfriend too. When we met, he had the a horrid penchant for Brute 33 (I believe that is what it was called). I laughed at him about it, and early on in the relationship he stopped using it. The other scent was the deoderant he used. The relationship ended terrible as well, but NOW when I smell that god aweful Brute aftershave, it reminds me of that new kind of love. The deoderant reminds me of him, so I don’t keep that stuff in my house these days.
    Such a bitter queen in that respect (LOL!)

    Funny thing you mention cultural sensitivites, I was aware of myself way way too early in my childhood, and so I became keenly aware of what made everyone different. Being that way, on the other hand, made me a little outcast with my circle of friends(ie people like your generic food runner). It is odd one can live their entire life and not be aware of enyone else outside of themselves.

  2. enda p

    Brut? The stuff in the green bottle from the late 70s? Whatta man! lol But yes, it’s funny how small can bring back the past so vividly. Thank god the M-ex had good taste in smellies!

    As for the cultural thing; I’m so projecting. I used to be a teacher of English as a Foreign Language and at one stage pretty much everyone I worked with, socialised with and slept with wasn’t Irish, so I became very interested in difference in language, culture etc. But here I am expecting that young man (generic only in looks – as in handsome wholesome jock) to be as conflicted and fragmented. I doubt it. He was an American college boy, did his part time job in the hotel, got with his girl afterwards, will be a doctor and get rich. Why worry his pretty head about the ravings of some bloody European.

    I’m rambling now. I’ve either been on a plane or in an airposrt for 24 hours (last leg of flight was cancelled. Aaaagh!). I need sleep!

  3. conortje

    I also taught English for a couple of years – I remember this one time showing a Belgian student of mine a map of Ireland and was pointing out where I was from (Tralee) and where I had gone to University (Galway) when all of a sudden he asks me to point out where London is on my map !!!**!! – you can imagine my horror.

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