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The Weird Gringo Equation

In the "Cult of Escapism": The Weird Gringo Equation

Friday, August 31, 2012

The Weird Gringo Equation

I'm standing in my towel, fresh out of a bucket shower, flossing my teeth and listening to a band called Fear Factory (really) and a kid named Chameleon (really) walks in and asks, matter of factly, “Are you pulling your teeth out?”

Like people do that. Just stand around their houses casually pulling their teeth out.

I've noticed this type of logic employed here many times – if people see me doing something they consider strange, or see something unusual in my general vicinity, they immediately connect the two and push them under the same umbrella – 'weird gringo stuff'. Here's my theory in equation form:

Gringo + nothing = weird
Weird + nothing = weird
Gringo + weird = acceptable

By this logic, I could be standing in the road near a horse kickboxing with a bear and they would find this less strange than me standing by myself. Well that's what horses and bears do when they're around gringos. Of course.

This equation idea began a few days ago when I went to a town further north and upriver from mine. I was going rafting with some guys from my town*, as a tag-along – a last second invitee. So we're in the town center, near the river, getting prepped for launch, and every passerby (who are from the even more rural northern towns of my district and don't know my companions, let alone me) looks at the big blue raft and scattered gear, eyes bewildered and utterly confused, unable to fully process just why this, this thing is on the road. And then they see me and they visibly relax and keep walking. They don't know, have no concept of what the blue thing is – don't know that it goes in the water and people sit on it and deliberately ride over the worst parts, whee! – but as soon as they see me, it makes sense. A revision of my equation:

'Something weird, to the point where I have nothing in my life I can even remotely relate it to or begin to understand' + Gringo = acceptable

Not one person stopped and asked us what the hell we were doing, they just saw the raft, saw me and were content to keep walking. They'll probably return home and recount the most thrilling part of their day (week?):

“And right there in the middle of the road, was...a blue thing, maybe a boat, with a bunch of people around it wearing bright orange shirts [vests].”
“A blue thing that might be a boat? What do you mean?”
“There was a gringo with them.”
“Oh, OK.”

I almost wish I hadn't told Chameleon (yes, really) that I was cleaning my teeth. I should have answered, as matter of factly as he had asked, that yes, I am pulling my teeth out. And I guarantee that he would have hesitated, subconsciously run the equation and then moved on and gone for a coloring book. Later, he would then recount the story to his mother, my landlady, who would frown slightly and then mentally give in to the equation. “Oh, OK.”

*Have I ever mentioned, in this blog, that we have white water rafting in my town? I'll get right on that.


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