So I often find myself in an interesting dialogue back and forth with Brazilians about physical proximity in space and how people show affection in couples. Most days when I wait on the long lines of hundred of students waiting for lunch, there’s a couple which is basically creating a child with their clothes on, I guess to kill the time or just to share their intense romance with everyone around them. To American standards, we are a bit more secretive about kissing an too much physical contact with each other, even if its an intimate partner.
I’ve found myself in a number of situations where I reacted more like an American man, then at least what my stereotype of how a Brazilian man would react. Like when I was at a party, and a girl told me “my friend told me she wants to taste the inside of your American mouth!” I didn’t know what to do, so I just kept dancing and tried to be friendly, but not too friendly! Or in another instant when a girl seemingly seemed to be leaning in to give me a drunken kiss and I had to dodge this with respectful skill as I ran off to drink some water!!
Today, I was yelled at by a Brazilian girl. She said, “control your friend, I’m not his namorada (girlfriend), control him. She was referring to my deaf friend. I explained to her in Brazilian sign language “Brazilian culture,” with a big smile. She said emotionally “Safado (shameless), that’s not culture, I’m not like that!” I didn’t know how to deal with the situation and felt a bit guilty, maybe I’m wrong, is this overt assertiveness in showing you like someone really part of Brazilian culture, or is it my American culture critiquing what I perceive to be as the Brazilian way?
It all started from my experience of carnival and this new Brazilian concept I learned about called “desentupidor pia” (plunger kissing). where it looks like a man is giving mouth to mouth resuscitation to a woman. I’ve watched people dance jumping up and down for 20 minutes with their mouths connected like conjoined twines. But maybe Brazilian culture isn’t as sexually aggressive as I thought, since that girl seemed to not call it culture, but shamelessness. That questioning thought lasted all but 45 minutes.
I found myself reading a book on a bus, and a lady passed and I gave a quick glance through my peripheral vision towards her revealed belly, she seemed to be relatively young and beautiful. I made sure not to make eye contact, since that made mean more intimacy than I want to have with anyone on the bus anyway! As I read my book, I noticed she was leaning in onto me with her butt. I found it strange but didn’t think much of her butt being so close to me, the bus most be filled! But as the bus rumbled forwards and I felt it slightly rubbing up and down on my shoulder, I wasn’t sure what to do. Do I just move away, do I look at her, do I take her number? She just seemed to be typing on her phone, does she not noticed that this is my shoulder ? The thoughts in my head were racing in semi-uncomfortable random directions. I told my housemate about it, and he said, it’s happened to him as well, as he did circule motion in front of his crotch. “Crowded bus” he said laughing! Which made me really wonder, because the bus I was on wasn’t crowded at all!!;-)