So I’m fully aware that the type of Brazilian woman I’m about to describe is rare here. In fact, women I’ve met generally don’t behave like this AT ALL, so the fact that one did totally caught me off guard. I’m sure you get this type of woman I’m about to describe all over the world, so it was just my luck to run into this one on a random, Thursday evening in São Paulo.
So let me set the scene for my rather surprising encounter:
I’d arrived at my student’s office a few minutes before our evening class, only to be told that he’d been called to an urgent meeting and had had to cancel. This meant I had the rest of the evening to myself, which I felt was a great opportunity to catch up on some of the Portuguese studying I’d been putting off.
I can’t study at home, I don’t know why…but I just can’t. If I’m being honest I’m too easily distracted by my laptop and the lure of poking people on Facebook. So I decided to head to the nearest Starbucks and to study there, where I wouldn’t be distracted…or at least, that was the plan.
After ordering my hot chocolate and bagging one of the sofa seats, I organized my books across the table and quickly got down to business. To my left I noticed a petite middle aged woman reading an over sized newspaper. Actually when I say noticed her, I mean I saw her out of the corner of my eye and carried on with what I was doing.
Ten minutes later a guy came up to ask her for the time. As I looked up, I saw her folding up her paper and pushing her glasses down over the bridge of her nose, as if her answer depended on inspecting him properly.
“Sorry, I don’t know the time” she replied apologetically. She then threw her gaze over in my direction and as soon as we’d made eye contact, she repeated his question.
“It’s eight o’ clock” I told her, whilst also making sure to address this comment to this guy too.
“Eight o clock!” she repeated looking pretty taken aback. “Really, it’s eight o’ clock?”
After confirming that this really was the time this guy thanked me and returned to his seat; having just set up what was to be a very memorable conversation between me and this woman.
“I can’t believe it’s eight o’ clock” she continued as she laughed to herself quite melodramatically, “I thought it was only seven! I’m so surprised!”
I smiled politely and returned to my books. I mean, I wasn’t really up for engaging in a conversation about the time. Yet just moments after looking at my books I sensed she was still looking at me, and a quick look back in her direction confirmed I was correct.
Her eyes were open pretty wide and were fixed on my face. She was looking quite attentively at me, yet curiously, she was in no way phased by the fact I’d noticed her staring.
“You’re not Brazilian, are you?” she enquired quite thoughtfully having taken off her glasses.
“No, I’m not. I’m from England”
“Hmmmm” she said playfully whilst nibbling at the frame of her glasses.
“And are you single?” She asked me this quite assertively, only this time in English.
WHAAAAAAAAAAAT! I began to laugh. Who asks a total stranger that as their third question!?! I was genuinely surprised and my face did little to communicate otherwise, yet this only seemed to encourage her to continue.
“Well?” she repeated, reciprocating my laugh as if we were sharing a joke.
“Yes” I foolishly answered, “I’m single”.
“Me too” she hurriedly replied. From the expressive look on her face I sensed that she wanted me to be surprised.
“Ask me why” she instructed.
“Well” she said, now flicking her hair over her left shoulder as if she was on a modeling shoot. “I just don’t like Brazilian men, I prefer foreign men”.
After a few awkward seconds she eventually broke the silence. “And how long have you been in Brazil?”
“I’m a business woman” she continued, clearly forgetting she’d asked me a question just seconds before that would have given me the opportunity to talk. “I run a phone shop because people in Brazil LOVE talking on their phones. Do you have a mobile phone?”
I’d not been asked this question since the late nineties, and without thinking I answered in the affirmative.
Then she nodded at me and whispered, “well…I have a phone too”.
She leaned into my desk to grab my pen and my Portuguese book. “I will give you my number” she said, perhaps believing she’d been too subtle up to this point. Seconds later she was scribbling her name and number in my jotter, next to the irregular verbs in Portuguese I’d been reviewing just a few minutes earlier.
I really should have tried to stop the conversation from progressing long before she’d done this, but I was mesmorised by her. I couldn’t quite believe how forward she was being, and a part of me wanted to see what else she was going to do to shock me.
Then as she put my book back on the table she took hold of my hand, which made it feel like what she was about to say next was going to be confidential. “Call me” she instructed; half speaking and half whispering.
The word “me” seemed to linger on her lips long after she’d said it, and again we sat in an awkward silence as I looked visibly stunned at her.
If I’m being honest I was alarmed, curious and impressed with her brazenness all at the same time!
I then deemed it advisable to say my goodbyes and leave, and I managed to do so by feigning surprise as I checked my phone again. “Oh look, five past eight. I really should get going now. Well it was nice to meet you!”
After trying to convince me to stay, she conceded that I really was going and got up to give me a hug. As I walked away from Starbucks I could feel her eyes staring into the back of me.
Was I flattered? Yes of course I was. Women tend to be on the receiving end of this sort of thing here in Brazil, but it doesn’t really happen much to guys (well, at least not much outside of carnival).
Did I ever call her? Hell no! Beside the fact she looked like Noel Gallagher in a skirt with a bit of lippy on, she was clearly crazy. In fact, I’d go as far as to say she was probably just a minor head injury away from eating her own shit…but having said that, my encounter with her is certainly not one I’ll forget in a hurry!
Have you ever had an interesting experience with someone who has responded in a surprising way with you after discovering you are foreign?