Gather round, boys and girls. How are we holding up? I know, this time of year is wacky for pretty much everyone (and if it’s not, you definitely like to play along and act like your events calendar is jam packed, don’t you? That’s cute), with the mix of social and familial obligations coming to an ugly head after the fifth glass of wine has been consumed. Not to mention that living in an environment with 95% humidity should be considered a crime against humanity. Waking up to sweat rolling down the backs of your knees has to be a form of cruel and unusual punishment. #NaturalBeauty

Despite this swampy mess we find ourselves in, today we’re going to get up close and personal. Yep, we’re talking about the beso. Love it or leave it, there’s no denying that Argies love nothing more than laying a big wet one on anyone that crosses their path. Fun fact: The entire left side of my face was licked by an overzealous after-office attendee at Opera Bay (RIP) many moons ago. Not sure why he thought that oral assault would entice me to return in kind, but anyway.

Bridging this cultural gap can be tough for those of the Anglo persuasion, as we were taught to value both personal space and the importance of a cold shoulder. So, let’s dive in. Whip out some breath mints, put on your sassiest lipstick, and get ready for some possible tongue action (? I am so sorry).

Dear Página,
If you arrive at a dinner party and there are a handful of people there already, is it realistic to expect everyone should throw themselves from their seats in order to clamber across the table and air kiss somebody they’ll never speak to again? (please say no) Also, I usually arrive first and pick a comfortable corner and settle in with my glass of wine nice and early while the troops roll in. Does this mean that I am the Elsa the Snow Queen for not working out my quad muscles and hovering uncomfortably while they approach one by one? (again, please say no). – Tight-lipped Tricia

Dear Hero of My Entire Life,

If you’re in need of some validation, you’ve obviously come to the right place. Why should the one person who actually showed up on time (because let’s be honest, if you arrive first you’re early, even if you’re technically 15 minutes late in this godforsaken land of heathens) be punished by having to do the awkward squat-stand dance approximately 12 more times that evening as they saludar the late(r) arrivals?

Let’s get real for a second. I am a very social person, in the sense that I will literally hold a conversation with anyone who has a pulse. But while it’s one thing to enjoy a social encounter, it’s another to have to go through the motions of “Hola, qué tal/todo bien?/un gusto/cómo va?” with a mix of distant acquaintances and unknowns alike.

Sorry (not sorry), it is stupid and insane to label someone automatically as mala onda just because they don’t want to get up and rub their face against another person’s while exchanging the most idiotic of platitudes (if you don’t click on that link, I’ll turn this damn car around).

It should be noted that you can keep your distance and still be friendly, of course. A sincere smile and an upbeat hello are more than enough to convey your message of “I am acknowledging your presence but clearly can’t be bothered to hover over this shitty dining room table from Easy, only to not engage with you again for the rest of the evening.”

You do you, ice queen! Create that mysterious aura and turn yourself into the talk of the noche de empanadas! Soon everyone will be wondering what they have to do to gain access to your coveted cheek real estate and you’ll have everyone hanging off of everything that you say and do.

Or, just tell everyone you have Ebola and then chug your goblet of wine and enjoy the silence. I’ll let you decide.

 

Dear Página,
When you are home sick (read: hungover and/or because it is raining during rush hour) from work and you have to call the doctor to prove your state and get it formalized on a certificate, do you have to smooch the Doc? I just find it weird, I don’t know. Kissing someone alone in your apartment, while you’re sprawled out in bed, right before you have to take your shirt off for an examination just seems too forward and signal mixing to me. Also, if I actually do have some kind of contagious bug, isn’t it best to keep some distance?
-Cautious Kate

Dear English Patient,

This has been one of my biggest WTF moments since I first came to Buenos Aires. Well, this and the weird ritual of shaving newborn babies’ heads right after birth. However, let’s take a moment to get it out there: house calls from doctors on demand are the jam. Thank you, OSDE, for keeping it real and letting me stay in my ratty pajamas while a medical professional gropes me in the privacy of my own home.

Almost every time I’ve been in this situation, the physician is male, which adds a layer of complication to things. No, not because I’m some histérica who makes things weird for fun, but because Argentine society enjoys objectifying women to the utmost degree! Hooray!

Given the circumstances of the visit, I’m usually pretty helpless and most likely fever-sweating out of every pore of my body. After exchanging a quick hello, they ALWAYS go in for the beso. What gives, Doc?! Isn’t this how disease is spread? Can’t we keep it classy and bump elbows or something? Why do your Latin social mores override general common sense?! WHY.

For me, there is no logical explanation for this sequence of events. They think they’re just being polite and doing their job, we think it’s unnecessary and slightly invasive (depending on how hungover, er, sick we are). I do my best and valiantly try to deflect their advances, pointing out that I am ill and the reason I am not sitting in an office with 40 other people is precisely because I don’t want to share my germs with them. But what do I know? It’s not like I went to medical school or anything (though I would argue that logging thousands of hours watching gross medical documentaries on the Discovery channel has to count for something).

There are a few possible remedies for this. You could prepare a mini-speech and unfurl it at whoever is tasked with taking your pulse as soon as they walk through the door, or maybe play up the “foreigner who doesn’t understand local customs and/or language yet” card and act dumber than dirt when he or she  goes in for the kill. My preferred alternative? Cough all over their goddamn face and then wonder who they will have to call when they’re too sick to go to work.

In the meantime, enjoy your 72-hours of doctor-ordered bed rest (and Netflix) and revel in the freedom of being pantsless at 3pm on a Tuesday.

BONUS TRACK:

You didn’t actually think that I was going to leave you high and dry right before the biggest shitstorm of the year, did you? I’m offended you think so little of me, you ungrateful twerps. For the unenlightened among us (or those that were still living in Yanquilandia and buying shit at Target), I leave you with the Essential Holiday Primer. Same shit, different year. You know the drill. Ho ho ho, or whatever.


That brings us to the end of today’s session. Happy holidays, try not to regift anything, and don’t forget to call your mother.

Do you need adult assistance? Submit your Dear Página questions to paige@bubblear.com or via Twitter (@Pagina924) and prepare to be enlightened.