Friday, October 10, 2008

Sweating on the Subte

My friend Celeste told me that summer is so hot here that you get back sweat.
¨Celeste,¨ I said, ¨you get back sweat in Wisconsin. That doesn´t mean anything.¨
¨No, I mean, you get other people´s back sweat. On you.¨
Oy. That´s a whole different animal.
¨Yeah, I know,¨she continued, acknowledging my look of disgust. ¨Ëspecially on the subte.¨

Oh my gosh. The subte rides now are Hell, with everyone crammed in so tightly you don´t need to hold on to anything because there isn´t even any space to fall. I have seen way too many strangers up close and personal. I don´t want to notice that the businessman next to me needs to pop a pimple on his chin, but I have no choice but to see, and then to stare, like a car wreck.

I always emerge sweating and surprised I could even make it through the door with the massive glob of commuters. The other day I was trying gingerly to make my way through, past one porteno at a time, until an impatient man actually shoved me through the doors. On my tumble off the train, my sweater got caught on another train-riding sardine, and I stood by helplessly, watching the doors slide shut and the train zoom off, taking my sweater with it.

All this pain when it is a crisp and refreshing 65 degrees Fahrenheit above ground. I do not want to think about summer on the subte. I have some time, though, before the subte gets even sweatier. Luckily, we have just entered spring, and that brings with it its own bag of tricks.

Spring in Argentina means specifically, as a rule of thumb, that the parks are now always filled, and filled with the country´s finest. And by finest, I mean old, leathery, nearly naked men, letting it all hang out in a speedo. They stake a claim to a small square of grass, set up their lawn chair, and sit down with their arms stretched out and their faces tilted toward the sky. Some are bald and some have flowing white manes, and some are somewhere in-between. And they are all fabulous. No need to bring a book to the park any longer--your entertainment already awaits. But be careful not to let them catch you staring. They feel quite sexy (rightfully so), and if they see you looking, they will assume you second that emotion.

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