Com Amigos Brasileiros

August 6, 2009

Karla, a girl who worked as a graphic designer at Cookie when I first started there, is from Rio.  While we only overlapped at the magazine for a few weeks before her visa issues got the better of her CondeNast situation (she moved to a different magazine that helped her get a more permanent visa and stay in New York), and we weren’t close, she’s here visiting her friends and family for a couple of weeks.  We had a great lunch yesterday, catching up and talking about New York and Rio and the people we knew in common.

Tonight we went out with her and her friends from PUC (she went there for college) in Botafogo and had a few drinks with them.  It was super fun, and we made ourselves speak Portuguese (with a caveat that they couldn’t make fun of us).  We tried our best to understand as they spoke quickly, peppering their rapid-fire catching up (Karla hasn’t been back to visit in three years) with gíria, (slang) that we didn’t get.  We have a long way to go to really be able to have a functional conversation, to casually slip in points, or even to be the funny foreigners who sometimes get things a little wrong.

That said, it was really good for us.  A good benchmark on our progress, a super nice thing for Karla to do, considering she hadn’t seen these friends in so long.  There was a soccer game in the background, Fluminense vs. Sport Recife, and the bar was packed with Fluminense fans.  It was a good thing they were up 3 to 0 by the end of the first half (right now they’re up 5 to 1).  Poor Karla tried to make a case for Vasco, her team, but couldn’t find any allies.

On the other side of the bar there was a birthday party–a long table of revelers with a birthday cake and shots of tequila singing the Brazilian birthday song (not Happy Birthday in Portuguese).  The birthday boy took three shots in a row, and was taunted with the entire party of twenty shouting, “Mais um! Mais Um!”  He didn’t take another.

The other thing that’s so lovely, but also pretty amusing to watch, is how time consuming it is for Brazilians to say hello and goodbye to one another.  While we were sitting with Karla’s friends–there were four when we got there–four more came during our drinks, two together and two by themselves.  They each made their way around the table giving warm double cheek kisses to each person at the table, including me and Scott, before they even knew our names or that we were Karla’s friends from New York.  It’s beautiful, but also sort of comical, a Saturday Night Live skit in the making.  Scott and I spent a good five minutes, while finishing our last sips of beer, wondering, whispering, whether we had to kiss them all on the way out, too.

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