Mesmo quando e ruim e boa (Even when it’s bad, it’s good)

This phrase is one of the more repeatable ones I learned last night. Of course it comes from Rio, which I have heard described as ‘the copulating city.’ As well being intiated into this world view, I am getting to understand the way the men operate here a bit better.

Being looked at and chatted up is definitely preferable to being totally ignored, but the mores take a bit of getting used to. One Monday at a Samba night with my hostess and her Swiss guest, as well as other friends, we got talking to a group of people. Everyone is pretty touchy-feely here. I made a mental note not to be an uptight English bird and just accept it. It was all pretty chaste, just pats on the arm etc. Email addresses and invitations to parties, etc, all fly around prodigiously on pretty much every single night out, and a guy took mine.

Pretty soon, he was emailing/calling/Skyping at all hours, and it was by now apparent that he didn’t really want to take the Suica and I on a tour of Rio in a ‘friendly’ capacity. Pushiness is an extremely unattractive quality for me and I didn’t fancy him so I told him I already had a boyfriend here. This was on Skype chat. Then he declared in Portuguese: ‘I don’t know him but I am so jealous of him,’ ‘I’m so sad, I like you so much and now it’s too late,’ etc etc. People in Hollyoaks feared for their jobs, such was the ham-fisted drama that unfolded.

Then last night, the guy who taught me how to say the important Brazilian maxim above had a friend with him. This friend became equally besotted with my attached American friend in the space of about five minutes. She is a lithe and attractive 22, with long blonde hair and the kind of body you can only get through dancing (which she did). All of which makes it no surprise he was interested in her physically. Maybe he even thought they had a “connection”. But the display of crestfallen dejection after she left the bar early was a sight to behold. It really was just like looking at the face of a man who has just been dumped by his fiancee after five blissful years, not five minutes.

I can only imagine it feels a bit like this for people who visit one of those countries where you can ski in the mountains then go down to the beach and sunbathe on the same day, at the right time of year. Or that day when I was at college and hadn’t eaten all day, only to arrive at a friend’s house where his mother had just hosted a ridiculously sumptuous buffet that was mostly left untouched. I went from feeling starving to nauseous from the over-indulgence in the space of half an hour.

Ultimately I err on the side of too much of something being better than too little, however difficult it is to negotiate these dramas at the time. Or, as they say, sex: even when it’s bad it’s good. I’m just going to have to start taking that attitude from now on.

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