Tuesday, November 15, 2011

This Is What They Mean by Cultural Context

Anyone who has ever lived alone will tell you that it has it's perks. Not only do you not have to deal with others, but others don't have to deal with you. Your little chamber of solitude shelters you and your quirks from judgment. You can have that out loud conversation with your cat, or eat Doritos for breakfast. Who's gonna say anything? But sometimes our little worlds are exposed.

Suddenly, in the harsh light of the grocery store check out counter, we see our lives as others might see them. It happens simply enough. You pick some up some stuff on your way home, and as you present your items to the cashier, you realize this particular combination has completely betrayed you. It screams, "I live alone, have no one to take care of me, and some potentially unhealthy habits."

This has happened to me enough that I now find these combinations hysterical. In America, the classic was somewhere along the lines of a six pack of beer, a jar of tomato sauce, and the wrapper of the bag of gummy bears I ate while shopping that I now need to pay for.

This phenomenon is inescapable, even in Paraguay. Except, as with all things in Peace Corps, we must put this in cultural context. So last night's purchase?

A box of chocolate milk, matches, a liter of beer, and a miniature pineapple.

"Eso, no mas?"  has never sounded so judgmental.

To be fair I preceded to drink the entire liter of beer, and eat the pineapple like a turkey leg. So maybe judgment was in order.
Smiling because even I know just how ridiculous this is.