lunes, 18 de febrero de 2013

Real Nice Thing in Life #8

I studied in a bilingual school that thought me many things about the American culture. I remember dressing up as a turkey for Thanksgiving day, giving flowers to my multiple imaginary boyfriends for Valentine's day and celebrating 4th of July by taking the day off when the rest of my friends were stuck in school. I also learned a couple of dirty words from my more advanced classmates. I must admit however that terms like blow jobgetting you off and heavy petting required a little bit more research with subsequent embarrassment  after finding out their real meaning (a blow job wasn't a job that needed to be printed at a larger scale, getting you/me off wasn't exactly letting someone get off a vehicle and that heavy petting didn't involve a four legged animal at all).

This "americanization" process allowed me to adapt fairly easy fourteen years ago when I moved to the US, to the point where I consider myself a New Yorker, or a Colombian-New Yorker since my "hardly" noticeable accent gives me away every time I open my mouth. I totally surrendered to New York City a lá Borg (Star Trek) style: ".....Resistance is futile" And indeed resistance was futile. I became one of their own, I now form part of their collective -- for the most part. Allow me to explain: As I was having dinner last week with a very good Colombian friend of mine the unavoidable subject of conversation (men) took a very surprising turn when she told me that her very beautiful American boyfriend doesn't shower in the morning, but at night!! (Note the double exclamation point). As shallow and stupid as this sounds (you weren't expecting any quantum physics material in this blog were ya?), this inspired me to dig deeply into the different grooming times between Colombians and Americans.

Let me share a little bit of information regarding the customs of the daily shower ritual in the land where I was born: in Colombia we take a shower every day of the week in the morning hours. You can be living in the mountains where the weather can be as cold as 30F and still get a shower in the morning, and since most of us grew up with a very restrictive use of a water heater (i.e. the water heater hours of operation are Mon-Fri 5am to 8am, and in more affluent families 5am-10am. Water heaters are non-operational during the weekends), frigid water is expected, warm water is a luxury, and scorching hot water is non-existent. Americans on the other hand (or at least the few brave that have shared their shower experiences with moi, and my friend's boyfriend), take a shower every day, but they do it at night. And their way of grooming themselves make a lot of sense, specially when you wake up in the morning to a lovely temperature of 10F (-12 Celsius). But as much as I've adopted the customs of this beautiful land, I'm incapable of leaving my house without showering in the morning facing the risk of chronic pulmonary disease due to exposure to frigid temperatures. I would never fully wake up, I would be sleep walking my way to work, and my very oily hair would be shinning for all the wrong reasons. So who has it right? What time do you shower? Do you even shower every day? (I must admit I give my shower the day off every other Sunday).

For now I'm not changing my morning shower ritual. Call me stubborn but there's nothing like the I can't-feel-my-toes-feeling when you step out of your home into the brutal NYC winter after a morning shower. Special thanks to the first world for allowing me to have a 24/7 operational water heater  for my very own leisure. Life is good.

Real Nice Thing in Life #8: Cultural differences, melting pots, taking showers (or not) preferably with someone else, Americans, Colombians, dirty words and Viva The Borg!