Why I am Learning Portuguese

Why I am Learning Portuguese

So, I’m at the grocery store on the weekend during what single men do, stocking up on a lot of frozen dinners and looking clueless the entire time, when I overhear these two guys talking. It’s not Spanish, obviously, but I couldn’t quite make it out. I try to linger just a bit, straining to overhear them as I pretend to be engrossed in the different types of packaged macaroni on the shelf when I peg it: they’re speaking Portuguese.

Next comes the once over, the sly checking out that straight men have evolved to accomplish in 2.5 seconds of potential rivals. (Homosexuals take 4.5 seconds since they use that extras two seconds to decide if the object is gay or straight and cry a bit on the inside because it’s usually the latter.) These dudes are both college pukes, breezing through the store with a mini-basket and clutching cell phones like a security blanket.

Damn it, they’re good looking.

Damn it even more: they’re effortless at being good-looking. They were born that way. Shit.

Then I hear more jabber in Portuguese and catch sight of three co-eds coming in the opposite direction. Like stinking clockwork, quick glances between two of them occurs, a sly smile and a lookback as they head off in their separate directions.

Well, now I have to learn Portuguese.

Later that night, I head to Barnes and Noble to check out which software learning package I can afford to buy. Rosetta Stone is too expensive (but it’s the fastest way to learn a language, guaranteed! And I need all the help I can get to attract a woman who is turned on by a foreign accent that isn’t Spanish and thinks I might be an illegal immigrant!); Barron’s and Living Language run each at eighty bucks. Damn it. I keep harking back to those two effortlessly cool dudes in the supermarket and the coy smile of the co-eds. Deep breath, quick calculation on how much I can put on the credit card and still remain within my credit limit: I decide on Living Language because I like the packaging. Here we go.

You will hear throughout life the best way to meet other people or attract members of the opposite sex is “to just be yourself.” Okay, let me state it right out: this is a lie. If “being yourself” was true on any level, there would be no need to dress up, put on makeup, style your hair, slather yourself with chemicals in the shower, shave, pluck, wax, crease your pants, brush your teeth until you almost rub the enamel off your teeth, nothing. We could go out as we are at home, stare someone in the face and say, “This is it. Love me the way I am.”

Bullshit! It’s all bullshit! The act of meeting other people in a social setting is to be something you’re not: interesting. You put on your best clothes and your best face, you are determined to act witty, smart, funny, whatever, just to get the conversation going. You might just invent a profession or tell a few white lies to puff yourself up, but throw in a few truisms to anchor everything together. Believe me, I know of what I speak: I’ve tried “being myself” by meeting women and saying, “I’m a sexually immature Latino with a small penis. How are you doing?” That’s me, that’s the essence of my hang-ups and identity all in one, perfectly economical sentence. Want to guess how many times I’ve gone home alone or wore a perfectly good Jack Daniels along with my best colonge?

Now guys like these two Portuguese pukes don’t have to worry about that: girls expect them to be naughty, difficult, whatever. But a girl sees a guy like this and know she must tame him and introduce him to her momma. She can change him because she’s excited at what he brings. And she knows this in those few seconds of eye contact. He has It.

Me? I don’t have It. I want It so that I can get the other It that men spend so much time thinking about. And considering that I’m working at a fuckin’ deficit here, I need anything that will help me accomplish in having It. Since being myself is out of the question, I need to be something else. I need a new identity, something that is so unlike me that I can play the part to perfection and just get a damn phone number. So I am going to learn Portuguese and use that as the basis for creating some new identity for myself, one that will use the prism of another language to invent a whole new personality that will be far more interesting than the humdrum person I currently am. Of course, you might ask if that entails an entire false identity or endless lying. No, that’s not really what I’m doing. I just need a hook that is a little more, um, fascinating than the limited repertoire of what I currently have. Is there anything wrong with that?

Okay, now for lesson one.