Banking in His Underwear

A pair of speedos clung to his bum. Chest hair proudly erect in the air conditioning. Gaze nonchalant.

The Brazilian man in front of me was inside the bank using his debit card to take out some cash. And he was naked save the unfortunate garment choice of speedo. And no one but me thought anything of it.

Brazilians are an informal people and it’s not just exemplified in the way they dress. Total strangers will reach out and touch your children’s feet and hair, cooing about how cute they are (At least I think that’s what they’re saying. I hear something like the Portuguese word for beautiful, “lindo,” but for all I know the stranger could be offering to sell us umbrellas.).

Brazilians are warm and friendly, which somehow scares the shit out of me. Must be all my time in New York. I asked directions of a stranger and she escorted me by the hand for 10 minutes, making sure I got correct change from my metro ticket and ensuring I found my way to the subway. Upon boarding me, she kissed me and said, “In Brazil, we kiss both cheeks.” I smiled and thanked her, but I couldn’t quite shut out an evil voice, which whispered in my head, “In New York, we tell strangers to kiss our ass.”

I hope that the longer I stay away from New York, the more I will adopt this Brazilian attitude. Maybe my cynicism will fade away in inverse proportion to the tan I am slowly cultivating.

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