Here’s a story about the time Marlo and I decided to get creative with what we call “The Budget.” Let it first be known that despite a few too many empanadas and café con leches, we are doing quite well in sticking to our budget in the most expensive place in South America. Let it also be known that we walk everywhere and that can be exhausting, ok?
We had spent a ridiculous day in Palermo. We wanted to see the Islamic Cultural Center and just happened to arrive there at the exact same time as two busloads of old ladies. These were not your average old ladies; they were exactly who we want to be in our eighties: well-dressed and obnoxious. They had no idea what was going on, and our tour was punctuated with loud questions like: “What happens if you are walking down the sidewalk when it’s time for prayer?” and “What level of heaven can women get to?” (Dear Elderly: get your world religions straight). They also enjoyed barreling into us to get a better view of the prayer room and interrupting us when we were trying to ask questions ourselves. Ok, ladies, just because you speak better Spanish than we do doesn’t mean we can’t have a turn too! Shoooot.
Exhausted by old women, we headed for the Planetorium to see what kind of space show they have (my dream jobs that will never happen, in order of likelihood: 1) paleontologist 2) next Stephen Hawking) 3) Olympic figure skater). It was our lucky day, because an entire school had gone on a field trip to the exact same showing of History of the Universe! So in one fell swoop we went from battling cranky old bats to battling 8.3 million middle schoolers with ice cream cones (and thereby becoming the cranky old bats ourselves). Of course, as soon as the show started and we spent a few minutes whispering about how much we hate kids, we promptly fell asleep and missed the whole thing. We woke up in time to get a rundown of all the planets, make awkward eye contact with a middle schooler who judged us for snoozing and call it a day.
Ok, so knowing about all the extra work we had done that day dealing with various age groups and coming to terms with our own misanthropic tendencies, could anyone blame a girl for peeking into a fancy bar on the way home and thinking, “Martinis would be a good life decision right now”? I think not! With the helpful encouragement of my friend Marlo, we walked into the fanciest bar in downtown Buenos Aires and ordered two dirty gins with extra olives.
About halfway through our drinks, we took a looksy and noticed that we were the only people in the bar not wearing suits, the only people under 40, and the only women.
“What the hell. Did we just walk into a gentleman’s club?” Marlo hissed at me. Wide-eyed, we took stock and saw no strippers, decided to finish our drinks and take our mismatched travelling outfits out of there. This is about the same point in time when we began to realize that we probably couldn’t afford to pay for our martinis. Whoopsy! Real panic set in as we came to new awareness that this was no dive bar and we tried to remember how to say “WE CAN WASH DISHES! DON’T PUT US IN JAIL!”
At this point I’m sure you’re very nervous for us but fret not, I’m not writing this from the back of a kitchen in the business district. Luckily, conversation was begun with two suits at the bar about relative merits of local fútbol teams, and we somehow ended up on their tab. Thanks, business dudes in a fancy watering hole. Sorry for treading in your territory, we shall not make the same mistake twice!