Thursday, July 9, 2009

How do you solve a problem like María?

Recently overshadowed by Michael Jackson, Michael Jackson, and Michael Jackson, you may have heard that my new home country found itself in the American news recently, through no fault of its own. Well, no fault other than being home to oodles of beautiful women. (Upon first arriving, an American friend of mine was famous for saying "I fall in love every day" about his various walks about town.)

South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford found himself madly in love with an Argentine gal. Hey, it happens. He was so enamored that he bolted from his office to hang out down here for five days without telling a soul where he was going. But you already know all of this. You also know that he called her his soulmate, but he was "trying to love his wife again." Yeah, that won't be used in the eventual divorce proceedings. You also probably know that in the sordid e-mails he sent to his South American flame, he quoted the bible. Yes, the holy one. And of course he was one of the holier than thou dudes who condemned Bill Clinton when he had his affair. And he's against gays getting married because allowing such a thing would trample the "sanctity" of the union. Blah blah hypocrisy blah.
Sanford covering an old Swaggart classic

But there are perhaps several things you don't know about this event because of course the MSM in the US hasn't bothered to really investigate anything. For instance, they continue to call Sanford's soul mate "Maria." Hardly anyone here goes by Maria. Half the women in the country are named María Middlename Lastname and every single one of them goes by their middle name. I have four Marias on my team at work, and none of them are called Maria. The New York Times keeps referring to her "Maria", but the woman was a freaking news reporter here and most of the photos we've seen show her using the middle name of Belén. (But hey, they won't call torture "torture" either, so why should we be surprised?) I realize this is a simple point and not a big deal, but it's also painfully obvious that they made a mistake. Unless Governor Sanford also called her "Maria" in which case he'd better take some time to get to know his soulmate a little better before jumping into a commitment that's going to cost him his professional career.
With the name printed plainly for all to see

More importantly, the story in the US surrounded only his tearful press conference, but who really bothered to find out what drew him to Argentina? I mean, that's a really long trip solely for a weekend of passion. This woman was probably a revelation to him, but why? Just because of her accent and lean physique? Was it because she was unlike any "Latina" he had met before? In all news reports, the word Argentina was emphasized for its weirdness. It is a weird place to go. In fact, considering the man was a family values republican it's the only thing that makes this story unique. (It's not like he was, say, soliciting gay sex in an airport bathroom.) But what exactly made this Argentine woman so special to Governor Sanford? He risked his entire political future just to be with her. And how did he convince himself that this was OK? Did she tell him that all Argentine men cheat on their wives and girlfriends to persuade him that when in Rome he should do as the Romans do? That's what I'd like to know. We'll probably have to wait for the eventual tell-all book.

I've written several times here about Belu in this space, the Argentine woman whom I fell for. She's another Maria - another María Belén in fact. Turns out that Sanford's Belén lives just two blocks away from mine. Also like Belu, she speaks English and Portuguese and is studying Chinese. She's a former news broadcaster and a divorcee. Based on that limited information, she does sound interesting, doesn't she? Furthering the odd coincidences, the couple's favorite restaurant, Guido's Bar, is also the place where Belu and I had our first date, our favorite restaurant, and a place we visit twice a month. The owner, a friend of Belu's, was on the local news talking about how the Governor was in there eating all the time. There's a certain possibility that we sat at the next table during one of Sanford's jaunts. I owe Guido's a proper posting in its own right, but let's just say that the pasta they serve is as good a reason to hop on a plane for 10 hours as any.

I heard a group of English speakers in my neighborhood just a few days before Sanford's big cry. It stood out because you don't see tourists in this area too often, especially older ones. Perhaps that was the Governor on his way to a parilla or maybe walking back from a night at Guido's. Whoever they were, they weren't crying. They seemed awfully happy to be hanging out in Palermo Chico. I feel the same way all the time, especially when I'm with my "Maria". Plus, I never have to feel guilty about it. My family knows where I am.

1 comment:

Josh said...

Nice to have you back old boy, and just in time for Ultimate play-offs. You still owe me a serious intercambio of music.

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