Years ago, my friend, Lena, introduced me to the term, “secret single behavior”. In case you don’t know, SSB is what you do when you are by yourself when your loved one isn’t around.
As a married woman whose husband is out of town, for example, you might pour yourself a glass of wine (or four) and dance around in your undies, listening to Adele, while simultaneously waiting for the mustache removal cream to set in. Which, by the way, ruins the taste of the wine.
What? That’s just a hypothetical…
So, there is also a version of SSB for people living in other countries. Things that you would hate to admit that you do because it may make you seem like one of those Americans who just can’t let go of typical American habits, meaning that you haven’t intregrated enough. You’re living in some sort of expat bubble and of course, you don’t want to be one of those people.
Over time, it seems as if I have developed quite a few secret foreigner behaviors. These are things that I usually try to keep hidden from friends or family for fear of the judgement on their part (assholes). I’m not talking about anything super heinous here, just some comfort quirks I have developed that, if I had any humility, I probably wouldn’t/ shouldn’t share with you.
But what the hell - its the new year and its nice to start off 2012 with a clean slate. In fact – let’s all come clean, eh? Fellow foreigners – what say you?
(BTW – I say foreigner because I hate the term “expat”. I don’t want to be an ex anything, ever. Maybe an ex-worker, but that’s about it. Plus, I like to pronounce it super rednecky – fuurener)
So here are a few of my personal SFBs:
Yes, I go to Starbucks
I’m sure that you’ve heard some expat say something along the lines of, “Starbucks? Why, snookie-van-nickeroy, I never go to Starbucks. Stars in heavens, goodness gracious, no. We’re in Spain for goodness sake, why would I go to a Starbucks when I can have an authentic cafe con leche made by authentic Spaniards dancing flamenco?”
You know what? I was a coffee snob once and Starbucks never entered my radar ever, at home. But here, I find it comforting. For one, when smoking was still allowed in cafes, I liked Starbucks for their WIFI and the smoke-freeness. I just find it soothing once in a while. But don’t worry, I keep it real by not paying 10 euros for a mediocre coffee, but I would cut you for one of their chocolate chip cookies.
Hypocrit’s confession: Whenever I enter a Starbucks and see other Americans, I immediately cringe and think, “God, get a life, you losers”, even though I’m fully aware that I am inside the very same Starbucks as well.
You know you do it too, right? Sometimes, I dumb down my Spanish to get what I want. With my level, I really don’t have to dumb it down that much anyway. Plus, my fake dumbness will outlast any impatient Spaniard there is. It really is one of my best traits. Its quite useful with coworkers whenever they want me to do something I don’t really think is my job -”What? Que? No te entender, tu can do it yourself mismo, no? Vale.”
I go out of my way to look European. Well, I should say that I go out of my way to buy what would look good on a European, but somehow – and I know I’m contrasting Shakira here – American hips do lie. In the store, those shiny, high-rise, electronic blue harem pants did look cool, I swear.
At home though, both the hubby and the mirror vetoed those pants. In fact, I have an entire closet filled with cool, yet unworn European clothes that collectively sneer at me when I open the closet door pulling out my jeans and t-shirts every single day. “Why don’t you wear us today, scared-y cat? What are you so afraid of, Americana?”
What can I say? At least, I’ve got my scarves. As long as I am scarf ready, I feel like I’m making an effort.
What about you? Any secret fuurener behavior you’re willing to admit? Come on, you know you want to fess up…