Sunday, March 1, 2009

Order and Progress

I should be in bed, but since I couldn’t sleep, I decided to relay a little story from today. I successfully made my first joke in Portuguese.

So, I’m catching the lotação to Estádio Beira-Rio for this afternoons’ GreNal game. As I board I see only two open seats; one next to an intimidatingly handsome guy wearing an Inter jersey, and the other, next to the lone passenger in a Grêmio kit. Easy choice. So I sit next to César (as I would learn in the course of the traffic jam).

It struck me as odd that this Gremista is wearing his blue-black-and-white shirt while in the route to rival territory because I heard that the torcida (fans) for the visiting team always come in plain clothes and change once safely seated in the heavily-guarded and cordoned-off section. Well, anyway… A moment later the Gremista frantically starts asking around to see if anyone has thirty centavos (about $0.11) because he has just realized that the bus fare has increased (a few weeks ago, I gathered he doesn’t ride often). Naturally, most of the passengers bust out laughing—myself included—when César makes a cheeky remark about the Gremista being short on dough. Then I felt guilty and discreetly slipped the guy a coin.

A moment later, I turned to César and inquired about the guys’ shirt:

“Isn’t it kinda dangerous for him to wear that to the stadium?” I said in hushed Portuguese.

César replied, “It used to be, but over the last few years there’s been less of a problem with…” he trailed off as he worked on a delicate word for my North American ears.

“…violence?” I suggested.

“Yeah. But these days it’s less and less… well, it’s…”

“Ordem e Progresso?” I offered.

He smiled, looked out the window, looked back at me, and started laughing.

Order and Progress—the national motto, scrawled across the white banner on the Brazilian flag. I had successfully made my first witty interjection into everyday conversation. Man, I’ve missed being able to make strangers laugh.

Not only did my team win today (2x1 in a well-played game), but I received a delightful surprise in my email when I got home. I won third place in an expat writing contest for a big travel magazine. Details to follow in a few weeks when it’s published.

Doces sonhos todo mundo,

Sweet dreams everybody,