Eric came home last night with a story that cracked me up. Maybe it is funnier when he is telling the story in person (complete with impressions of all the characters), but I thought I'd try to share it anyway.
He worked a little later than usual and wound up not leaving the office until almost 8:00 last night. The car's fuel gauge was on empty, so he decided to stop at the gas station near his office that has much cheaper alcohol (most all the cars down here are flex fuel: they can run on gasoline or alcohol.) He pulled up to the pump, got out of the car, and asked the attendant to please fill it up with alcohol.
[I should insert a couple side notes now.
1. You never pump your own gas here. There are always a half dozen or more young guys employed by the station to pump your gas, clean your windshield, check your oil, put air in your tires, and anything else you could possibly need done. A little strange to get used to at first, but it is nice to be able to fill up with gas and not smell like it!
2. Eric and I always give ourselves away as foreigners when dealing with Brasilians. Whether we speak perfect Portuguese with a perfect accent or not, they know we are not Brasilians. Mostly, it is because we don't talk nearly as much for no reason. A typical Brasilian walks into a restaurant and has a five minute conversation with the host/hostess before ever getting to the part where you tell them you need a table for 4, non-smoking (and I am not exaggerating here!) Before we understood Portuguese well, we could never figure out what the heck took so long to get seated! Now we know they must first discuss the weather, how the food is, whether or not it is busy tonight, if there is anything special the host suggests, etc.]
So, when Eric hopped out of the car and didn't preface his fuel request with an unrelated conversation, the attendant immediately knew he was a gringo. As he began pumping the gas, he asked Eric where he lived. Eric responded, "Belo Horizonte." The guy acknowledged that maybe Eric lived here, but he wanted to know where he was originally from. Eric told him he was an American. The attendant then proceeded to call over another guy who appeared to be a manager and told him that Eric was an American. The manager, whose breath reeked of cachaça, went on to have a half English/half Portuguese conversation with Eric about how he has a friend living in Boston. After the manager walked away, the attendant called over a couple other guys working there and proudly showed off the real live American. (Belo Horizonte doesn't get many American visitors.)
By this point the car was filled up, Eric was ready to pay, but the attendant was still busy talking to him. So Eric handed the guy his credit card and the attendant proceeded to read Eric's entire name aloud, trying to pronounce it all in perfect English. Finally, Eric was able to talk the guy into just running the card and moving on with the process. (Since it was now well after 8:00 at night!) After the guy ran the card, Eric was ready to leave. Then, with one last chance, the friendly attendant had to practice all of his english, and say "goodbye" and "please return" in any broken english he could put together. <--here's where you really need Eric's impression!
Then as Eric was just about to shut the door and finally get away, the manager came over to him and said, "Oi! Você sabe ele é gay?" (I don't think I have to translate this one for you!) Turning his head, so he didn't have to smell the liquor breath, Eric laughed, figuring the drunk guy was messing with him, and told him 'whatever'. Then the manager, not wanting to sound like a liar, turned to two other attendants standing nearby and pointed to the original attendant, made a hand gesture indicating gay, and the other two guys nodded their heads and laughed. Holding up his left hand, Eric pointed to his ring, and blurted out, "Desculpe, eu sou casado!" (Okay, I'll translate "Sorry, I am married!") At this point the manager was also enjoying talking and joking with this "unique" american, and invited Eric to stay, hang out, and have a drink. Eric then kindly thanked him, but said no thank you, and made a speedy getaway!
Moral of the story: Yes, Brasilians are very friendly. Sometimes though, maybe a little too friendly! ;)