Girl From Ipanema


“Mind if we dance wif yo dates?” The scene kept flashing through my brain after walking in the door and hearing the salsa record on the juke skip, the giant screech, and the ensuing silence. We stood like stunned possums staring into headlights, and decided that we had come too far now to turn around. We sheepishly took up our position in the corner of the cock-eyed bar and debated the merits and drawbacks of being the whitest white people ever. After waiting for a man in a white mesh shirt with a giant gold Jesus head (complete with the crown of thorns) dangling around his neck to grab his drink and stagger back into the crowd, I decided to order us a few caipirinhas and try to blend. My horrendous pronunciation aside, I received our drinks and brought them back to our little group. Despite sticking out like sore, dorky thumbs amongst the completely Latino crowd, nobody even looked our direction–including the bartender for the most part. It was as if we were invisible. We weren’t treated rudely, mind you, just treated as if the corner where we stood was a dimension in and of itself. It was weird being part of a large group but living completely outside of the experience. Anyway, the drinks were decent, the crowd was certainly lively, the music was danceable (some of it excruciatingly so), and the bartender was easy in the eyes. I thought at first it was some sign that we were being tagged as losers when she stuck napkins in our beer bottles, but then I saw others carrying drinks away with the same treatment. I’m not sure if it was a statement in favor of the lumber industry, against trees, or just some bizarre South American ritual to which I will never be a party. All this and we got to leave with our ladies and a nice buzz. [MF]