It is always interesting for us foreigners to begin to understand a concept or idea that has no equivalent in ones mother culture. For example, the word “Procrastination”, or any equivalent, does not exist in Spanish culture (maybe it is so deeply embedded in their subconscious that it defies verbal expression, because anyone who has spent any time at all in this country knows it exists here).
In Spanish there is a concept called “vergüenza agena” which literally translates to “unattached shame”. There is an enlightening discussion on Word reference regarding vergüenza ajena that I thought was interesting and the final definition given is fitting. The person posting defines vergüenza ajena like this: when “You feel the shame the person who's making a fool of himself should be feeling - if he were only aware of what he was doing”. Bingo.
So why bring up vergüenza ajena? Stacy and I were talking about the vergüenza ajena we sometimes feel when we overhear conversations of American students here sometimes. She referred to two American girls that were speaking in Spanish to each other and it made her cringe with vergüenza ajena. We started to contemplate why we feel this way-- the poor things, after all, they are just trying to learn the culture and are just having fun. Stacy suggested that maybe there is something we recognize in ourselves in them that makes us cringe. For me, I think it might be just straight up envy of them for living a time like I once did with no stress, when everything was romantic and interesting and wonderful and I saw Spain through the beer-fogged lenses of a workaday gringo. “Stay a little longer my dearies”, I feel like saying, “It ain´t all sangria and siestas”.
Having fully accepted my guiri (i.e. gringo) status, on Friday when I got off work, I cracked open a beer for my walk home and thought, either I am a total ghetto rat, or life is damn good and I am a guiri in Spain. And as the Spanish passers-by gawked at me, maybe even with vergüenza ajena, I wallowed in the depths of my guiriness, sat my ass down in a beautiful plaza and finished my beer.
This is living.