A man can not live on Reais alone.
A real is but a coin, after all, or paper, in its multiple form. A currency, the value changing often, not very concrete, even momentarily, it can change depending on the man holding. Never has this been more evident to me than on a recent foray in South America with my good friend Asslanta and an acquaintance of his tagging along as well.
Even having a rudimentary grasp of the lingua of the land, communication was nonetheless a struggle at times. In a group of three, when addressing a local in some exchange of business or another, I was commonly deferred to as the leader of the group.
While initially prone to chalk this up to my race or physical stature, I began to notice an even more obvious pattern emerging. I was simply unwilling to start any engagement or negotiation with immediate talk of money, whereas ‘Lanta’s friend did not display a grasp of a social skill set beyond simply pay and take. He was often almost completely ignored, even when directly talking to someone. His entitlement and expectancy for everyone to bend to the power of money seemed an affront to the general sense of pride and individuality of the locals. I took it as far as to make it a point to subtly acknowledge his inadequacy to rack up even more credibility points.
Needless to say, he remained utterly oblivious to such nuance. Social tact is immeasurably valuable. Nothing is ever easy in a foreign country.
Money talks, sure, but there’s a lot of it walking around.
Not everyone wants to feel bought.
5 reais will buy a plate of grilled chicken hearts, and a man can bestow this street fare to his lady easily enough. But paired gracefully with an accompanying sly smile, in no time will have him mounting her with the force of a thousand buffalo on the high plains thundering toward their inevitable death plunge over the cliff of labia minora.
There was a not so distant time in my life when the 20 dolla bills sprang from my freshy pair of jorts only to trickle down upon the populace of my city, bold and crass, as the seemingly constant but mostly unimposing excretion of my intact male hound. And I, previously lacking the wherewithal for such lavish social and economic activity, did not hold back. As it came, so it went. A lot of fun was had, as most of said cheddar was derived from endeavors of lesser public renown, involving colorful vocabulary like ‘weight’ and ‘elbows’
There were also times of drought, reminiscent of the boom and bust trajectory of modern-day Brasil. Soup kitchens, walking everywhere, nary a roach in sight. Through all of this my social capital remained strong.
Spending money left and right will never have you standing on a street corner with your entire upper body inside a taxi making out with a girl you just met because she’s in a traffic jam hoping to god playing mad tonsil hockey with a dime piece the first day you step cock into that country will lend you the beneficial gut bacteria that will keep you shit safe the rest of your journey.
I am determined to never let 50 Reais become my new 20 dollar bill.
That is not the path to legend.