Monday, November 28, 2016

Foreign Honesty

Growing up, my parents taught me about manners. About meeting strangers and being polite. Not saying what's on your mind. Not invading other people's space and not asking incessant questions. About avoiding topics and not getting offended myself. I thought I'd done pretty well with that...

Until I moved to Spain and none of that applied anymore.

I was shocked by how forward everyone was. They all said what they thought, and they didn't care if you were uncomfortable or not. It was a complete culture shock, but the part that really got me was how many times I had a guy follow me and then ask me out. On the subway, or sitting in the park. It was completely different from what I'd ever experienced.

One time, a friend and I were going to go see La Bella y La Bestia in Gran Via, which was a pretty big deal. We were so excited, and definitely dressed up so we could go to the theater. We arrived early, and the doors still hadn't opened, so we decided to walk down the street to one of the plazas and sit by the waterfall. As we were walking back to the theater, we noticed that two young Spaniards were following after us. We got to the theater and they came up to talk to us, and of course, my friend was gorgeous so they tried to talk to her first. Except she didn't speak Spanish. Then they turned to me. I was peppered with questions about where we were from, why we were in Spain, what we liked to do, if we had boyfriends, etc. They were shocked when I told them that I wasn't interested in having a boyfriend. They kept telling me that I needed one, and that they would be more than willing to accommodate. I was relieved once the doors to the theater opened and we could escape.

Another time, I was alone in a park, and a sweet old man sat next to me. He asked me what I was reading, and for a while, we just chatted. Finally, he asked me if I'd like to go to his house with him. I was slightly amused and asked what we would do there. He told me that we would share his bed. I was so shocked I didn't even know how to respond.

I've found that I actually prefer the honesty. It makes for some awkward situations, yes, but mostly with people who aren't used to saying whatever's on their mind. And it makes it so much easier for me to know what people are thinking. I don't have to skirt around issues anymore.

What about the rest of you? Do you prefer being PC and not offending anyone? Or do you prefer having honest communications with people?