That's right. I've decided to give Gym Girl her very own post. I was just gonna leave you all with the last abridged description of her, but after today, I realized.... no. You need to know about Gym Girl in all her glory.
To get you up to speed, Gym Girl is the trainer/assistant person at my gym. She talks to everyone, but usually at the times I can go, I'm the only person or one of the only people, so I get extra special attention. I've already written about her a bit here and here. Allow me to point out two things about Gym Girl:
1. I don't think she represents any kind of stereotype or some common type of girl in Brazilian society. She's her own special case!
2. The poor thing is actually very nice and so friendly. She invites me out all the time and is very open and talks to me a lot. She's just.... well, you'll see.
So here is a catalog of experiences I've had with Gym Girl, stories she's told me, etc:
*Gym Girl is 28 years old. She lives at home with her parents. She has a degree in "physical education" from one of the small private universities in town. Her most favoritest favorite hobby is watching movies at the theater. She goes almost every weekend.
*Her favorite movies of the moment are the Twilight series. She doesn't understand why I haven't read the books and why I don't really care about watching the movies.
* Gym Girl has a relatively new boyfriend, but she's still in love with her ex-boyfriend. He broke up with her over a year ago, and she's been with this new guy for a while, but the ex is "the love of her life." She still has pictures of her ex in her wallet and on her bedroom wall (yes, she's shown me the ones in the wallet). When I asked her how she hides that from her new boyfriend, she says that he never goes into her bedroom and he never sees her wallet.
*Gym Girl especially loves Twilight because she believes that her new boyfriend is like the werewolf guy, but her ex-boyfriend is her true love, like the British vampire guy.
* Gym Girl still writes emails to her ex-boyfriend about how much she loves him and misses him, even though he has never responded and even though he has a new girlfriend. She also stalks their Orkut profiles. Apparently, the new girlfriend has joined "Orkut Communities" (akin to those groups on Facebook that say things like "I stay awake for no reason") about her. The new girlfriend is in communities that say things like "my boyfriend's ex is crazy" and "he loves me, not you!". But Gym Girl is very happy and hopeful because the new girlfriend is also in a community that says "I know you still think about your ex!". So that means he must think about her!
*She went to a parapsicóloga for advice about her ex-boyfriend. If you don't know what parapsicóloga means, bear with me for a minute, because I didn't either. At first, I thought she said "psychologist", but then she was saying how he used cards and candles to try to predict what would happen with her and her ex. So I was like, "your psychologist did this?!" and she said "No, my PARApsychologist!" Turns out it's like, a kind of psychic. And this guy told her that she and her ex are soul mates, and she should keep waiting for him. Lovely.
*Every time she has some kind of "anniversary" of something that happened with her ex, she tells me about it. "Today was the first time we kissed!" "Today would've been our 3-year anniversary!" "Today was the first day we had sex!"
* Her new boyfriend is a piece of work. He's very jealous and they fight because he's always convinced that other men are looking at her or that her clothes are too tight and are showing too many curves. His Portuguese is also apparently terrible, which is a pet peeve for Gym Girl. She shows me his text messages with his bad spelling (for "pensar" he wrote "pençar") and bad grammar (once he wrote "fazerei" instead of "farei" for "I will do", a mistake that I don't even make). She never has anything good to say about him.
*So I asked Gym Girl why she stays with her new boyfriend if she's so unhappy with him. And she said honestly, "well, what am I supposed to do? Be single? I'd rather be with him and be annoyed than be single." And then she said "besides, it's always best if the guy likes you more than you like him. Then you don't have to worry about trying not to upset him or doing something he won't like." Awesome logic.
*Gym Girl's boyfriend recently lost his job, and decided not to look for a new one for 6 months, because that's how long he can receive unemployment. He has received a couple of jobs that he's doing under the table so that he doesn't lose the unemployment checks.
*The boyfriend's parents are apparently divorced, but still live together because the mother has no education or job skills and has only ever been a housewife. So they live together and sleep in different rooms, and then the father brings other women home. And she's still his housewife, not dating anyone new, hoping that he'll take her back. Sounds like they set a great example of gender roles for the boyfriend.
*Gym Girl hates working at the gym. The other trainer girls are apparently clique-y against her. She tells me, a client, all about their dramas and fights. Also, one of the girls is supposed to come in to the workout area to help her with stuff and give her her breaks and stuff, and never does. But she doesn't ask the girl and she doesn't remind her. And then at the meetings, the boss scolds Gym Girl for not having everything done right. I suggested that she ask the boss (in front of the other girl) if they can have designated times that the other girl comes in to help so that there's no confusion. But Gym Girl said "I don't have the courage to do that!" (A common Portuguese expression that I think usually translates to something like "I could never do that!"). So after getting sick of hearing her complain about this, I said "you must believe that the suffering from not getting a break and getting in trouble unfairly is worse than any possible suffering for giving an opinion or suggestion to your boss." The logic kind of went over her head.
*Gym Girl only makes 5 reais an hour at the gym. Five.
Background story: Recently, all of the medical residents in Brazil were on strike, demanding better pay. The national average is R$1,600 a month for residents working an average of 60 hours a week. The salary hasn't been raised for like, 15 years. They ended up getting a 25% increase, which is great news for Alexandre, who will be a resident next year.
Anyway, one of the residents from the hospital was working out at the gym, and we were talking about the strike. Gym Girl asked the resident, "well how much do you make?"
Obviously, the resident was uncomfortable to tell her exactly how much, so she said "well, not enough." I pointed out that they make only a little more than what I made working less than full time at an English school, and they have way more stress and liability at their jobs. But then Gym Girl said, "well, I'm sure it's a lot, because you're doctors! I only make 5 reais an hour! It's so unfair! I have a degree!"
So the resident asked her, "Well then why do you accept that? Why do you work here? Why don't you work as a personal trainer, like going to people's houses?"
And Gym Girl said, "UGh. It's so much work!!! It's such a pain!"
So that's why she makes 5 reais an hour, and she can't really complain about it.
*Gym Girl invited me to a pizzeria for her birthday. She said it'd be her, some friends, and her boyfriend. Alexandre couldn't go, and I thought "What the heck? Maybe I'll meet some new people." So I went. It ended up being only her and her boyfriend. And me. OMG. The boyfriend said nothing to me, and to her, like 10 words during the entire dinner, and they were things like "Who's that man? Why are you looking at him?" and "Those guys are checking you out. I'm gonna go beat their asses." Oh, but when I ordered a caipirinha, he actually acknowledged my presence to say, "wow, you drink? I don't drink. I'm evangelical." OKAY!!! I'm the immoral one for ordering a caipirinha with dinner?! The night was torture. It was the first and last time I went out with Gym Girl.
*I'd actually maybe consider just going out with HER, but her boyfriend doesn't allow her to go out without him. Doesn't "allow." And she accepts it.
So then today was the kicker. Gym Girl asked me, "have you heard of a place called Senegal?"
"The country?" I asked.
"Yeah," she said. "What language do they speak there?"
"French, I think." I didn't ask why, but she told me anyway.
"Well, because my boyfriend's father was talking to a woman online who was from there. She has the saddest story! She's living in exile. Her uncle took all of her money, and she has no way to leave the country! So she asked my boyfriend's father to open a bank account for her so that she could transfer her money into it."
I laughed. I couldn't help myself. "Have you never heard of this scam?" I asked.
"What?" she asked. "It's not a scam."
"Yes it is. I promise. It's fake."
"But she speaks English! We put it into a translator online. And she sent him a picture and everything!"
"The picture can be from anywhere on the internet. Also, how did she have a computer and learn English if she's a poor woman in Sengal? Her story doesn't even make sense. Exile means she gets sent to another country, so how is it that she can't leave? Also, if her uncle took her money, what will she transfer?"
"No, but it's not a scam, because she didn't ask for MONEY. She just asked for him to open an account! So how can she get to his money?"
I didn't know the exact details of the girl's scam, and I didn't know how to say "money order" in Portuguese, so I said "please believe me. It's a scam. Usually they say they're from Nigeria. You can search online. It's really common. I know you guys want to help, so donate money to the Red Cross or something."
She still seemed skeptical. So I just said, "I'd stop talking to her... good luck!"
Oh yes. Such fun stories that I come home with to entertain Alexandre. When I can, I try to go to the gym at night to avoid her, because she works mornings and afternoons. I'd say that she'd make a good character on a sit-com or something but... no, she wouldn't. It'd be too painful to watch!