All right. Here in our new town of Springfieldee, I occasionally run into a dilemma. You see, there are actually other Americans here. It's my first time living in a Brazilian city that has other foreigners besides me. The first time I ran into Americans in Caipirópolis, I was so excited to encounter some of my fellow citizens after a YEAR AND A HALF without human contact with them in Brazil that it was a no-brainer that I'd try to talk to them. (You may remember that it didn't work out so well.)
However, there aren't enough of them/us here in Springfieldee to where I'm like, psychologically flooded and the foreigners and I become desensitized to running into each other (the way I think some immigrant communities may feel in the US). There are just enough Americans to make talking to them feel so. incredibly. awkward.
Here's the thing: I usually hear them speaking English to each other. They're often in groups of two (a couple) or three (businesspeople, students, etc). So I know they're American, but they don't know I am. So it's really up to me to speak up and be like, "hey, hi, excuse me -- Are you American? I am, too!" And smile a lot.
But I don't! Here's why: I envision the rest of the conversation in my head. It goes something like this:
Me: Hey, hi, excuse me -- Are you (guys) American?
Them: Yes, we are.
Me: Me too!
Them: Cool, I'm so and so.
Them: And I'm so and so.
Me: Hi So and Sos. I'm Danielle.
Them: So are you here on vacation?
Me: No, I live here. I'm an English teacher. My husband is Brazilian. [I don't use husfriend with strangers. I think I'll seem retarded as opposed to charming.]
Them: Oh, wow. Cool.
Me: Are you guys here on vacation / for work / studying abroad? (it's always obvious)
Fellow Americans and I all shift and look at each other awkwardly, smiling politely, eager to get back to our walking to work / grocery shopping / stroll around the lake with people we actually know
Me: Ok, well... nice to meet you! Have a good day!
Them: Thanks. You too. Bye!
AND THAT'S IT.
I can't think of anything else that we would logically say to each other. I mean, it's not like I can follow "nice to meet you" with, "damn, that exchange rate is really going to make it a bitch to go home again this year, am I right?" Or "So how about those customer service drones? They've really been getting to me lately" or even "So how did we LIVE without Catupiry? Eh? Eh?"
So then I just pretend to be Brazilian by ignoring them (and no American has even given me a second glance or questioned it! But on second thought, they should be even more suspicious, because many Brazilians get all wacko about hearing English spoken in public and have no shame in approaching you as if you were a celebrity), so we don't talk to each other, and then we go our separate ways, and I feel so inhuman!! Ack! I can't win in my mind.
So I thought I'd write about it here to see what you guys do. Are any of you in the "I only run into Americans once a year so of course I talk to them" camp? Or maybe you're in the "I see at least one fellow native English speaker a day; we just kind of give each other a nod each." Or maybe you're in a city like mine. If so, what do YOU do? The whole thing is just so uncomfortable, any way it plays out!