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Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


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Like my brownhouse:
   strange social situation
Friday, February 19 1999
Eric, our engineering friend, the guy whom Kim uses as evidence that not all men are assholes, had a particularly rough day at work. He programs algorithms for a medium-sized defense contractor and much of what he does is top secret. Gradually he's come to the conclusion that the company he works for is a pathetic collection of second-raters. Today he got fed up with the poor attention middle management has been paying to his complaints and he ended up in a nasty argument. So tonight after he got off work, Eric drank a 5th of Jack Daniels pretty much without assistance.
Eric is a very social person, and tonight, in addition to his solo drinking, he hoped very much to spend some quality time with his good buddy Pete, the guy who looks like Jim Carey and recently took up with Ludimilla the Brazilian girl. But Pete's usual flakiness has been exacerbated by his new romance and, having earlier planned to hang out with Eric, he later called and left a message on Eric's machine saying he was sure Eric was passed-out drunk by now and thus "good night." Pete's pathetic flake-out message led Eric to make the dramatic move of classifying Pete in the extreme category of "California super-flake."
Eric, you see, was anything but passed-out drunk. He may not be an alcoholic, but he holds his liquor well. So Kim invited him to come to our apartment to hang out with us for a time. Eric craves good friends with whom to socialize, especially male friends, and Kim is convinced that he'd decided that I'm worthy of being his buddy.
After we got through the initial bitches about Eric's workplace: the humiliating drug tests, the shoddy procedures and patronizing bosses, we turned our attention to the subject of Pete and the Brazilian Girls. Putting our various stories together, we could suddenly see the big picture. Far from being the warm, friendly girl from Brazil, it turns out that Ludimilla is shallow, catty and manipulative. She begins her friendships with unusual warmth and generosity, but at a certain point she starts talking shit behind peoples' backs and cleaving people from one another. A case in point is her new boyfriend, Pete. Pete spends days on end with the Brazilian girls at their cramped one-bedroom apartment ("the endless slumber party" as Kim termed it, in reference to the catty gossip that no doubt typifies the Portuguese dialog going on there most of the time). But every time Eric has called for Pete there, Ludimilla has intercepted the call, always saying he wasn't there and that she'd relay his message. But Ludimilla always immediately forgets the message. It's clear that she's trying to drive a wedge between these two old buddies.
Then, of course, there's the way Ludimilla has handled her relationship with Kim. With Kim she used to share her catty comments about everyone (including Pete and Juliana the "third" Brazilian girl) and then, moments later, demonstrate perfect friendliness to these same people when they'd suddenly appear. But following the recent falling-out between Kim and Ludimilla (which evolved out of class-related bitterness: Ludimilla is from a very wealthy Brazilian family but was hired by Kim to clean up around the house), Ludimilla has rebuffed every peaceful overture Kim has made. Such overtures mostly take place at Kim's workplace, where Ludimilla is hired to clean up the place.
One of the things I greatly appreciate about Eric is the way he gossips. He's not satisfied with saying so-and-so is an unpleasant bitch and so-and-so-else is a manipulative asshole. He wants to get inside the heads of these people and figure out why it is they're doing what they're doing. I found his explanation of what's wrong with the Brazilian girls perfectly on-target. Says he:

  • You have these girls from rich Brazilian families sent off to the United States to learn English because they're too lazy to go to college and learn it that way.
  • They get here and find that it's harder to get money from mommy and daddy when they're this far away. But since they don't have a fuckin' green card, they have to accept demeaning jobs in order to pay for things. So they're over here working as cleaning ladies and no one will give them the respect they feel is owed to someone of their class. Since class issues are even more important in Brazil than they are here, we can't possibly know how humiliating this is for them.
  • It's also no surprise that they eventually snapped at Kim. She was a face and name representing everything American, including what was going wrong with their lives. She was part of their humiliation even if she was only trying to do them a favour by hiring them to clean. The human mind can be logical, but about such strongly emotional issues, it's no surprise that Kim eventually became the focus for their difficult-to-place bitterness.
  • What of Pete? If he could be persuaded to marry a Brazilian girl such as Ludimilla, her employment prospects would improve dramatically. In this case, keeping him cut off from realists might be a clever strategy.

Kim added to these theories with at least one of her own. She attributed part of the recent chill in relations to the fact that the Brazilians cannot speak English very well. While this factor also plays a role in the difficulty of the Brazilians' finding work appropriate to their caste, it strongly works against attempts at reconciliation with the people they've decided to loathe. You see, with most misunderstandings, you can sit down and talk about things and reach a new understanding. This is impossible when, for example, Ludimilla can't even understand such idiomatic expressions as "It just proves the point that one should never hire one's friends."

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