The Portuguese people as a whole have an incredible ability of turning simple things into major productions. Explanations, traffic situations, public services. You name it, and it's difficult.
I believe it is in their bloodline. They are born with the convolution gene. For some time I considered that this strange gift was a product of learning, culture, or something in the water, but now I am well-nigh convinced that they are physiologically unable to simplify things.
As evidence of this, one of their favorite expressions is, “It's complicated.”
Family life is complicated.
Directions are complicated.
The language is complicated. Native Portuguese speakers routinely express how difficult it is to learn to properly speak, read, and write the language. You might say – but that's only for foreigners. No, it is difficult for people here too. We once copied the happy birthday song on a piece of paper before going to a neighbor's party. Even “Happy Birthday” is complicated. It has four verses.
When the grandmother saw our cheat sheet on the table, she picked up, read it, and wanted to know who had penned it down. When we explained, she apologized that she didn't have any coins in her pocket to reward us for our correct spelling. I don't think she was kidding.
If that was not enough, names are also complicated, and because of this, I've yet to understand if, when, why, or how they choose to take or drop names. Our language teacher has, including her first name, six of them. The best part is she didn't even take her married name! One day I asked her about it. Her only explanation? It's complicated.
Politics is complicated. Although they despise the way government is run, never get involved, and rarely vote; if asked to briefly explain any one of those situations, the answer will certainly be, “It's complicated.” Saying that they have communists and socialists would be sort of like saying only two soft drinks exist in the world – Coke and Pepsi. They have the Left Bloc, the Left Revolutionary Front, the Portuguese Communist Party as well as the Communist Party of the Portuguese Workers. They also have the Ecologist Party and the Workers' Party of Socialist Unity.
That's just in the Left Wing. Other viable parties exist within the Center-Left, Center-Right, and Right Wing classifications. Head spinning yet? I'll mercifully spare you the rundown of all the parties that have gone into extinction.
Since moving here, we have discovered that our neighbors are the kindest, and most helpful people we have ever met. They are generous, jovial, and love to talk. For the most part, there is no pretense. They are who they are whether you like it or not. Just don't ask them who they really are – it's complicated.
Written by Michael Andrzejewski for the LaGrange Daily News
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