Tuesday, March 11, 2014


I have a young Chilean acquaintance whom I don't really know very well. Having mutual friends, we sometimes socialize in the same circles and I run into him from time to time.

When I found out, thanks to Facebook, that he was having a birthday, I sent him a congratulatory greeting. He responded with hearty thanks and then asked, "Are you coming (to the party today)?"

I played dumb. "What party?"

"The party, my birthday party." Oops, this was inconvenient because I hadn't been invited to his birthday party.

"Ummm, I don't know anything about your birthday party."

He apologized profusely. Twice. I wasn't particularly surprised that I hadn't been invited. After all, we are only acquaintances, not old friends, but he seemed genuinely sad that I'd been overlooked. If he were that regretful, I wondered why he didn't offer me a last-minute invitation.

Staring at my computer, I kept thinking that he would simply invite me then, but he never did. He just kept repeating how sorry he was.

Puzzled, I consulted our mutual friends. They told me that the party was about to start and was being held outside of Santiago in a little town an hour or so away. I understood then why there was no spur of the moment invite.

Now I'll bet that, if I run into this young man at another event, he will be stand-offish and awkward around me. Not just at one party, but......forever!

Why? Because the one thing that Chileans absolutely cannot bear is feeling embarrassed. Even though I am not angry or upset with him, he will probably be embarrassed by it and verguenza, más que nada, is insupportable for a Chilean.


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