Quer um Beijo?

It is a question frankly asked in Brazil, the men are pretty straight forward, so if you are out, only like 2-3 minutes of small talk can lead a guy to ask politely if he might kiss you now. A no is accepted easily, so it is maybe a bit of a culture shock at first, but one easy to get over. The circumstances I was asked this yesterday though were quite unusual:

It is evening and walk down the road towards the Pelourinho, meeting up with friends, my mind somewhere far away (even as a child all the teachers claimed that I was “too dreamy”, never  quite wore off), as something besides me drops to the floor. As I look, a hand is hanging limp from a crack in the wall, the fingers painted black. It does not look alive. I jump and scream, my heart seems to want to jump out of my chest, as a low voice comes from the wall, asking me in Portuguese to pick it up.

As I take a closer look, I see the resident performance artist hanging in there, in the crack in the wall, filled with construction waste. He is famous for always wearing a costume, making him look like a walking metal construction from another world. The legend is that he never takes of his mask because he burned his face as a child an came up with the costume, to protect himself from mobbing. Yet now his mask is hanging on a hook a bit above his head and his face, as far as I can make up in the darkness, looks completely normal.

Aware that I have just become an actor in his performance art, just for himself, not for visitors, I refuse to show that he gave me quite a shock and decide to play it cool reluctant to accept the role of the mocked gringa.

I casually ask him if this is his home, as if he would sit in a chair in his yard and I just passed by, recognizing an old friend. This reaction seems to amuse him so he asks me if I like cockroaches and rats as he keeps many of them in his home. I fucking hate cockroaches especially the flying mutant giant species of them they have here in Brazil (sorry for the language my feelings about those beasts are quite strong). Yet I answer in a low key manner that I, for sure would not particularly love them, but not mind them either. He smiles and  invites me to his home. In order to stay in my cool manner I would have to climb into the wall as well but the price of doing that is too high (remember the mutant beasts) even for my proud stubborn head. After I polity reject, THE question pops up “Quer um Beijo?”

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