When I introduce myself to someone new, most of the time he or she says, “Con mucho gusto. Cualquier cosa necesitas…” (With much pleasure, whatever you need, just let me know), and then quite literally, I start thinking about all the things I need until I realize, “Oh, it’s just an expression.”
Well, the neighbor and the music is becoming quite the saga. So at 9pm the other night I heard THUD/THUD/THUD/THUD and I thought, I’m going to pre-empt this before it gets to be 2am. So I knocked on my neighbor’s door, and a woman answered. “Disculpa,” I said. “Es la musica!”
With a smile, she responded, “Pasale,” and as I entered her apartment she led me to her son’s room. Her son, the same one who had answered the door red-eyed at 2 am the other morning, again apologized…half-heartedly. “Disculpa, disculpa, si si, cualquier cosa necesitas…”
We returned to the living room and the woman continued conversation with a smile. “They’re young,” she said, not excusing their behavior, just explaining it.
“How long have you been in Mexico? Oh…you’re a teacher? I sleep through everything…I don’t even hear the music! (Oh, well, can we trade rooms then?)…and finally, “esto es tu casa.” (this is your house)
As I left I was feeling pretty good. “Huh. Confront someone about their loudness, and get treated like a guest..” alright, then, where’s my official invitation for a home-cooked meal?” And perhaps she was killing me with kindness? I hate to think that. I think she was being genuine, a friendly neighbor, and hoping that I would forgive her son.
However, “cualquier cosa” from her son does not mean much as at 5:00am on Sunday morning…THUD/THUD/THUD/THUD against my wall. I thought about going over and saying, “HEY! If you’re gonna have a party at 5:00am on a Saturday you need to at least invite me!” But then again, I really didn’t want to hang out with 18-year olds. So, the neighbor-music saga still continues.
If there’s a problem, “ni modo” might be the answer, but it will always be said, or treated with a smile. How do you argue with that? I mean, it IS a problem that her son is blasting his music, but her smile is wide-spread from taxi drivers to restaurant owners, to people on the street giving directions. An answer they might not have, (and they will try), but: I have had people walk me to the corner in the direction that they think that something is, even if they are completely wrong. A bus driver dropped me off at the corner of where I work because I accidently got on the wrong direction, and even though everyone pushes to find a seat on the metro or drives like maniacs on the highway, in life, the “ni modo” attitude really is followed by “cualquier cosa.”
Today, we went to a lebanese restaurant for lunch with real kalamata purple olives (I’ve told all my students, practically that my favorite food is olives) and labneh, and tabuli…and pita bread that was fresh out of the oven… and the owner who was not too hard on the eyes. I was in heaven….a little closer to home.”Please come back soon,” the owner told us. “Cualquier cosa…”