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You may have heard that there’s a new pope. To you, maybe, it’s important. Or maybe it’s not. I don’t have much of a horse in this race, as I’m not Catholic. But I live in a Catholic country, and I think it’s fair to say that people are definitely paying attention here.

For one thing, he’s not European, but Latin American, which should make Chileans happy. On the other hand, we have this sometimes playful/sometimes not rivalry with Argentina, which, as far as I can tell, has to do with Chileans perceiving Argentines (well, actually, Porteños, people from Buenos Aires, but this easily extends to other parts of the country as far as Chileans are concerned), with taking up too much space, whether it be auditory (said to be loud), physical, (gesticulate more than Chileans) or any other. This is often shorthanded by holding one’s hands up like there’s a casserole dish in them, shrugging the chest forward and upper arms back, nodding one’s chin up imitating (perhaps poorly) the Porteño accent and intonation, and saying (at great volume) “che,” which is kind of like “dude.”

And while this reminds me of the ’80s (probable misrepresentation) of Valley girl speak in the US (or at least in Brooklyn), I do think it’s fair to say that there are nationwide profile differences, and Argentines tend to be grander, in voice, stature and (public) ego than Chileans.

So I was in the elevator at a friend of mine’s apartment. What’s different about this elevator from most other elevators you go into these days, and any other one I go into at all in Santiago, is that it has an attendant. He (always he, but many different hes) sits on a stool and you tell him where you’re going and he pushes the button. Some of the attendants read, some listen to music on their phone, and some just run the elevator up and down, and I guess they’re developing a life philosophy, as they don’t really seem to be doing anything else, though I wish at least one would write a book about his experiences.

The presence of the ascensorista (elevator attendant) means that people have to talk when they get in the elevator to tell him what floor they want to go to, and this means rather than being in the dome of silence, that the people in the elevator (which fits about 8 people) actually tend to talk to each other more than is normal (for Chile) in such a small space. There’s also the camaraderie of living downtown, which is no small factor, and there are a lot of foreigners and other people that are somewhat outside the Chilean norm (sex workers, for example) living in this building. For Chile, it’s downright chatty.

So what does this have to do with Argentina and the new pope?

Pues, tenemos Papa Argentino,” (So, we’ve got an Argentine Pope). This from a 40-something man who comes up to my shoulder.
Ahora van a ser mas agrandados aún!” (pronunciation note, this sounds like: a-OR-a van-a-SER MA-a-gran-DA-o aOOn, Now they’re going to be even more full of themselves.

And everyone snickered and laughed and smiled. Because maybe Argentines (from the Chilean perspective) are full of themselves, but Chileans (from my perspective) are buenos pa’ el pelambre (really good at making fun of people, though generally in “good fun,” not cruelly).

Which is perfect, giving the unfortunate typo in the screen capture posted above (see red banner at bottom). From a national channel, and it’s streaming through on Facebook every five minutes on my feed, and I’m sorry I cannot give credit where credit is due. Turns out that r and l are not interchangeable in many languages, including Spanish. I can’t wait to see what kind of meme this spawns.