Before I am accused of being oh so British, I must clarify that my interest in the young delights is purely anthropological. I am a student of the human condition in all its beauty and tragedy, so anyone who confuses me with a perv can frankly bugger off.
I am still bemused and intrigued by how adolescents in this country manage to be such generally fine, warm human beings. A healthy fifteen-year-old boy in a recent class moved not a hair when his mother, who studies with him, spontaneously grabbed him in a prolonged, affectionate embrace.
Do that in Anglo-Saxon environments and you risk an outbreak of arson. While studying in Italy I met a New Yorker whose teenage brother had set fire to their penthouse apartment after a tiff with his parents, then had had the gall to sulk and whine about the family having to go to restaurants every mealtime for several months due to the smoke damage.
Attractive Brazilian teenage girls (and there are a lot of them) are nice people too. Dare to snatch a glance of les belles du jour at English secondary schools and you’re likely to be met with a less than coquettish, “What are you staring at?” Brazilian teens will look you straight back in the eye with an approachable “come on then, let’s converse” demeanor.
Teenage boys everywhere are largely clueless. Those contemporaries of mine socially advanced enough to engage girls in flirtatious mating rites largely did so by grunting at them, kicking them playfully in the shins and being rude to them. Occasionally picking a fight with one of the class eccentrics was also a popular ruse to entice the laydies, with sometimes bafflingly successful results. I suspect it’s much the same nowadays, only with the addition of hoods.
Brazilian lads are little better, all baseball caps, Bermuda shorts and fancy trainers, but I’m sure they have much greater success than their northern contemporaries. Rather than getting a mate to tell the object of their affection’s mate that they fancy them, Brazilian youths just secure eye contact and disengage the handbrake with admirable aplomb.
I can remember endless grey winters in Bournemouth being lit up by gaggles of babbling, sensuous South Americans, full of the fire of life and being pathologically friendly to everybody.
Maybe it all has something to do with the tactile nature of Brazilian social congress. At a gathering of people, it is considered impolite not to go round shaking hands with every last man and kissing and hugging every last woman, even if you don’t know them from Adão/Eva. This immediately creates a certain intimacy.
Witnessing males of all ages hugging is also not rare, and is interpreted as a healthy display of respect and affection. Back home, it can only be done after scoring a try or in a drunken attempt to express deeply repressed yearnings for human warmth and a saner life than the one we are currently dragging ourselves through.
I had better stop now. There is a security guard watching me.