Oh, I Couldn’t Because…

Summer English Class Champions

Summer English Class Champions

Because I had to wash my clothes. Because I had to clean my house. Because I didn’t have the energy. Those excuses would NOT fly in my US world, but in Paraguay they aren’t only legit excuses but won’t be questioned.

It’s amazing. I can come up with an excuse that would be completely understandable to my friends in the US. Like, “I had a ton of work for the next day and I needed to study.” If I try that excuse in my community people give the half nod that means something like, “Right, you just didn’t want to come. Lame.” Conversely, I can simply say, “I needed to wash my clothes. It’s been raining lately, so it’s been hard to wash them.” People will nod understandingly. No questions asked. Done. I didn’t come because I had to wash my clothes. Obviously. I had to take advantage of the sun.

As for cleaning the house. I’m a woman, after all. I couldn’t let my house be dirty, right? What would that say about my womanhood? Done. I didn’t visit because my house had to be cleaned that instant.

The excuse that I didn’t go because I didn’t have the energy is the hardest for me. I get the clothes washing. I wash clothes by hand. It’s a chore, and if it rains clothes don’t dry well. The sun is a valid concern. I also get the house cleaning bit. I might not agree with it, but the house is the women’s domain in Paraguay. Women in Paraguay are very proud of how they keep their homes, and to fail on that front would make people judge me. I do what I can to keep my house almost up to Paraguayan standards. However, I do fail on the lawn sweeping and spider web reduction parts of the job. But, what exactly does it mean to not have energy to do something? Isn’t that the same as just being lazy and lame?

No, it is not, according to Paraguay. It’s a polite reason not to go. Sometimes it has nothing to do with being lazy. Maybe it was raining. Maybe it was too hot. Maybe the terere I was drinking was simply too good to leave.

Culture. It permeates everything. Even the excuses we use to get out of things.