To escape Colorado’s harsh weather I spend winters in Brazil’s warm summers at my condominium on a beautiful island near the town of Guarapari, a 40-minute flight north of Rio de Janeiro.
Brazilians are bad about remembering proper names so they make up their own descriptive names for foreigners. In the area, I am known as The Americano Whose Friend Died because my dear friend, neighbor, and language coach died. Another American lives nearby on the mainland and he has nearly my same proper name. His descriptive name is, The Americano Who Lives In The Jungle And Yells At The Natives.
Carnival is a huge event in every city in Brazil and the oceanfront town of Guarapari fills with residents from Belo Horizonte and Brasilia. The entire week of Carnival consists of music, dancing, and block parties. I spend my time in Brazil writing novels and screenplays. During Carnival, my new-best-friend Bert was at my apartment, saw my latest draft manuscript, and was impressed by it. At a neighborhood party that night, he introduced me as The American Writer. I was delighted with my new title and elevated status and thankful to shed my old descriptive name.
An attorney sitting next to me at the party pulled out her iPhone and googled me. The iPhone showed my book’s title and “in production.” I never felt so vetted since the time old man Joe McCowan at Pike Bay called around to find my family’s pedigree before I could date his granddaughter. Fortunately, my publisher was on the ball, or maybe it was just the ISBN application but it felt good to have the listing displayed. Strange feeling, getting googled on an island in a third world country!
Now when I’m at the pool and listening to them gossip about me, it’s much better than hearing about The Americano Whose Friend Died. The men are just as bad as the women about gossiping and I have to cough or turn my head so they won’t see me smiling but the conversation goes like this:
“My husband took The American Writer to town yesterday.”
“That’s nothing; we had him over for churrasco (BBQ) last Sunday.”
“He’s been to our house in Vitoria for dinner.”
“If you’re talking about The American Writer, he is my husband’s best friend.
They are doing some business deals together.”
When I listen to my neighbors talking about me, it’s like, “Hello, I right here!” They seem not to be bothered by being caught talking behind someone’s back.
The summer flew by because I was very busy with all my new friends at the condominium complex this year. During my next Brazilian summer when I see all my friends, I hope they will call me The American Writer Who Wrote The Best Seller.