Whenever people heard that a couple of my 24-year-old male friends were going to Brazil for the World Cup, they said, “they’ll never make it back alive,” or, “well, say, ‘goodbye’ while you can”. I’d retort with a “don’t be silly, they’ll be fine!” or a, “Brazil is not that scary, stop it!”.
While I didn’t worry about their safety, I did worry about them failing to capitalize on their greatest asset: they were about to become exotic foreigners in a world full of hot, Brazilian women. Before you say, “what the hell are you talking about, Erin, Americans are totally lame everywhere they go, except for maybe Canada,” hear me out. (Apologies in advance to my Canadian buddies.) When I studied in Germany, I carefully observed one American exchange student in particular: a dorky, annoying, narcissistic dweeb-weezle of a specimen. When he displayed himself in public, many of us were ashamed to be associated. One afternoon, while he was surrounded by gorgeous German babes who seemed somehow interested in his terrible German grammar, I remarked to my German friend who’d previously studied in the U.S., “what the hell is that?!” My friend scolded me and said, “don’t you realize you’re the same? You’re special just because you are different. It’s the same for you and it was the same for me when I was in the U.S. — you get attention only because you are foreign.” Although it was saddening at the time, if true, this factoid could hold the key to unlocking the potential of one of the most amaziballs times in my young friends’ lives.
But how would the Brazilian babes know they were exotic ‘Mericans? I mean, aside from their dashing, ‘Merican good looks? They would need to be told. On a t-shirt. In Portuguese.
I enlisted the help of my expert friend, Jessica, who speaks a bit of Portuguese, and who, moreover, hosted Brazilian exchange students and visited Brazil. She was quick to reply with a suggestion for what to write on the t-shirts and also turned to her Brazilian “sisters” for their expert opinions. After much deliberation, a phrase was arrived at they were sure was, “going to work”: Gringo na área! Quer me beijar? Then I spent a lot of time creating t-shirt art in Photoshop and going back and forth with the astoundingly fantastic Rachel of Barrel Maker Printing to perfect it. All of our efforts resulted in this masterpiece:
As the boys prepare to ship-out, we wish them good luck! Make ‘Merica proud! It was nice knowing you… You will be missed.