When an American is a Spaniard

Last Friday, when at the gym, I saw a guy there whom I’ve seen at the gym several times. He’s probably about 22 years old, short, rather round, blond hair, blue eyes, wears glasses and Nike weight-lifting shoes. On previous occasions he’s worn a Purdue University t-shirt so, upon seeing him, I was SURE he was a midwestern farm boy, ex-high school football player, come to Madrid as a study-abroad student.

So on Friday I saw the same guy, this time wearing a Chicago expositions t-shirt of some kind. So I got up my nerve to go over and introduce myself, something I ABSOLUTELY never do at the gym with anyone. He was exercising near me and during one of his breaks I went over to him…

“¡Oye, Américano!”, with a big smile on my face. “I’m Scott.What’s your name?”, as I offered my midwestern hand to shake his. He reluctantly lifted up his own hand with a puzzled look on his face and stammered, in Spanish, “Perrrrrro…. no soy….”

‘Oh, God’, I thought, totally certain, that this guy was a guy from my part of the USA. And when he said he wasn’t from the USA I mentioned that I’d seen him in his Purdue shirt and, today, with his Chicago shirt, that I was sure he was from there. But no. And he offered no other explanation so I didn’t ask. I told him he totally had the look of someone from the midwestern USA, right off the farm.

I finished my workout, dressed, and was on my way home when I saw him getting into his car so I shouted, jokingly, “¡Hasta luego, Américano falso!” He looked up with a smile and replied, in Spanish, “Be careful! That name might stick!” We both laughed and went our separate ways.

Man, I was so sure this guy was an exchange student, study abroad student, or maybe some very fortunate individual who’d been able to find work here in Madrid. Surely, if he was Spanish but spent a summer at Purdue University that he would’ve mentioned it. But no. Nothing. No explanation as to why he had such t-shirts.

I’ve seen other Americans at the gym, whom I was sure were Americans and probably were, as I’ve heard them speaking English among them. But few Americans are found in this part of Madrid.

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