Only in Buenos Aires. The other day I was taking my merienda at a café (not to mention trying to study for the GRE). I'd just finished my second medialuna, crispy on the outside but gooey and sweet on the inside. Just the way I like them. My cup of tea was almost gone, I was taking a break from The Vocabulary Hit List, consumed in people watching through the window as they walked down Avenida de Mayo. Sometimes words of admiration and momentary lust flew out of my mouth when I saw a particularly attractive Porteña. It was like any other day. And then suddenly, a little boy, maybe two years old, walked over to my table, plopped himself in the chair across from me and stared at me. He had a cookie, or some type of pastry in his mouth. He could barely chew the thing it was so large. But he did his best, staring at me with his big brown eyes that reminded me of bloated coffee beans. I talked to him, asked him his name, what he was eating, why he had granos de café for eyes. Meanwhile, his mom was sitting close by, watching us interact (if that's the word). She shook her head at me as if to say he's at it again. The little boy picked up my cellphone, examined it, rubbed the camera lens in back with his thumb.
--No es tuyo, his mom said. Che, Alejandro, no es tuyo, she said again. That's not yours.
He began pushing buttons in the contact list like he needed to get a hold of one of my friends and make an emergency call. He looked down at the different names and pushed a bunch of buttons again, this time furiously. That nameless soggy pastry half-hanging from his mouth. His eyes looking at me for confirmation.
--Che, no es tuyo. Dejálo Alejandro. Por favor, dejálo. Finallly the boy dropped the cellphone on the table and walked to another part of the restaurant. --Decile chau, she said. Say goodbye to him, she told her son. But he was on to bigger and better things by then. My theory is that he didn't listen to a word she said partially because he's only two years old, partially because he's a boy, and partially because the idea of private property is an oxymoron in Argentina.