“No offense…”

Have you ever noticed how some things we say as a culture are just absurd? I’m not talking about idioms like, “By the skin of my teeth” or, “A dime a dozen”. No, those sayings are okay. I get that they are trying to convey a deeper meaning. The stupid stuff I’m talking about are things like saying, “Just joking” after every sentence especially when you know they aren’t joking. There is one in particular that kind of chaps my hide: “No offense but…” Anytime anyone uses that phrase you know they are about to say something offensive.

Okay, rant over.

The reason I bring it up though is because I’ve noticed that a lot of cultures around the world are very blunt and they truly mean “No offense” by it. For example, I spent a good deal of time in Brasil. I loved everything about it but there were obviously some things that took some getting used to. Not being offended was one of them. Brazilians are blunt…no, that’s not the right word. Honest. Yeah, that’s better. Brazilians are honest. If you’ve got a pimple on your nose they will totally point it out. “Wow man, that pimple on your nose is huge.” And I honestly feel like they don’t mean to be, well, mean or offensive. They just tell it the way it is.

My personal experience was that I gained about 15 kilos while I was there (that’s about 30 pounds). The good news is that I got a bug a couple months before I left and lost it all, but that’s beside the point. I started splitting some of the pants I had brought and was feeling a little self-conscious about it. One day I noticed people who knew me started calling me, “Fofinho”. I had never heard the word and so asked what it meant. The lady who called me that a lot explained that it meant, “something fluffy and plump”.

Ouch.

But, I soon realized that they weren’t calling me that to be mean. Really. They were actually trying to be nice. I later learned that calling someone fofinho is like calling someone cute and fluffy, not fat. As a matter of fact, if you type in the word, fofinho into a Google search the first image you get is a cute little pig. There’s even a brand of toilet paper called, “Fofinho”. Brazilians just call it like it is.

I guess my travel advice would be this: when you travel someplace that has different customs, don’t be offended by the ones that you don’t like. Afterall, they may just be trying to tell you the truth in a kind way. Besides, you aren’t in Kansas anymore.

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