I’ve written about ‘ficar‘ on my blog before (as well as related topics) and I’ve thought over its meaning many times. It’s one of those things that just keeps popping up, perhaps it’s because I’m still rather young and my understanding is that younger people ficar more than older people. Like everything I see and experience here, I first think about how it relates to my own culture and in that sense I’m taken back to high school. Coming into my adolescence in the 90’s, the name of the game was “fooling around” with different girls (which usually meant kissing and, yes, a little more). This activity has always been relegated to that time in my life and as such, I left it behind over a decade ago.
The difference with ‘ficar’ is not what it entails but rather the age range it encompasses here in Brazil. Anywhere from age 13 to one’s late 30’s (and I’m throwing out a wild guess that it ends by about 40), people ficar like it was some sort of product that’s on sale and quickly running out of stock. I can’t explain how many conversations I’ve overheard (mostly from women) gossiping over how they got with this person or that person. Guys participate in the same activity, only I don’t hear them talk about it but perhaps because I don’t participate in this ‘lifestyle’, I’m not privy to the whole story. Then again, this isn’t something I’m studying out of a book, it’s something I continuously see and overhear.
So why am I writing about this subject? It came about thanks to a conversation I had with another American I ran into, who also has lived in Brazil quite a long time. Our conversation resulted in the realization that love in Brazil is not any less important than lust, it just comes second in the process.
On a few particular occasions (drinking is involved), I’ve given in and done the ficar thing but ended it the next day because I consider myself more “old school” than not. To me, it’s more important and interesting to get a coffee and converse with a woman first than it is to get physical with her. In fact, in my little world, the former is pretty close to being a requirement if the latter is to happen. As a quick aside, the same American I spoke with about the subject suggested that being “old school” in the way that I am is more a sign of leading a homosexual lifestyle than, let’s say, being raised a church-going, women-respecting kind of guy. Needless to say, I had a laugh on behalf of his convoluted reasoning.
I guess I’m what one might call the “relationship type” and, in this day and age of hyper sexualization, I’ve made my peace with that. But in Brazil, I constantly find myself at a disadvantage. Why? Well, on one of those ficar experiences which I mentioned, I voiced my opinion on the whole matter and what the woman responded with left me a bit speechless. She said, “here we ficar simply to ficar but we also ficar to see if we like the other person as a potential mate.”
In other words, the physical, from first base to homebase, is a precursor to the emotional. Frankly, this gave me lots of pause. One thing that the American guy and I agreed on, as two outsiders looking in, is that this indeed is how things are among the Brazilian youth. However, it was his view that it’s not only different but it’s totally okay that it’s different. Of course, there are outliers and exceptions to the “rule” but, among the Brazilian youth, ficar seems very much like an everyday thing and I get the feeling that, much like the meaning of the verb itself, it’s here to stay.