“Hey Javi, my buddy, life is good?” I asked.
He didn’t smile. “It’s a little rough lately. My mom can’t find a job. My parents are thinking of putting me to work shining shoes.”
“How old are you now?”
“Well that sucks. Someone was telling me the other day that your neighborhood is one of the poorest in Buenos Aires. You’re going to be a man a lot sooner than kids in my country.”
“I’m already a man!” He flexed his little bicep muscle.
“Very good. Well I know you’re interested in America and how life is like there. I wanted to tell you a cool part of our culture.”
“Cupcakes?” He looked confused.
“Cupcakes! I’m surprised you don’t know. Cupcakes are huge in America. The largest cities have several shops that focus exclusively on selling handmade cupcakes.”
“You mean the little round pieces of cake with frosting on top?”
“That’s the one. But in America we make luxury cupcakes that are just incredible. The best cupcakes you’ve ever had. They only cost $2 or $3 each but if you buy them by the dozen you get a nice discount.”
“$2 can feed for me for the entire day.”
“Oh really, that’s pretty interesting.”
“I mean do they have meat in it? How big are they?”
“No meat, and they’re not very big. I can finish one in about four bites, three bites if it’s especially tasty, which they usually are.”
“Is this a joke?”
“Javi I’m not joking! In my city there is a store called Georgetown Cupcake and people my age line up around the block and wait twenty minutes to get a taste of their amazing designer cupcakes. Another shop opened up nearby and the competition is awesomely intense with people choosing sides over who has the best cupcakes in town. Friendships have been strained. The number one cupcake shop used to be this shop called Cakelove, but now everyone agrees their cupcakes are worse than the ones they sell at the Korean supermarket.”
“Line up for cupcakes? I line up for meals from the government when my parents run out of money. These cupcakes must have drugs in them then.”
“No, no drugs. Just the highest quality ingredients: sugar, butter, eggs, flour, and sprinkles. Delicious!”
“And this is popular in America?”
“So popular you wouldn’t believe. There are articles written about cupcake shops in newspapers. On the internet people furiously debate which shop has the best cupcakes. Talk shows do pieces on cupcakes. They are web sites about cupcakes with close-up shots of cupcakes. Soon there will be cupcake franchises across America like Starbucks and McDonalds. There are even bus tours that stop at culturally significant cupcake shops. It’s fun!”
He didn’t respond. I had trouble convincing Javi that I wasn’t bullshitting with him.
“Javi, remember these are the best cupcakes. I’m pretty sure you’d get caught up in the cupcake craze if you lived in America and weren’t so poor.”
“I miss eating chicken and steak,” he said.
“Um that’s nice.”
Stupid little kid. He just doesn’t get it.