The "Porteno Poops": My Experience Drinking Warm Milk in Buenos Aires
It was during my third hour of non-stop diarrhea that I finally agreed it was the milk. I’d stopped wiping by then; my butt just couldn’t take anymore single-ply, wannabe toilet paper that felt more like a sheet of brand new 20-grit. I was thoroughly defeated, and crampy, and miserable, and kicking myself for being such a cheap-ass.
“You OK babe?” Jeff said through the bathroom door. “I knew we shouldn’t have gotten it, it wasn’t refrigerated…that’s just weird.”
“I know! But it was so much cheaper than the cold milk! And other people were buying it too, not just me,” I shouted back over the faucet I’d turned on to muffle the abominable sounds.
In Buenos Aires, a ‘regular’ gallon of cold milk is pretty expensive, but you can find local stuff way cheaper on the shelves at room temperature. These little tetra-paks are unrefrigerated and unpasteurized and right next to the chips. We were on a major budget and I was determined to live as much ‘like the locals’ as possible, so after a little convincing, Jeff begrudgingly agreed to give the room-temp milk a try.
“See babe look,” I whispered pointing to an Argentine mom with a toddler in tow. “She’s got a kid and she’s getting it. It’ll be fine.”
So I loaded up our basket like Mammacita with the warm, unpasturized milk, some cheap beef, a bunch of tomatoes, and a sleeve of alfajores, and headed back to our apartment on the edge of the ghetto. We both made steak and tomato sandwiches, then I (operative pronoun) had cookies and milk for dessert. Jeff did not.
And thus our paths diverged: mine into the bleak and stormy realm of bubble-guts and embarrassment; his into the awkward, grossed-out world of spectator and romantic partner. I mean let’s be honest, no one ever wants to witness the ensuing’ “situation”, but especially not from the person you make out with, from an area usually associated with love-tapping greatness. Well folks, there was to be no love tapping greatness today; just 24 full hours of what I’ve come to call the Porteno Poops or Buenos Aires Butt. I actually considered dysentery until I looked it up on WebMD.
Feeling more like a self-serve Fro-Yo machine than a human being, I vowed to “never buy that warm-ass, white-devil milk again, not ever. Not matter how cheap it is.” The next morning I was finally able to resume a normal ‘elimination’ and eating pattern, and was obviously starving. We headed back to the aforementioned grocery store and after about five minutes my resolve to boycott warm milk was thoroughly tested. There in the refrigerator were jugs of cold milk selling for roughly six USD.
“Six dollars! That’s crazy babe! We don’t need fancy milk; let’s just get the other kind. I’ll be fine. Lightening doesn’t strike twice right?” I said with my most charming wink and nudge.
Jeff just stared at me. Then he picked up the biggest, coldest, most expensive jug of milk he could find, patted my still-raw backside, and walked to the register. It was $9.86 USD. I winced and my inner cheapskate feigned a heart attack, but I didn’t fight it; I knew he was right. We’d both just been through no-man’s land and made it to the other side alive and still seemingly in love. After the last few days, I could hardly stand me, yet there he was: dimples, blue eyes, one hand around my hips, one hand clutching the cold milk, and looking at me in my sweatpants like I was a goddess. He deserved fancy milk. I deserved fancy milk. And at that moment, $9.86 seemed a reasonable price to pay for solidity in both my bowels and in my relationship.
Lesson: It’s great to ‘live like the locals’, but don’t be a total cheap-ass. Or you will blow ass. And never, ever, drink warm milk.