Ask me if I’m competitive.
“I am not competitive,” I will reply indignantly.
“I’m one of those easy going people.”
I will probably pause and smile innocently.
“I’m quite happy for other people to have their success,” I will insist, shrugging my shoulders.
“I’m just happy to go with the flow.”
Ah, how well we can deceive ourselves.
I still believe some people awaken my slumbering competitive streak more than others.
My Colombian housemate, Diego, is an irritatingly perfect example.
We argue about everything.
Today we argued about:
1) Whether Marlon Brando was called Marlon Brando or Marlon Brandon (I won, thank you google)
2) Whether it was cheaper to go to the corner shop or the local supermarket to buy more tea bags (he won)
3) Whether there was a white clown in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet (I won. I still don’t know what he was thinking)
3) Whether Ray Miles was a real musician or simply a minor character in the 2002 movie classic Drumlines (I probably won, google was inconclusive)
I was happily making tea in the kitchen when he walked in with an annoying smirk on his face.
“So you know how you’re trying to learn Spanish,” he said.
“Yes?” I snapped, squeezing a tea bag.
“Well, I’ve got a little bet for you.”
“I’m not interested,” I should have replied.
“Go on,” I replied.
“You know I’m moving to Argentina in three months?”
“I do. I can’t wait. Now go away,” I should have replied.
“Yup,” I said.
“You carry on learning Spanish. I’ll learn either German or Turkish – your choice – and in three months we’ll see who is better.”
I wasn’t even smart enough to hesitate.
“German,” I growled.
“Fine,” he grinned, shaking my hand.
“You know learning languages is my talent.”
I took him a perfectly brewed cup of tea exactly three minutes later.
He was watching a German television channel.
“Ich spreche Deutsch,” he smirked.
I walked straight into the study where my Venezuelan housemate, Jonathan, was working on his computer.
“I’ve done something stupid,” I grumbled.
I explained the bet. Jonathan hung his head.
“That was a mistake,” he agreed.
“You’ve probably already lost.”
I should say now that neither Diego, nor I, have mentioned – or even thought about – any stake for our bet.
We may have been born 5,200 miles apart but we were born under the same star sign.
Pride is enough.