Killing time in Santiago airport and listlessly cruising the shops, we paused to inspect a bag. "Leather?" we inquired, having searched in vain for a label saying so.
The brown-eyed young man searched himself, then, when he couldn't find what he was looking for, said, "Yes, is leather. "
I doubted it. Leather makes itself known. I smelled it, and shook my head. "I don't think so."
"Yes, is leather." Then, faced with our sceptical expressions, added, "Is fabricated leather".
At that point (blame the jetlag) I felt like snapping, "Did a cow die for this bag or didn't it? If it didn't, this isn't leather!"
To talk of "fabricated leather" is akin to believing that the scalpel can restore lost youth. That fabrication is as aesthetically pleasing as the real thing.
The other day we were chewing delicious steak on the mezzanine of a restaurant, facing the inevitable screen, when the camera zoomed deep into a perfect peachy decolletage. It was an commercial for cosmetic surgery.
There's an awful lot of it going on here - the fabrication of youth. And that's an estimate based only on the bad stuff that makes itself obvious on the street and at the milongas. Dismal attempts at stretching, filling, shrinking, smoothing and lifting that leave each woman with the same dreadful parody of a face.
A 1997 Salon.com piece, wittily entitled "Don't Starve for Me, Argentina", claimed the country had an even higher rate of anorexia and bulimia than the US. Starvation and plastic surgery were rampant, it said. Nearly 15 years on, that situation surely has't improved.