A new Colombian friend of mine was telling me the other day that every time she travels abroad, she gets asked two unwanted questions: 1) Do you have any cocaine? and 2) How much do you cost?

Saying “no” over and over gets old.

Unfortunately, though, she’ll probably continue to be asked those questions forever. The first one, well, duh. But the second? I’ll admit I really had no idea but, apparently, Colombia is to South America as Ukraine is to Eastern Europe. That is, lots of Colombian women are prostitutes. (Take it as a compliment, Ukraine.)

But prostitute isn’t the word in Colombia.

Instead they’re called “prepago,” which I’ve determined is kind of undefinable in English. I guess it’s kind of like a golddigger, but with a much more disturbing element to it because most of those who are chosen to become prepagos are still children. So I guess it wasn’t their daddies in Medellin buying their teenage daughters their first breastical implants, but their sugardaddies.

Gnarly.

Now, I’m sure some of you (especially those of you who probably got here by Googling “Colombian child prostitutes”) will chalk up my disgust to “Western, puritan prudishness” (or whatever), but that’s not it. If that were the case, I’d be duly disgusted by American golddiggers, but I’m not. If you’re a golddigger in America, you’re probably old enough to be able to choose your whorish way of life. In fact, you’re probably smarter than a girl like me who’s just a simple sucker for love (ahhh…). But if you’re prepago in Colombia, well, you’re probably 14, and having been a 14-year-old in the past, I know how much you’re not capable of making good decisions for yourself. Hell, at 30 I can barely make a good decision for myself.

But my idiocy aside, the culture of prepago in Colombia is just sad. It means lots of kids can’t just be kids and nothing grinds my gears more than old, nasty assholes stealing the innocence of children. I’m kind of like Dexter in that way, but, you know, with different hobbies. The only thing I kill are sudoku puzzles and even then I’m only speaking metaphorically. (But seriously, I tear that sh*t up.)

But not speaking of number puzzles, like me, you might be wondering how such a disturbing element entered Colombian culture in the first place. Well, unlike penciling in the numbers 1-9 in lines and boxes, I can’t say I’m a wealth of knowledge here. I was told the history of prepago is tied somehow to the history of drugs, but beyond that, I have no idea. In fact, I’m lucky I even understood that, as the entire conversation was in Spanish.

More mysteriously, despite that Colombian President Alvaro Uribe has more or less successfully snuffed out a whole bunch of motherFARC-ers, prepago culture is still going strong. Less drug running should equal less prepago, right? But no! It’s like Colombia is a giant sudoku puzzle and I somehow ended up with two nines in a box! Ahh! Clearly, my logic ran amok somewhere.

Luckily, I didn’t let my lack of logic stop me from continuing on (it never does) and I came up with a theory based on nothing but unscientific observation: At some point, it became fashionable to be a prepago. That is, unlike being called a golddigger in the United States, a good chunk of Colombian high middle schoolers consider being called a prepago a sort of status symbol. And here I thought winning a blue-ribbon in the science fair was prestigious…

I won a blue ribbon.

I guess I should’ve used it to stuff my bra.

But seriously, if someone knows what the hell is going on with this, let me know. Cultural enlightenment is always welcome.

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