I’m having a late breakfast at a cafe near my place, and there’s this jabbering Hispanic guy sitting two tables away who’s louder than hell. To be heard by his tablemate he’d need to talk at a level 4 or 5 (which is how I do it — I talk to someone like I’m having a conversation, not like I’m giving a speech in an outdoor arena without a microphone). This guy is talking at a level 8 or 9.

A couple of Latino guys sitting at the counter are doing the same thing, bellowing from the diaphragm so everyone in the cafe can hear what they’re saying. Except they have to talk even louder because they have to be heard over the first loud guy.

There’s no way around it — New York Hispanics can sometimes be socially unsubtle people, and they don’t seem to care if people like me are bothered by their patter. It never even occurs. We all act thoughtlessly from time to time, but the mark of a real animal is someone who never considers that he/she might be giving offense.

Is this primarily a New York-area thing? Or something that only low-rent Latinos do? I’ve been all around Spain and I’ve rarely noticed this level of conversational obnoxiousness in cafes. Nor did I notice this element when I visited Buenos Aires a few years ago. The Latin men and women I’ve observed in other countries can be spirited and exuberant, of course, but they mostly seem to converse at moderate levels. People with money and/or accomplishment under their belts are always more soft-spoken. You can bet that if you were to go to a cafe with Paul Shenar‘s Alejandro Sosa, the Bolivian drug dealer in Scarface, that he wouldn’t be carrying on like these three nearby donkeys. Does Edward James Olmos bellow in cafes and cause guys like me to complain about him? I seriously doubt it.